As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The last thing you want to do as an entrepreneur is make an avoidable mistake before the pitch of a lifetime. Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at Harvard Business School, has been studying first impressions for over a decade. According to her people make quick judgements about people based on two questions: Can I trust this person? And can I respect this person’s capabilities? These are questions that all investors ask themselves while being pitched to. These investors are busy, and often times, you will only have one chance to nail it.
At ProMontreal Entrepreneurs we’ve had some memorable pitch moments. Some better than others. Here are the top 5 things we believe you should consider before your big pitch, to yield the best results.
1. Know who you’re pitching to
There’s no one right formula to pitching that will yield to a sure investment, but doing the right research is definitely a step in the right direction. Cavan Canavan, CEO of FocusMotion, gives some great advice: “As far as walking in and saying ‘Ta-Da! Here’s technology. Give me money,’ that doesn’t work,” he explains, “Know who you’re pitching to and know what they’re listening for.” Here are a few questions to ask yourself: Who am I talking to? How can they benefit financially from my business in the long-term? What do they care about most? How can I tailor my presentation to them specifically?
2. Be Prepared to Answer All Questions
Typically there is a set list of at least 10 questions you can expect to be asked after a pitch presentation. Answers to questions about projected sales, expected growth rate, competitors in the industry, long-term/short-term business strategies, how you will be spending the investor’s money and how you will make money for the investor, should be the least of your worries. Research, knowledge, and most importantly, practice, make perfect.
3. Come with Questions
Many say that there is no such thing as a stupid question. We beg to differ. To us, such a question is one that shows lack of research and preparation (Hence #1 on this list). Asking intelligent and insightful questions to a potential investor can be very impressive. Questions to ask can include the degree of involvement that can be expected, the investor’s short-term and long-term expectations from your company, how your business fits into their current portfolio, etc.
4. Look Presentable
This is a given, so we won’t spend too much time on this one. Looking presentable is probably one of the most important aspects of any presentation you will ever have. Appearances say a lot about a person. When in doubt, the rule of thumb is to look clean, put together, and professionally appropriate.
5. You Are What You Post
Do not assume that your business’s social media pages will be the only platforms looked into prior to your pitch. Investors will most likely be visiting your personal social media accounts in order to have a better picture of you as an individual. If they’re going to be investing in your idea, they’re going to want to know if you seem trustworthy enough. The media has often talked about how Facebook can cost you your job, but trust us when we say that it can cost you an investment as well.