Do you have an amazing idea for a brand new product or company? That’s great! The next step is to sell that idea to customers and investors. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with outstanding pitching skills. Sara Rachdi, founder of THINK with People, and Amaury Timmermans, co-founder of startup QIQO, share hands-on tips and tricks on perfecting your pitch.
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1. Set out your key message
“First of all, you need to grab attention”, Amaury says. “Your focus shouldn’t necessarily be the needs of the people you’re pitching to or how you can offer a solution for those needs.” The secret to a successful pitch is starting from a key message and adding some extra details depending on your audience. “When pitching to an investor, for instance, you sell your vision with a strong focus on the team that will execute that vision. When pitching to a consumer, you zoom in on the benefits of the product.”
2. Beware of these challenges
When it comes to pitching, the challenges are threefold, Sara Rachdi explains. “First of all, you have to stick to your story instead of adjusting it to the people in front of you. Second, pitchers tend to start with what and not with why. But if people don’t recognize the need, they won’t be interested in the solution. Third: it’s important to tell a story and not just present a list of facts and numbers.” In Amaury’s opinion the toughest part is the elevator pitch. “You need to learn how to fit the message you want to convey into 30 seconds or one sentence.”
3. Acknowledge the importance of storytelling
How you should tell a story? Incorporate the “five pro’s” into your pitch; problem, promise, process, proof and proposal. According to Rachdi, this structure corresponds with how the brain is wired. Amaury adds: “Your pitch should always consist of an intro, a body and a conclusion. First you announce what you’re about to say, then you say it and finally you summarize what you just said. The most important part of your story is the purpose of your startup. Make it stick.”
4. Use slides cautiously
And what about a presentation on slides or a whiteboard? Amaury is clear about it: “Slides are a great way to visually support your message but should not tell the entire story.” Once you’re writing full sentences on your slides, you’re overdoing it. “You can always e-mail an extended version as a preparation for or a recap of your presentation, but make sure to use a short, to the point version when pitching to an audience”, Sara suggests.
5. Explore the American way of pitching
Americans sure know how to be big and bold when presenting an idea. According to Amaury, we could learn a lot from this way of pitching. “You’re trying to sell your vision, your dream. Of course you should be loud and proud about it! Do more than just sharing your dream. Convince people that you’re the right person with the right team to make those dreams come true.”
“We Belgians need to learn to demonstrate confidence and stop being afraid of our ambitions”, Sara utters. How to gain this confidence? By believing in yourself, practicing your pitch over and over again and remembering that a lot of big companies also struggled in the beginning.
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This podcast was made possible by our strategic partners – KBC, Telenet, Cronos group, Accenture, Mobile Vikings, Flanders DC, Joyn, Imec and Universiteit Antwerpen.
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