Entrepreneurs have to present their business regularly, so knowing your way around the stage is a must. However, being a performer is not for everyone. Nevertheless, we have some words of comfort: presenting is a technique, not a gift. The following 9 keys to a perfect pitch will help you master the art of presentation.

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1. When introducing yourself, don’t make it plain
Present your mission; tell the audience what makes you relevant. Why?

  • Because it shows people you’re here for the long run;
  • It affects people that find the same things important. These people possibly want to work for you and/or buy your product;
  • It grabs people’s attention.

2. Practise the golden combination: emotions and facts
Facts can be things you share about your background, for example your diplomas, books you’ve read, companies you used to work for, etc. Your story gains strength when you add experiences. Say, the volunteer work you did or the sports you like to play. Also, don’t be afraid to use some humour.

3. Use the structure of beginning, middle, ending
Every story is build up into three parts: a beginning, middle and ending. This gives a clear structure. Divide the parts: the beginning takes up one-fifth, the middle three-fifths and the ending one-fifth. When preparing your presentation, start small and expand later. Tip: create a basis of five sentences (beginning of one sentence, middle-part of three and ending of one). The following questions may help you:

Beginning:

  • What problem(s) are you solving?
  • What is your solution?

Middle:

  • Why you?
  • How does your solution work; how are you sure?
  • Why does the solution fit in the current mind-set?
  • Do you have customers and a good trackrecord?
  • Can you name experts that recommend your product? Any prices you won?
  • What are possible counter-arguments; how can you disprove them?
  • What is your unique selling point?

Ending:

  • What can the audience do? (Call to action/a need)
  • What is the name of the company and where can they find you?

4. Keep in mind the power of three
The brain can only remember a certain amount of things. Behavioural scientists have found that in short period of time a person can best remember three things. Things start to get tricky after the third. Use this information to your advantage.

5.Create an opening to remember
A lot of pitches take ages to get into the story; make the first sentence count. The first 20 seconds buys you attention. Everyone listening to a pitch asks themselves two questions subconsciously:
1. Is this person trustworthy?
2. Do I need to know more?

If you can answer these two questions in the first 20 seconds, you’re more likely to grasp their attention. If you don’t, they might drift off.

6. Formulate a clear goal
What do you want to get out of your business? What does your future look like? A clear vision of the future equals reliability. Now the audience can decide for themselves when they are ready to contribute.

7. Kill your darlings
Take out as much as possible. Too much information can be confusing. French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said the following on the matter: ’Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.’

8.Think of your body language
Start with the basics: make eye contact, smile (not too much, you’re not a maniac), don’t mumble, stand up straight and don’t fold your arms or put them in your pockets.

Watch this TEDx Talk from Will Stephen to see the power of presentational skills (and how it’s not only about what you say, but also about how you say it).

9.Take your time
Don’t rush to your place on stage. Look around for a few seconds before you begin. A lot of people start off too early.

Now start practising
Being a good presenter is not something you learn overnight, so what are you waiting for? Practise our 9 keys on your grandmother, neighbour, sister (anyone willing to listen), and keep on practising until it’s perfect.