How to Pitch Your Idea and Crush It
Ps: I have attached a video at the end of this post if reading seems tricky today
You have an idea that you’re passionate about and now it’s time to explain it to somebody else. Whether it’s a pitching competition or a business partner, if you can’t articulate your idea, chances are, you won’t get the support that you need to get it off the ground.
I’m going to share with you the five most crucial parts of any pitch. And by pitch, I don’t mean a 20-minute investor presentation but rather a 3– 5-minute long enticing story that builds intrigue and gets you a private conversation.
But, before we get started, I want to share a couple of insights with you, around human psychology, why it’s important and how to create better, more effective pitches.
Human psychology and why it’s so important when you pitch
Now, in order to get the most effective pitch together, you need to understand how the brain works, and in specific, three parts of the brain. These are your reptilian brain, your limbic brain and your neocortex.
If you understand these, you will understand why some pitches do better than others.
In the first part of the brain, we’ve got the reptilian brain. This is our most instinctual part of the brain. It allows us to quickly gauge whether something is threatening or non-threatening, whether we need to run away or fight it. Whether we can hunt it or we can mate with it.
The second part of the brain is the limbic brain. This really allows us to gauge our emotions, rewards and connection. It focuses on social interactions.
Lastly, we’ve got the neocortex. Neocortex allows us to logically think. This is our rational part of the brain. It’s a very analytical part of the brain and allows us to quantify different solutions and different avenues of a given scenario.
What we need to understand about the neocortex is that it runs on high energy levels. It helps us with complex problem solving and decision making. This part of the brain will not start kicking in unless some criteria have been achieved.
It’s requirements are that information needs to run through the reptilian part of the brain first.
In order to get the information from the reptilian brain, through the neocortex, the information must be novel, summarized, high contrast and as visual as possible.
First, we decide whether we can trust this information, how it makes us feels, then we can start thinking about it logically. So for you technical wizzs, do not talk about all that jargon and technical stuff until you have build trust and triggered some emotions.
So what does this mean for you?
Next time you do a presentation, make sure you deliver in high contrast. In order to get people out of the reptilian brain and into the neocortex, you want to deliver something novel, something previously unheard. Think about a polarising statement or even questions that you can ask your audience, to make them stop, think and engage with your pitch.
Focus on the trust first, get past the reptilian brain, into the limbic brain and finally into the logical part of the brain with your numbers, etc.
Don’t try to impress with techy talk early on, all your audience wants to know is whether they will or could do business with you.
A great way is to use before and after stories, find a story or an example that emotionally hooks your audience.
The 5 Parts — A not so natural but logical structure:
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how the brain works, let’s have a look at the logical structure that you can use in order to engage with your audience.
Think about a Hollywood movie, they all start with the same routine, the same framework, and as they go through the story of the hero or heroine, it essentially all comes down to a beginning, middle and end.
This is the same structure you want to use for your pitch.
Before I show you the structure, have a look at Big Willie’s pitch. He starts out with a high contrast, builds trust, emotion and later gets into the rational numbers and logic. His pitch is 3 minutes long.
Start your pitch off by talking about your team.
This is really giving credibility to what you’re about to say. Your whole pitch will be based on the credibility of your team and who you are. So make sure that you are talking about why you are the best to take this idea forward and what team members you need next. This builds credibility and trust.
People often don’t like putting this first, my argument is that people do business with people. If they don’t like you or trust you, it doesn’t matter how good your product is, they won’t do business with you.
Tips for your team slides:
- Use brand names that you have worked with in the past. If your audience is familiar with the brand, awesome. If you worked for large companies like Microsoft, Google or Apple in the past it gives you huge street cred, these companies don’t exactly hire incompetent staff.
- If you were able to achieve some significant outcomes or growth for these brands, mention it. Now you’re demonstrating skill and measurable outcomes.
This leads us into the next part of the presentation, which is probably one of the most important parts. Reason being that if you cannot articulate the problem well enough, the rest of the pitch doesn’t matter. You must show that a problem in the market exists and you have found it. You spoke with people and they confirmed that there is a need and they have demonstrated that it needs solving and they are willing to pay.
The questions you want to answer in this slide or in this section of the pitch is really around the following:
- What is the problem,
- Who has the problem,
- Why it exists and why it is so important to solve it.
Now, a couple of tips on how you can do that is by telling an emotional story. Use a before and after story, or maybe even a use case of how your product will help solve this problem.
After you speak about the problem you’re about to solve, and quantified it, you really want to start talking about your solution.
This is really understanding and bringing across how your solution addresses your customers’ problems.
You want to make sure that it does it faster, differently and high contrast to existing alternatives. What you also want to demonstrate is how your solution is really a painkiller, not just a vitamin.
If someone has a headache, selling painkillers is easy, trying to sell someone vitamins to avoid getting sick is harder.
Shows how people need your product, rather than how it is a ‘nice to have solution’.
Some questions you want to answer to help you create your solution slide:
- How does your solution address your customer’s problems?
- Does it do this faster, better, differently than others? What is your key value proposition?
- How can you visualise it and demonstrate that it is a Painkiller and not just a vitamin?
By this stage, your audience believes that you have identified a problem or need int he market. You have demonstrated your superior solution and now it is time to show the bigger picture than just the small market you have mentioned so far.
Up until now you probably focused on a narrow target market of your total addressable market. In this section, you want to paint the bigger picture of what the opportunity is.
In specific, you want to talk about the wider market you identified and how you’ve calculated it. What other sectors can your solution be applied to? What other customers shave showed interest?
This is outside of just your local geographical area, you really want to make sure that you understand what your entry strategy is and how you plan to capture your market.
Traction separates people with dreams, to people executing plans.
Now that you’ve explained the bigger picture about your market idea, you want to talk about traction. This is really what you have already done and it demonstrates that you’re moving forward in your company. Traction separates people with dreams, to people executing plans.
Makes sure you can clearly demonstrate if you’ve been profitable in the past. If you’ve got partners helping you execute on your plan, perhaps through a corporate partnership. If you’ve got team members on board that have significant experience or have signed contracts with customers or even active users, this slide is where you talk about them.
Traffic to websites and any number that can help you quantify what you’ve already done will come in handy here.
Some ideas of how I think about traction is as follows:
Have you already got:
- Active users/ Customers
- Registered users
- Growth, etc
A roadmap is all about showing and demonstrating the steps on how you’re going to execute on your market opportunity.
Make sure that when creating your roadmap, you will break it down into achievable milestones.
You want to clearly show what you need at each stage and what you’re going to deliver. Make sure you line your roadmap with your ask, this is really understanding the purpose of the presentation and what you’re looking to get out of it. Make sure that you ask your audience what you need in order to achieve your milestones and capitalize on market opportunity.
A roadmap showcases the next steps. Think about:
- What are the next steps?
- What is your plan to grow?
- If you’re pitching as part of a competition, Where will you use the winning money/ grant/ fund money?
Now you’ve got all the tools that you need to create an effective pitch. If you’re working on a business and you want more practical tips like these, make sure you follow us on social media selfstarters.academy or head to my website, www.selfstarters.co.nz
Here is my video explaining the structure