How to Pitch your Innovative Idea

Before I even start, you need to see a good example of a good product pitch. Check out this video of Candace Klein (of SoMoLend) doing an amazing pitch for her crowd-sourced loan site.

A couple tips on how to prepare for your wicked awesome innovation presentation:

Perfect short.

If you can't explain your product idea succinctly and in 30 seconds, you should probably find a new idea. People will take about half a minute to listen to your story before it all becomes blather. Do you enjoy sitting through 40 slide decks? Does anyone?

Along with being short, make it legible. Some decks have so much text crammed in them that it's nearly impossible for people to read. You want people focusing on you (the speaker), not the wall of text behind you. Keep your font at 30 pt or larger. If it works for Guy Kawasaki, it works for me.

Also by Kawasaki - make your deck 10 slides. Here's an example breakdown:

View your your pitch from their shoes.

The people you're pitching your idea to haven't been thinking about it non-stop for 6 months. Remember that your 'baseline' of the marketplace is different than theirs.

Test your pitch.

Your 30 second or 5 minute pitch will fall flat if you don't practice. Remember that old saying "pitch your ideas in front of a mirror, or else you'll fall on your face and everyone will laugh at you"? Okay, so I made it up, but it probably should be a saying we all remember. Your ego can do wicked things to your sensibilities. Give your pitch to your dog, and move up to your hilarous aunt Jinx, your co-workers, and a group of Toastmasters. Be open to their criticism and questions.

Be prepared to answer the question: "So what do you want from me?"

If your plan is to go fully functional with your product idea - make sure you know how much that will cost, the resources you'll need, and the time it'll take to get it done. Similarly, for any other scenario, make sure you know what you're actually asking from others. Don't run your mouth for 5 minutes and then realize you're not sure what it'll take to get to market.

Don't be boring.

People like to hear stories/anecdotes, see pictures, so they can visualize your problem and accompanying solution. Make it easy for your audience to connect the dots by making things tangible for them. You want them to not just see the end product, but to desire it for themselves.

Move.

You don't want to be just standing in front of your audience reading a bunch of boring 30 pt font words. Move around the stage/room and move your arms. Don't go all wing crazy and flap your arms around, but don't go all statuesque either. Imagine a Steve Jobs Keynote - he's moving across the stage and gracefully pointing to specific numbers or images as appropriate. Similarly, you shouldn't stay on one slide for too long. Try to keep your slides evenly spaced so that people don't have to stare at the same thing for minutes on end. Keep it moving and keep your audience hooked.

 David's Best Pitch Deck Recommendation (5 min mode):

  1. Cover (contact info)
  2. The Problem You're Solving
  3. Your actual Solution (see - right to the point! Show demo or prototype here)
  4. Business model
  5. Why your team? (Getting VC funding is often about the people, not just the idea.)
  6. How will you get people to buy/use the product?
  7. Who are your competitors?
  8. How you're going to shred the market (inspire me)
  9. Timeline / milestones
  10. The resource request (check please)

Now, back to the video. Hopefully you remember how Candace had good slides, was comfortable talking, moved quickly, was fluid on stage, and was able to answer the VCs questions.

Happy Pitching!