Rebecca Imaizumi: 7 things that make a good pitch

I attended the finals for The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award at City Hall yesterday and here are some things that I learned from the pitches and the interaction between the contestants and the judges that you might find useful in preparing for a pitch in the future.

 

  1. Anticipate what questions the judges might ask.

Every contestant was asked “what would you do with the £20,000 prize money?” It’s important to know how that prize money is going to be used. The judges seemed to be more interested in ideas that have already been prototyped or tested, rather than purely theoretical. This was mainly prevalent in ideas that dealt with tech or science, where it has been established theoretically but hasn’t actually been accomplished. The judges seemed to be interested in ideas that could really use the prize money to proceed to the next step. For example, ideas that can use that prize money to start production or manufacturing because they have received wide support and interest, and in some cases pre-orders, rather than using the prize money for future research.

  1. Practice, practice, practice!

Not one contestant had a cheat sheet while they pitched. They memorised their lines and rehearsed it many times. As the saying goes, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Sure enough, the winner of the tech category had a very strong pitch, very calm, very in control, I was very impressed by their pitch. On my way home, I forgot what his idea was until I gave it some thought, but I remembered being impressed and how memorable it was.

Impact is in how you deliver your pitch, more so than the words you use.

  1. Passion is contagious

Naturally, when someone is passionate about their idea it’s more interesting and exciting to listen to. When the “why” behind their idea comes to the forefront and the listeners make that connection, the pitch becomes much stronger, much more real and meaningful. Put your personal story of “why” with a good balance of other important facts about your idea and the pitch comes alive.

  1. Know your competitors

The judges always asked, “who else does what you do? How well are they doing it? If not, why hasn’t anyone else done it?” If you don’t know, then you haven’t done your research. On the other hand, the contestants that answered well also knew their idea very well. Knowing your competitors is also about knowing your own product/service inside and out.

  1. If your idea is complicated, do everything you can to simplify it

Some ideas included many technical jargon or concepts, which were hard for anyone who’s not in the field to understand what exactly it is they were trying to say. Try to break it down so that anyone who doesn’t have any knowledge or expertise in that field will understand.

  1. Be absolutely clear what problem you’re solving and how you’re going to solve it

Some contestants were very clear on what problem they were solving, but some weren’t as clear when it came to expressing how they solve that problem. Articulating the problem itself and how you solve it are equally important.

  1. Have fun and be confident!

The pitches that stood out were by contestants that exhibited confidence both in themselves and in their ideas. Practice your pitch in front of people and get as much feedback as you can before pitching. Practicing is the surest way to gain confidence in yourself and in your idea.

This was a learning experience for me as I had pitched as a semi-finalist in the prior week. I had a cheat sheet then, just in case I got nervous or lost my train of thought. But I realise now that the reason why I needed that cheat sheet is because I hadn’t practiced enough. Most people get nervous, that’s expected and it’s ok. But what makes a good pitch is a pitch that you’ve practiced so much that there’s no way you forget your lines, because it become second nature to you. It’s like singing along to your favourite song. You know it by heart and it’s not a matter of forgetting or not because you got this! The more you pitch, the more you understand your idea and where you want to go with it.

So, the next time you’re going to pitch, give yourself enough time to practice, rehearse, revise, practice, rehearse some more and then practice some more!


This article was brought to you by Rebecca Imaizumi, founder of The Unified Wolves, an experiential design agency that creates bespoke experiences through the performing arts. Follow us on Twitter/Instagram @TheUnifiedWolves, or visit us at www.TheUnifiedWolves.com for more content like this!

Photo credit: Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash

Get ready! Mock Dragons’ Den this Friday

The purpose of the Mock Dragons’ Den session this Friday is to give you final feedback on your presentations in preparation for the Final Dragons’ Den next week.

We will use real marking sheets and the feedback you get from judges should help you polish your presentations for the Final Dragons’ Den. This will also help you improve your business reports where more clarity or info is needed.

Please note: this session is compulsory for all. 

Here is the plan of action:

–> Each team will have 6 minutes for their presentation + 10 minutes for questions and feedback from judges. You will be stopped if you go over the permitted 6 minutes.

–> For Mock Dragons’ Den this Friday: we assume you will be working on your presentations so to allow you extra time, bring your presentation on an USB and don’t forget to upload to Dropbox as a backup copy.

–> For Final Dragons’ Den on 17th:  ALL teams must send me a Dropbox link to their presentation BY 10:00AM on THURSDAY 16 March. This will be your final version, and no changes can be made on Friday. ALL presentation will be accessed from USB sticks I prepare for the day to keep us on schedule, and to avoid logging in/out and any tech problems. 

–> Please take note of the schedule below:
ALL  teams need to be present for all presentations in their designated rooms. 
MOCK DRAGONS’ DEN 10 MARCH 2017

6 min presentation + 10 min Q&A

 

All teams must be present for all presentations

Bring your presentation on USB stick + upload to Dropbox

KHFL0011  KHFL0014  KHFL2007  KHBS1007  KHBS2025
 14:00 Arrival – Please prepare rooms for presentations
 

14:30

 

CarbonX Pantha

(Team must leave after the presentation)

SSAAV Masterly Univeau
 

14:55

 

Catchy Start-up Arabisc Infinity Group 4 Seekers Bright Light
 

15:20

 

PABLO SWOSH C1ean Station Facile ZTZG
 

15:45

 

Black arrow 7Thirthy Dals Innovatio Circulus
 

16:10

 

Neutral The Imparables Shark Hugh Manatee Start Me Up
 

16:35

 

Bluegreen Bracelets 

(Team will be arriving for the presentation only)

Z Company 5 Volts    
GERRY KEEGAL

GAVIN HAYES

ELMIRA MAGOMEDOVA

 

Timekeeper:
ERWAN TOULEMONDE

KESTER KHAN

JOSUE VIVAS

BRIAN SMITH

 

Timekeeper: ALICE COMI

MARTHA MADOR

CLIVE SUCKLING

CHRIS BARLOW

Timekeeper: MARTHA MADOR

MIKE KEEFE

MARK DAVIS

EINAR LINDH

Timekeeper: JANJA SONG

RICHARD ANSON

ROBIN LINNECAR

FRANCIS PREEDY

Timekeeper: RICHARD ANSON

 

17:00 KHBS0026

All teams + all judges – Debrief & feedback


Here is also some advice, based on all the lessons learnt over the years:

–> Be enthusiastic/interesting/engaging – and get to the point! Keep your presentation just under 6 minutes. Script it as you did for the MTCE debates – you all know the drill. Practice.

-> Show images, dress the part, bring your product (bring whatever you want to – if it makes sense for your company!) and be convincing.

-> Do not allow yourself to get surprised with questions from judges. You already know what they are likely to ask. If you are good, their questions will get even harder. 

-> DO NOT argue…don’t even think about it. All humans are biased – you are too, and just because something makes sense to you it doesn’t mean it makes sense to everyone else. 

-> What are you trying to hide? Repackage that NOW so it can work for you – show that you have grown through all the difficulties.

Make sure the judges remember you. And… …smile!!

Please let me know if you have any questions – there’s no such thing as a stupid question and now is the time to ask.
See you Friday, troops!