Pitch Perfect: How to Prepare to Speak in Front of Investors Here's a guide for how to prepare your pitch for angel investors and venture capitalists the likes of Chris Dixon.

By Matthew Toren

entrepreneur daily

Investor and one-time entrepreneur Chris Dixon spoke, late last month, to a room full of entrepreneurs at the Founder Showcase, an event focused on startup pitches and networking.

During his keynote speech, Dixon, who recently joined mega venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, discussed what he looks for when an entrepreneur is pitching him. Important points include: knowing a problem inside out, having the expertise to solve it, being passionate about your startup (even if it gets shot down) and taking your time during the pitch.

Of course, what may turn Dixon's head won't necessarily work with every other investor out there. But the overall point is the same: You need to be all systems go when presenting your startup. To get to that point, consider this step-by-step guide:

Plan, plan, plan.
Unless you're a professional speaker with a standard presentation, don't think you can wing it and come off looking good. Do your homework to build a presentation that has value for your audience, be it one investor or a room full of them. Think in terms of an engaging start, a solid middle and an ending that will help them remember you.

Related: 4 Ways Introverted Young Treps Can Win in an Extroverted World

Do your research.
Just as Dixon likes entrepreneurs to focus on the three points discussed above, you'd better know your audience. Find out which industries they like to invest in and research the companies in which they've already taken an interest. AngelList is a great source to find this information, as it provides investors' portfolios, how much they invest in per year and what they're looking to invest in. If you aren't a match for the investor, don't waste their time. Also, it can't hurt to reach out to startups in their portfolio and see if they could share any advice for pitching.

Simplify your presentation.
Platforms like PowerPoint can be a valuable tool in a presentation, but don't turn it into a crutch. If you've been forced to sit through presentations where the slides are filled with words the presenter reads, you know how tortuous it can be. A good PowerPoint will drive your ideas home with images, graphs or other visuals. Keep it simple with no more than six lines per slide, easy to read content and font type 24 point or higher.

Related: Want to Charm Customers or Clients? Channel Your Inner Politician

Practice your pitch.
Be it in front of the mirror, your family or friends, make sure you have your pitch down pat. Don't write a script, just notes. Once you have practiced enough, the notes will just be a security blanket for when it is go time. If you rely on notes too heavily during the pitch, you should have practiced more. One big advantage to using PowerPoint is that if you rehearse using your slides, they will prompt you through the speech.

Be early to set-up.
There is nothing more damaging to your credibility than a technical problem. Plan to be there at least an hour before your presentation. If you're projecting a computer screen, bring your own laptop, test it and ensure the sound system is functioning properly. Also, it's a good idea to have water readily available to avoid a dry mouth. Lastly, make sure you bring a clock or timer with large numbers so you can keep track of where you are in your speech and avoid going over the time allotted.

Take a few deep breaths.
Once you are in front of the investor(s), there is no turning back. Everyone wants you to succeed, so go ahead and take a few deep breathes. Inhaling and exhaling will help you relax, calm your nerves, and keep you in the moment.

What other pitching techniques would you add? Share your tips and experiences below.

Matthew Toren

Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


6 Habits That Help Successful People Maximize Their Time

There aren't enough hours in the day, but these tips will make them feel slightly more productive.


SMART Goals May Be Holding You Back — Try This Effective Goal-Setting Technique Instead

Everyone suggests SMART goals, but this framework is flawed. Learn why and how to create goals properly — ones that you can actually achieve.

Business News

Red Lobster Changed Its 'Endless Shrimp' Promotion After Losing $11 Million in One Quarter — Now It's Hauling Out Another All-You-Can-Eat Deal

The restaurant chain reported a record $12.5 million operating loss in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Business News

2024 Could Be the Year that Makes or Breaks a Lot of Small Businesses, According to a New Report

About a third of small business owners indicated on a Slack survey that they aren't sure if their businesses will survive the year.


3 Common Myths About Franchising That You Need to Stop Believing

Tackling three myths about franchising and making the argument for why companies should consider the franchising model to scale their businesses and why it can be an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs to create economic and social value.

Business Models

This is the Real Secret to Success — How to Lead Even When You Are Losing

Everybody likes to win. Nobody likes to lose. But what teaches you more? As in, which experience does more for us—personally and also professionally speaking?