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The 5 Must-Have Elements of a Flawless Pitch

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As a passionate entrepreneur, you are accustomed to talking about your product and pitching its features to just about anyone who will listen. You’ve mastered the elevator pitch, the barstool pitch and even restrained yourself from delivering an unsolicited "Starbucks line" pitch. When you’re excited about your business, it’s natural to want to infect total strangers with your enthusiasm.

Lisa Calhoun

But no matter how enthused you are, once you get in front of investors your zealous pitch may be a major flop. If you are looking to fine tune your informal pitch into one that gets investors' attention, I would suggest having these five elements:

1. An attention-grabbing introduction.

Make investors pay attention by telling a story. One of the best pitches I witnessed was Rob Frohwein’s pitch for Kabbage, an online platform providing capital for small businesses. He talked about a client who ran an ecommerce company and struggled to secure a line of credit for inventory because banks found his business model too unusual. By providing this story, details and making the problem personal, Rob gave meaning to the pain point Kabbage solves.

2. A clear vision of a world with your company.

Your job is to show investors how your company will improve lives. George Yu, the inventor of the mobile sensor device NODE, used this principle at Nashville, Tenn.'s Southland conference. He told the crowd, “Node has the potential to turn anyone into Superman with superhuman senses.” It not only got everyone's attention, but he was also funded and won the Nissan Innovation Award.

Related Pitch Perfect: How to Prepare to Speak in Front of Investors 

3. A solid plan to achieve your vision.

Every entrepreneur says she only needs to capture two percent of the market. Okay, that's great, but investors care more about how you are going to achieve that milestone. Your pitch should focus on the execution that makes your idea a sound investment. Show investors you have a legitimate plan to maximize the opportunity by proving an actionable plan.

4. A clear exit strategy.

While it may be looked down upon in the world of startups to be thinking about exit strategy, that is not the case when you are pitching to investors. They want to see return and an exit strategy provides just that.

A billion-dollar execution plan alone won’t convince investors of your business’s potential to make them money. You must communicate a strategy for what will happen after you build it, including who will buy it. Make sure before you get in front of investors you research similar deals and how much they earned.

Related: 4 Ways to Blow It When Pitching For Venture Capital

5. Be prepared and remain engaging

Your stage presence makes investors remember you, so train your voice. Perfect your carriage, confidence, passion and projection, yet, don't sound too stiff or scripted. One way to make sure you are prepared is to videotape yourself and watch the play-by-play to refine your body language and delivery.

Once you are in a room full of investors, try to hold an individual’s eyes in the audience until you get a reaction from the person, then shift your gaze to another person. This creates a connection with the audience.

What other tips do you have for pitching to investors? Let us know in the comments below.


Lisa Calhoun

Written By

Lisa Calhoun is the CEO of Atlanta-based PR firm Write2Market. She was named the Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the ABA in late 2012.