When I first started speaking professionally a 45 minute keynote was the standard. At the birth of TED, the model got cut to ribbons when the standard became 18 minutes. On Friday night a small group of entrepreneurs will sweat and squeeze their pitches into an incredibly tight 3 minute box. I wish them luck. Hell, wish me luck, I’ve got the pick a winner! I’ve been invited to serve as a judge for this Friday’s CyberTECH Spotlight Pitch Night.
Not being one to throw my fellow entrepreneurs to the wolves, I’m going to share with I’ve learned from my 15 years on the platform. Including the nightmare of speaking to Ms. Joanne’s 5th grade class and surviving the ComedyZone’s Stand Up Comedy School.
When it comes to presenting on any topic, to any size audience, there are three areas of focus. Visual, Vocal, Content. We’ll look at each as we walk through the three phases of Pitchfest.
Start with the content. It’s a variable that expands or contracts based on the length of the presentation. As the duration shortens, each word becomes more important. What to leave in and what to take out also varies. Each investor has their own idea of what they need to hear. Consider asking them directly. It’s not against the rules. If they say yes to your pitch, you’re going to have plenty of serious discussions later. Why wait? Start asking questions.
Rehearse, out loud please – At first it will be too long. Type it up, print it out, cut and slash and pound on it until you are UNDER the time limit.
Once you’re close, record it for your personal review – I know this is hard, but watch the clip Hey, it’s only three minutes!
Review then repeat until you’re satisfied. When you’re done, burn the evidence.
Prepare a list of possible questions. Rehearse your answers. The trick here is to provide a direct answer, then elaborate. If asked about 7, don’t start with 1. By the time you get to 3, no one will be listening.
The key here is to capture the audiences visual focus. As your introduction ends, walk to the center, turn and HOLD STILL. Wait two short beats then start your presentation.
Keep Calm and Pitch On – Don’t stop, but don’t hurry. Like playing the Blues, it’s the space between the notes that count. Bracket each statement with a pause.
You can move, but only in sync with the rhythm of your voice – Speak, stop, move, speak. Focus on an individual and deliver the next statement to them. Don’t stare, share.
Never. Ever, let the timer have the last word – It’s your pitch, you need to take it over the finish line. Trying to squeeze in a few more words at the end is selfish. Finish before the time calls you out.
Questions are the most important part – Have a member of your team jot down which questions get asked during Q & A. It’s the best feedback you can get for crafting your next pitch.
It’s NOT Miller time. Engage audience members individually. You already know how do did, so don’t even ask. Asking, “What did you like best?” gets the conversation started on a positive note. “What area would you have liked to hear more about?” eliminates the simple yes or no response.
Put the worms back in the can with a closing that includes a request for a follow-up conversation. Close with gratitude. Thanks for being here wraps up your pitch with a big bright bow.
I’m looking forward to working with San Diego’s finest. If you agree, use the link below to RSVP. You will be amazed!
CyberTECH Spotlight Friday Pitch Night