Delivering the pitch to prospective funders is stressful for entrepreneurs and non-profit heads alike. Andrea Lopez walks us through the steps of creating a pitch that will impress.
“What’s your pitch?” is a phrase that often strikes fear into the hearts of many entrepreneurs and fundraisers alike. But if you’re in the art of raising money, be it for your business or social cause, you already know you have zero excuses.
Fortunately, mastering the art of the pitch isn’t as elusive as it seems. You don’t need public speaking experience or any fancy tools to craft winning pitches. Just keep in mind these three vital points so you can upgrade your pitch from good to fool-proof:
Tell a story
Practice your pitch
1. Tell a Story
From the moment we are born, we are fed stories: at home, at church, or at school. It has always been more difficult to sell products or ideas, but when you tell the right kind of story, it sticks. Studies have proven that stories enhance memory and even have the capacity to alter our brain’s chemistry.
So what makes a good story?
According to Simon Sinek, the author of the best-selling book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, the first step in effective communication starts with articulating the “Why”. This starts with yourself. Dig deep so you can answer the question: “Why are you doing this?” Understand your own intentions, hopes, and aspirations. Only then can you crystallize this externally.
Once you have that down, we can start writing your business story. Not much of a writer? Don’t worry—we have you covered!
Every story starts with the question “What if…?” The rest of the story is spent attempting to answer this question.
Who are you?
What do you have under your belt that will instill confidence in you? Here, you can flex your expertise, background, and the quality of your team.
Why are you doing this?
What problem you are solving, and why is it of utmost importance that you do so? When done right, this gets anyone who listens be empathetic to your cause.
What are you doing?
Try not to cram your entire business story here. Try to quickly explain your solution to the aforementioned problem in one or two sentences.
How will you do it?
This is the time to dive into details; how will you deliver your value proposition? What are the most important features? How is your solution innovative and how will it differ from the competition?
Call to action
Now that you’ve told your story, what’s next? Don’t be shy in making the ask, but make sure you’re clear on what you want your client to do. Be it money, partners, clients, or even website visits, make sure you’ve made your vision and ultimate goals crystal clear.
2. Practice Your Pitch (and don’t memorize it!)
Your written pitch can be absolute gold, Pulitzer Prize-worthy, but if you can’t verbalize it without reading it from a card (or worse, robotically reciting what you’ve memorized), all that effort may amount to nothing.
Practice, practice, practice. This is key, but many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of unfounded optimism. Tell your pitch to everyone who’ll listen - your mom, your Uber driver, your dog - then practice some more. You’ll be surprised by the wealth of responses you get.
Your effort will translate into confidence, which will translate into ease and body language. In no time, you’ll have familiarized yourself with your pitch not just by heart, but by muscle memory.
3. Build Relationships
Remember, not every pitch will get you a deal. But it can help you grow something just as valuable: a network.
Every person you speak to is a potential partner - perhaps not now, but in the future. They may become brand advocates or even point you towards your next potential lead. They may even be your first customer!
It’s easy to lose sight of this, but every pitch is also a human encounter, so treat it as such. Talk about yourself and the business idea, but don’t be narcissistic. Be genuine in your curiosity to find out more ways your idea can serve people. At the end of the day, social entrepreneurship is all about solving problems important to other people. People are the heart of everything we do.
After the pitch, follow up! A lot of people forget this crucial step of the process and are surprised at the radio silence that follows. Take control of the momentum and reach out. Most people appreciate a quick thank you. Showing genuine interest in building a relationship outside of business is often reciprocated at best, and received warmly at worst.
Still doubting the power of an amazing pitch? Allow me to share a quick story!
During our first incubation program, we supported Exceptional Sports, a social enterprise that provides customized sports programs to children with special needs. After a year of operations, the founders realized that they were only impacting the lives of a small number of kids every month, and so they conceptualized a sports handbook that would enable parents from across the Philippines to train their kids from the comfort of their home.
It was a great idea with lots of potential to create impact, but the team just didn’t have the resources to properly launch and scale their handbook.
While we were incubating Exceptional Sports, we were exploring partnership opportunities with Decathlon, one of the largest sports retail stores in the globe! One thing led to another, and we ended up introducing the Exceptional Sports team to the heads of Decathlon Philippines. Our team trained the Exceptional Sports team in mastering their pitch to Decathlon and the team landed a partnership. Decathlon co-branded the sports handbook with Exceptional Sports, and also used their resources to properly launch and scale the product. All of that thanks to an amazing, well-practiced pitch.