Pitch Types | Accelerator
Now that you have prepared your pitch deck, it is time to work on your verbal pitch. You will need to have several pitch styles prepared as each pitch opportunity is unique and pitch competition requirements may vary.
The first pitch you should prepare is the 30 second pitch, also known as the Elevator Pitch. Many of you have already been working on this pitch throughout the course and now is the time to master the Elevator Pitch.
The Elevator Pitch
When you meet someone new, whether it is an investor, a mentor, or someone at a networking event, you will use your Elevator Pitch when asked about or describing your business idea or concept. This style of pitch is purposely designed to be short and concise – people have short attention spans and you often have less than 10 seconds to capture their attention. Use the Elevator Pitch to get you to the next conversation.
So how do you turn all the information about your business into a 30 second clip?
First – know your information! Your 30 second pitch should always contain key pieces of information however you also want it to sound natural, and not sales pitchy or overly technical. Would your grandmother understand your idea? If not, simplify it!
The Elevator Pitch is audio only – no slide deck and usually no prop (unless it is something you wear or carry). As you refine your elevator pitch, it will become a natural part of your conversation.
Components of an Elevator Pitch
Your Elevator Pitch should clearly state the following:
- Your name and company name
- The problem/pain point your are solving
- How you do it (a very brief summary)
- Your target audience
- The benefit your product/service will provide
Keep this pitch extremely concise – as your practice your pitch, you will become adept at conveying your idea or business in a clear and concise manner. The 30 second pitch should become second nature to you.
- enunciate clearly and breathe as you speak
- be excited about your idea – disinterest shows in your eyes and can be an instant turn-off for potential investors, partners, or customers
- avoid rambling speech – keep it concise and under 30 seconds!
- relax – you’ve got this!
TELUS Pitch: Tips from judge Arlene Dickinson, District Ventures
The 5 Minute Pitch
Pitch opportunities (outside the initial Elevator Pitch) vary in length, time, and format thus you must be prepared to adapt your pitch for any situation. The most common pitch times are 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes thus we will use the 5 Minute Pitch as our default example.
The 5 Minute Pitch may or may not include the opportunity for a slide deck or visuals. This can make pitching complicated if you rely solely on your slide deck to guide you.
Whether you pitch is audio only, or includes a deck, you should include your name, your company name, and the following components:
- Go To Market Strategy
- Disruption | Product
- Scalability & Traction
- Competition | UVP
- Ask (this may be the amount you need or even the resources you need)
These components are covered further in the Pitch Deck lesson.
The order of each component of your pitch may vary based on the directions you may receive from the person/event you are pitching to or, based on your personal preferences. It is always recommended to follow the requested pitch format over your own preference. Why? The judges or investors may be listening for the information in a particular order – you want to make it easy for them to hear your information in the order they expect.
Pitches should be customized for each formal pitch event or presentation. Before the pitch, research your audience. Who are the judges? Who are the investors in the room? Who else is in the room? Who do you want to notice you?
Doing your research beforehand allows you to target specific people and to avoid explaining basic knowledge to someone who understands or, worse, explaining your idea at too high of a level so that your target audience cannot comprehend what you are saying. You can also appeal to emotions and interests of judges or investors by finetuning your pitch to include something that specifically interests them such as social good, eco value, job creation or ecommerce. The options are unlimited as long as they relate to your business and fit well within your pitch.
Adjusting Your Pitch for Time
3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. How do you adjust your pitch to reflect time?
As stated above, we are focusing on the 5 minute pitch as a starting point. To adjust your pitch, you simply need to reduce or add material to each section. Additional time allows you to explain a section of particular interest to the judges in greater detail. Less time means being more concise and focusing on key points.
In a 5 minute pitch, you have approximately 30 seconds per section.
In a 10 minute pitch, you have approximately 1 minute per section.
A 3 minute pitch is about 20 seconds per section. Think of it as an expanded elevator pitch where you have added the addition pitch sections, with or without a slide deck.
Regardless of the time available for your pitch, remember this rule: Never go over your time!
Often more important than the pitch itself will be how you pitch. Poor presentation may prevent your pitch from being heard or taken seriously.
The following tips will assist you in making sure you shine on stage or off:
- Dress to impress (it doesn’t have to be a suit or dress but take care with your appearance – avoid having a disheveled appearance)
- Enunciate clearly and speak at a conversational pace (140-160 words per minute). If your audience cannot hear and understand you, there is no sense in pitching.
- Be engaging. Ever watch or listen to someone speak and find yourself struggling to pay attention? You want to ensure you are engaging your audience. Let your excitement in your company shine through. Vary your speech (no monotone). Use body language.
- No reading. Whether you are using a slide deck or presenting audio only, avoid reading notes or looking at your slides (except for time reference). You need to know your pitch inside and out thus no notes should be required. The slide deck should be a reference for your audience, not you.
- Prepare for the unexpected and carry on. Technical issues? The background falls over? Slide deck not permitted though you expected it to be? Screw up part of your pitch? Before you pitch, you should know your material well enough to present under any circumstances. Breathe. Refocus. Carry on. If you missed or screwed up part of your pitch, just keep going. Depending on the error, the audience may not even notice – unless you bring attention to it. Self-deprecating humour (being able to laugh at yourself) can also assist in this area. In fact, self-deprecating humour can show emotional intelligence.
- End on time. At some pitch events, your mic will be cut off. If you have not finished your pitch or made your ask, you are out of luck. Ending on time is also a sign of respect and appreciation of the time your audience is giving you.
- Thank your audience. This does not need to be a grandiose thank you however you should always give a brief thank you acknowledging the time and opportunity. This demonstrates respect and is a simple act of being polite.
You will find many examples of pitches online by googling pitch competitions.
Here is a list of some of the top pitch competitions (search YouTube or Vimeo for videos if they are not on the website):
- Y Combinator Demo Day
- TechCrunch Disrupt
- HATCH Pitch
- Collision PITCH Competition
- techstars Toronto Demo Day
Take some time to watch a variety of pitches at pitch events around the world. For a different type of pitch, watch the pitches at Get In The Ring. Get In The Ring is a global event brought to you by The Unknown Group where startups pitch off against each other in a boxing ring!