Live pitching & tips for success

Shaun Millican

Shaun Millican

Business Advisory Partner

Scottish Edge is upon us once again, and EDGE22 is very much up and running. At this time of year, our support of EDGE begins with our pitch panel sessions.

These are an opportunity for semi-finalists to practice their pitch, in front of an experienced and supportive panel. It’s a great opportunity for the semi-finalists, but also exciting for us to hear from Scotland’s emerging entrepreneurial talent.

Pitching is one of the most crucial elements for entrepreneurs and is something that may happen more than once in the early stages of growth. It’s therefore important that you stand out from the crowd for the right reasons, and incorporate learnings from the practice environment.

It can be easy to overthink your pitch, but you’ve got to put in the work behind the scenes to ensure it is delivered seamlessly to the panel. I’ve compiled my top tips to help you make those final winning tweaks.

A punchy introduction

For starters, you will only ever have a short amount of time (three minutes at Scottish EDGE for example) to grab the attention of the panel and engage them quickly. A short elevator style presentation which covers the why, what, and the why now of your proposition, but avoids acronyms and technical jargon is essential. Ideally, a nice clean visual aid showing your product or branding and which engages the audience will also help.

The why - articulate the problem and/or market gap for your product or service

One trap when pitching, is to jump straight into the ‘what’, describing what your business is and this trap is particularly evident for technology propositions where significant time is spent describing the tech.

To help your audience connect emotionally with your proposition, you should firstly explain the problem from the customer perspective. If the panel doesn’t understand the problem then they won’t buy into your solution, no matter how impressive it might be. So, start with the problem.

The what

You’ve identified the problem, now tell them how your business can solve it better than the rest. You should cover how your product/offering is unique and the competitive advantage your business will enjoy as a result.

The why now

You can be solving a big problem and you can have an improved solution to that problem but unless you have a market that is ready to adopt your solution now, it will be difficult to convince your audience that you will be successful.

It is therefore critical to evidence that there is a market pull for your product/service. That might come from customer feedback/engagement, but there may also be other business, legislative or macro drivers that that you can point to.

Other areas to cover

In a short pitch, it is impossible to cover all aspects of your business but neither do you want to leave significant areas out entirely.

It can be possible therefore to use visual aids to get points across without having to spend undue time explaining them. The post-pitch Q&A can draw out more of the details.

Areas to consider covering would include:

  • Your team;
  • The business model – how will you generate revenue and grow shareholder value;
  • Market size – how big is your addressable market and is it growing;
  • High level financials;
  • Use of funds – what do you intend to do with the money. In the context of a pitching competition like EDGE, you want to demonstrate the ‘impact’ that the money will have.

Be prepared

In such a short time, you should not try and cover every aspect of your business. With EDGE, there is six minutes of panel questions following your pitch where you can further expand on key points. This is a common approach for most pitching opportunities. The aim of the pitch is to engage the panel quickly, and in a process which will hopefully result in them wanting to award funding to your business.

Aside from the content, who presents and the style of presentation are also important factors. The presenter should speak knowledgeably but also passionately about the proposition. Visual aids are a double-edged sword. Good ones will help re-enforce what the presenter is saying and engage the audience whilst poor, overly detailed slides will distract and potentially lead to an important point being missed because the focus is on the screen and not the presenter.

By far and away some of the best pitches I’ve seen are where the presenter is personable, clearly passionate about their company and visual (and audible!) aids are engaging. These elements combine to help take the panel on a very short journey to convey the proposition.

For more tips on refining your presentation or to discuss your business growth plans, visit our Entrepreneurial Focus hub.

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