Once you have prepared your pitch with post-its and figured out how to communicate with your audience it is time to find out the best way to start your pitch. The very first impression of you as a professional is made in just a few seconds. In this week’s edition of the ‘pitch trick series’ from David Beckett we listen to what the Pitch Guru of the Dutch startup scene has to say about this. His main message? Don’t stumble, don’t fall into cliches but get to your point like a professional. Make sure that you get the attention by being clear and straightforward.
Doing it wrong
‘Hello, thank you for being here, thanks to the host of this event. I appreciate you are all willing to take some time for me’. A common way to start, but wrong! According to David, the very first seconds are to impress your audience, not to give thanks. ‘Most people think about the second thing they want to say. Because they did not think through the very first sentence on stage, they start to burble’. Also, sometimes people begin to introduce their pitch by talking about problems in a changing world. This is also not a great way to open your pitch: ‘That is not what you should do in those very first seconds! You should use a dynamite slogan or statement to grasp attention’.
It is all about the 20 first seconds.
If the audience doesn’t feel it in this little time-span, they will ‘swipe away’ on their phones for something more interesting. Investors get to see maybe around 300 pitches a year, and they can usually feel right away if it is going to be interesting. ‘Brutal, but it is what it is’, Beckett admits.
Who are you and what do you do?
To have an opening that is pure fireworks, make sure to be “brief and brave”. Create a quick framework in which you tell about who you are and what you do. And believe in it. An ideal start would be something like this: ‘Hi. I am David Beckett, I am a pitch coach and I am here to ensure your idea and have a voice. The three big things about pitching are script, design and deliver. So let me take you through it’. After these first 20 seconds there is still enough time to let the audience know why your idea is the best solution in our changing world.
Learning by heart
So, how do you make these 20 seconds sparkly and confident? By making sure you remember them off the top of your head. ‘Write down the exact 20 seconds and memorize them. Even if it starts with: ‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen, My name is….’ You can stick to that and it will help you to get in your story’.
A successful story
In his workshops, David always tells the success story of Ryan Pandya, founder of Muufri. In his test pitch, two days before the Green Challenge, he talked about how deforestation is such a big problem in the world. He was telling a lot of things about deforestation, agriculture, proteins … and David was quickly losing the point. But halfway through his 5 minute story, Ryan suddenly said: ‘We are Muufri and we make milk without cows’. David and Ryan changed the pitch and it worked out so much better. So good that Ryan landed the second place in the competition and won 200.000 euros.