As Clutch Creations prepares to pitch at the Launchpad2X & Venture Atlanta 2020 Pitch Showcase, I thought I’d share some insights on the process.
Pitch competitions are no doubt nerve-racking but they also carry their weight in gold. Pitching is all about showing up and trying your best because as you know, practice makes perfect, and inevitably, there will be some no’s. That is not to say you should practice your pitch so much that you have every single word memorized but rather that every time you pitch, you get better and better and become more confident and fluid in your words. Try practicing in front of your family — I noticed first hand that something I was trying to explain and describe in 25 words, my sister was able to translate and use about 10. That alone saved me 10 seconds and a whole lot of confusion for the listener. Use your inner circle as a resource! If they make you nervous… even better! Get out of your comfort zone and into your ZONE and describe what you’re passionate about. Sounds easy right? ;)
The Virtual Experience.
In light of the current environment and the majority of professionals working from home, VIRTUAL pitching can uproot some of the pros and cons of your ability to sell. Body language in a “normal” pitch is hugely important and somewhat lost in the virtual environment. You aren’t able to make eye contact with the crowd or judges; you can’t bestow your power stance or speak with your hands as easily and there is not a pitch deck on a screen behind you but rather on the screen in front of you. How strange is it to have to adapt to selling yourself and your business to a screen! The only pointers I have here is to make sure your technology is up to date, your bandwidth and connections are fool-proof and your virtual or real background is less than distracting or embarrassing. Oh, and lock the door if you need to keep noise and distractions out, interruptions can be an unnecessary curveball that might throw your entire pitch off. Be wary of this!
Pitch competitions with a panel of judges are invaluable — You receive free advice and feedback from judges who have experience and industry expertise. More often than not, their first impressions, reactions and questions will provide more insight than asking your entire family.
Two words… FOLLOW UP! The judges are there (generally as volunteers) and they’ve taken the time to hear you out on your business aspirations and provide insight and feedback. They are committed to your success by simply agreeing to be a judge so take it upon yourself to leverage their expertise and resources! You never know who is in someone’s network, shoot your shot.
A realization I had after not winning our first pitch competition is that the event is a PITCH competition. And the winner is decided based on how good their PITCH is. Seems obvious right? Well, to new founders, we often think the pitch needs to be perfect — full of information, explaining exactly how everything will work and honestly… I have found that most find themselves over-sharing information. Leave some things up for questions! Leave them wanting more but stick to the fine line of being concise and not lofty with a whole bunch of ideas and nothing to back your statements.
As for Clutch Creations, this will be our 6th pitch competition and I’ve finally realized that it (a pitch competition) is not so much about the business viability or “coolest” product who wins, but rather the winner is the founder who is best at selling their idea verbally, with a visual deck emphasizing what they are saying. It is SALES. Take this example into account — We have all seen it; a great product with a poor salesman doesn't get the sale while consequently, a phenomenal salesman can sell you something you don’t need. Although in pitch competitions no one is “purchasing” your product on the spot, they should leave the event remembering who and what you are selling and be eager to see you move forward and take the next step.
Okay, back to basics: K-I-S-S (Keep it simple, stupid!) When creating your deck, allow your images to do the talking and keep your words concise and to the point. Images can tell the story while you add more value but having too many words on the slide can be counter-productive as the audience will be too busy reading the slide to hear what you’re saying.
Now, the visual appeal for creating the deck can also be a challenge. If you claim your company is new and innovative yet you show up with a 2008-looking PowerPoint presentation, you could very well lose credibility before you even open your mouth. The pitch deck is a beast of its own. But I am here to provide recommendations! Canva.com is my BFF when it comes to creating pitch decks. It is the best, most user-friendly, and free design service on the web. No, Canva is not sponsoring this recommendation but I support their free and premium versions to satisfy all of your graphic design needs. Be the new, innovative company you claim to be and explore different designs. Shoot, hire someone if you need to! You are telling a story about your business. Would you open a children's book that was bland and boring? Don’t make your audience suffer; entertain them.
Whether you win or not, (notice I didn’t say “lose” as there are no losers in a pitch competition, just better salesmen) you still should leave the competition feeling accomplished and proud. You did it! Give yourself a big ole pat on the back and take some time to reflect on the judges comments. You now have feedback you can build on, resources and network connections you can leverage and advice to help you fail fast and pivot. Don’t leave any pitch competition feeling defeated or upset if you missed a key sentence you wanted to say. If the rest of your pitch was great, focus on what was great and continue to show up for yourself, your team and your business. You are on your way my friend and I, Kristi, am happy to help in any way I can.
Sure, okay, talk the talk but also walk the walk. I’m here to share with you my embarrassing pitches of the past (to also showcase that it is okay to be a beginner! No one is born a public speaking queen/king.. except maybe Obama.) So with that being said, here are some links to previous pitches:
Happy pitching friends! If you have any thoughts, questions or comments on my post, feel free to email me :) Kristi@shopclutchcreations.com and Stay Clutch!