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How to Perfect Your Pitch

Clarity and confidence are crucial ingredients to successfully convey your business idea, to name only a few.

Students flocked to Velocity’s ‘Pitch to Win’ event last Tuesday in South Campus Hall to hear Velocity Coach Rachel Pautler share her insights on how to deliver a three minute pitch — a skill 23 teams will be putting to the test during the Velocity $5K semi-finals on Nov. 9th and 10th.

Rachel Pautler

Rachel said there are many ways to pitch but a three minute one — the time allotted for the $5K pitch competition — should include this key information:

  • The problem – What you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • The solution – Portray how your product works for your customers. Essentially, explain how the customer uses the product.
  • Competition – Without direct competitors, the competition is often a status quo that is not working.
  • Market (business opportunity) – Show who you sell to and how big that market is. Don’t say you are selling to everyone, even if that is eventually where you want to go, you need to say who you are selling to at the start — who feels the problem the most — and who will use the product before anyone else.
  • Traction – What you have done to move your business forward, to get customers, and to develop a product. “What’s most helpful when looking for investments is that you have a product that you are ready to sell and a customer who is ready to buy.”
  • Team – Share who you are and why you are the best team to solve the problem.
  • Summary (tagline, call to action) – Pick three things that you want people to remember from your pitch.

A story with problem-solution connection at its core

While most pitches include the above-mentioned items, the order in which the information presented is not always the same.

At its core pitching is conveying a story — why the business was founded and where it is going to go.

“Order the pitch in a way that makes sense for your business to tell a story and focus on your strengths,” Rachel said.

She said the teams that have come out on top in previous competitions give a good sense of what the business is and how the $5,000 is going to help them take the business to the next level.

And focusing on the connection between problem and solution is key to telling that story effectively.

“Where previous $5K teams have fallen flat is in conveying the problem-solution part of the pitch,” she said. “If that doesn’t make sense (judges) will lose the attention for the rest of the pitch. The biggest mistake is talking about a problem and not making a connection to how the business will actually solve it.”

Practice your Pitch to Win

Don’t forget – it’s normal to be nervous during a pitch. So when you think you’ve practiced enough, practice some more. And remember to get a second opinion.

“Getting caught in your head is easy,” Rachel said. “You may think the pitch is amazing but others might not fully understand what you’re trying to convey. Please get feedback before pitching and make sure you’ve practiced to the point that you can consistently deliver it under three minutes.”

While there are times when pitching will be formal, like a presentation or a competition, pitching is often informal. 

“Yes, pitching is standing in front of an audience, or a panel, talking in a mic with a slideshow…but that is not the limit of a pitch. It happens every time you are telling someone what you are working on — if you are generating interest in your business, you are pitching so it’s definitely a skill you want to practice.”

Still time to register for Velocity $5K Semi-Finals

Want to see 23 finalists put their pitch skills to the test? Make sure to register here for the semi-finals Nov. 9th and 10th.