Even the best ideas don't succeed on their own. The success or failure of an idea, even one that seems promising, often depends on how well it's sold. It's only when an idea has won over supporters - whether they're offering to lend financial support or simply influence - that it begins to build the momentum it needs to hit the market in style. Reach and money are essential, two factors that require a really good pitch - whether to investors who can be convinced of the value of a product, or a panel of experts at an event. But how should a pitch look, and how can you convince listeners of your idea?
Know your audience and your target group
Before any pitch, it's important to know who you're speaking to - that is, who your audience is. Depending on whether you're speaking to investors or a panel, if your audience is within your industry or outside of it, the presentation must be tailored accordingly. Think beforehand about who it will be in front of, what questions might come up, and in which directions further conversation may go. Especially with investors, it's important to know what projects they've invested in before and in which sectors they're specialized.
Just as important as preparing for the audience is an exact knowledge of the target group. Showing you're focused on your target proves your business sense to potential investors. It's only possible to achieve long-term success by tailoring a product with a specific target group in mind. Detailed market analysis, targeted surveys, and regular market research are absolutely essential in order to develop a promising idea into a successful product.
Putting the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the foreground
A good brand needs a clearly defined USP, a distinctive selling point that differentiates it from other products on the market. This USP should be put in front and center in the structure of the pitch and made absolutely clear to the audience from the beginning. The product or idea the pitch is about must be presented quickly and precisely in a way that makes immediately clear where it adds value. With an elevator pitch, for example - which usually lasts between 30 seconds and 2 minutes - everything depends on presenting the most important points of your brand in as little time as possible and selling them convincingly.
To do that, preparation is the be-all and end-all. You have to know your product and your market inside and out. That obviously requires a sophisticated business plan - one that you know backwards and forwards and includes sales and financing numbers. When communicating your plan, it's always best to stick to "facts not fiction" - you should obviously show off your brand in the best light possible, but it's not wise to overdo it or make promises you can't fulfill.
A good PowerPoint presentation helps by visually supporting your statements about your product and keeping your audience focused. Presentations delivered as parts of pitches shouldn't be too long, and should contain 10-13 slides, including a title slide. It's all about including the right mix of relevant details, meaningful numbers, and the USP. In the course of your presentation, the most important points to communicate are the mission, the team (to show the kind of expertise you have available), the technology being used, marketing measures, analysis of the competition, and financing, along with results already achieved.
To show innovation in your presentation, consider making use of Beamium - with this web-based presentation-sharing tool, your entire audience can follow along on www.beamium.com on their smartphones, tablets, or browsers. It's not only more comfortable, it also spares you passing out handouts to everyone, as they'll all have the entire presentation on their devices already and can call up individual slides later. This can be especially practical for discussing a presentation later - for example, when investors want to discuss a potential investment with business partners.
The right kind of presentation is nearly as important as the contents, as a presentation lets you convey both personality and subject matter mastery. Be authentic and as confident as possible, and show off your humor and approachability. And practice with friends and colleagues beforehand, thinking about where further questions might come so that you can have answers prepared. And don't forget: enthusiasm is good, but avoid fantasy.
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