5 business plan pitch tips that may surprise you

When it comes to pitching business plans to potential investors, a lot of so-called conventional wisdom is simply dead wrong. Here are a few pitch pointers you might find counterintuitive, but you’ll definitely find helpful:

1.) Aim low. If you make outlandish claims, such as touting yourself as the next Google, investors will be more inclined to poke holes in your arguments. And trust me, they will find holes. Instead, sell just hard enough to get investors to nod their heads and think “yes, that seems reasonable.” Be confident, but not cocky.

2.) Be picky. Getting in front of the right investors is at least half the battle. That means people who invest the amount you are asking for, in the industry you’re in, and they invest in companies at your stage of development. Do your homework, and make sure there’s a fit, to avoid wasting everybody’s time.

3.) Less is more. Emphasize one or two points on each slide. No more. These are your friends: White space, photos and charts that make complex ideas simple, bullet points with less than ten words. These are your enemies: Small fonts, confusing graphics, too many words, your company logo repeated 15 times, and consultant speak (e.g. “leverage”, “value-added” and “synergy”). Pitch the headlines, with about 15 slides, in less than 20 minutes. If investors want more detail, they’ll ask for it.

4.) Your deck shouldn’t make sense without you. A good pitch deck is an outline. It reminds you what to say at each step of your presentation, but doesn’t compete with the words you speak. In a great pitch, your eyes should connect with the eyes of your audience about 90% of the time. If all eyes are glued to the slides, you are probably not generating much excitement.

5.) Let investors help you pitch. Great sales people get customers talking, thinking, and wanting more.  The same is true for pitching to investors. Encourage investors to discuss their perspectives and their experiences with related businesses. You’ll learn more, and raise more.

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