May 30, 2013
One of the pitfalls of many tech entrepreneurs is pitching their solution simply and clearly. What is it? What does it do? Is it actually useful? Often, we’ll get stuck either trying to explain it all at once or getting too technical for our audience.
We recently had an open house to celebrate TandemLaunch‘s anniversary, and I had to pitch a handful of technologies to guests, including potential investors. I needed to know what my pitch was, and how to deliver it quickly and simply. Throughout the room’s bustle, the constantly-running slideshows, the questions and the waves of people coming in, I stuck to a few basic principles:
1. Focus on a real-life problem
Talking about “motion-path” and “deconvolution” might push listeners away. Rather, focus on a problem they’re likely to encounter. For example, with a photo deblurring technology, I spoke of taking pictures with family at a restaurant, or at night in low light conditions, and how these pics often come out blurry. This is a problem everyone understands and relates to.
2. Show the “after” right away
This step is crucial. You’re selling a solution, not a product. Read that sentence again. Often, after outlining the problem, we have a tendency to explain how the tech works, and THEN show the result. Flip these two steps. By showing your result right away, you’ll benefit from a straight before/after comparison and a “wow” factor that you might not get otherwise.
3. Briefly explain your solution
Whatever you’re pitching, this is the meat in the hamburger – the substance. You need to explain in 15 seconds how your technology works and, if you have slides, explain it in 2 slides or less. Field questions simply and offer to follow-up in person or on the phone at a later time for more technical answers. At this stage of the game there are likely aspects of the technology that are still confidential, and the people you’re pitching to will understand that. This also gives you an additional touch point with potential partners!
Practice makes perfect
Admittedly, some of us might not be so comfortable pitching or speaking in public. It’s a skill to be worked on, and it can greatly improve with a bit of time and effort. In my case, I found it very helpful to join a public-speaking group like Toastmasters, and even to get up on stage for karaoke every now and then!
Additional questions might arise sometimes (for example, who you are and where your expertise lies, or how your technology differentiates itself from alternative solutions), but work on the three steps outlined above and you’ll be pitching your solution quickly, simply and clearly in no time.
Have some more tips and resources for pitching? Share them in the comments below!