Seven-step stairway to the perfect pitch

BusinessZone
Emma Cullen
Deputy Editor
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Performance coach and business development professional, Annette Kramer had the 50 shortlisted contestants at our business boot camp for entrepreneurial contest The Pitch 2014 on their feet hitting chairs to loosen up, striding across stages and smiling from ear to ear. After listening in to Kramer’s workshop sessions, Emma Cullen highlights seven key ways to hone a great 90 second pitch.  

Attend The Pitch 2014 Final in Bristol on 23 October. The event will feature 30 live pitches, entrepreneurial success stories, training workshops and lots of food and drink; all for only £10! Buy a ticket here.

Take a deep breath
When approaching the stage to pitch, walk confidently and don’t just launch into your speech. Take a nice deep breath, this will help to lower and calm the voice.   
Catch your audience's attention early on
Don’t be British about your business. If you've been featured on national (or international) television, in any major publications or have something to shout about then shout about it first; it will make your audience listen. You have to make your business difficult to dismiss, so catch their attention immediately; then be clear on your unique selling point and the problem you are solving. Remember you want to tell a story rather than outline a business plan in your pitch. 
Don't focus on the problem 
As a startup business you should be solving a problem, and you want to include the problem and show how your business is the answer to it. What you don't want to do is spend half your time going into detail about the problem and bogging down your audience. Get to the point, which is your business.
 
Show you're a serious business person
If you’ve got a patent for your product or can produce relevant, firm statistics these will show that you are serious about your business. Showing that you've done your research and invested yourself in your company presents you as a viable business person and someone to take seriously. If there's science behind your ideas, bring them out and show you have experts on board, supporting developments.  
 
Dual pitching  
If there are two of you on stage pitching, you need to be seamless. It's important to have clear transitions and when one is speaking, the other needs to be focused on them and not on the audience. Practice the order that you are stacking your pitch in and make sure you are clear on who is saying what; it needs to be seamless.
Don't be distracting. If you fidget, your audience will focus on your movements rather than on what you are saying, so try and keep as still as possible.
 
Unrealistic aspirations
It's important to demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and aspiration as an entrepreneur but don't put your pitch at risk with wildly unrealistic expectations. Everyone wants to be the next Google. If you are using a similar model to another successful brand that people will recognise, use that to help people understand how your business works. But if you say you are set to be the next Google, be prepared to persuade a sceptical audience.   
 
Lighten up
Keep in mind how you present yourself. Don't put on a serious face, lighten up and smile. When you end your pitch, close by clearly saying your name and the name of your business again; it makes it easier for your audience to remember you.   

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