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The Secret to Pitching A former entrepreneur, improv comedian and venture capitalist shares how to make your pitch stand out.

By Stephanie Schomer

This story appears in the May 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Illustration by Guy Shield

Lakshmi Balachandra is a former entrepreneur, improv comedian and venture capitalist. She now works as a professor at Babson College, studying negotiation, pitching and trust development in the world of entrepreneurship. She talks us through how best to engage potential investors, partners and clients, and how to avoid mistakes that can kill a deal.

Related: 5 Steps to Master the Art of Negotiation

What are investors really looking for when they sit down to hear a pitch?
They always say "passion." But I've tested it, and they don't want passion. I spent two days with the Tech Coast Angels [a large network of investors in Southern California], interviewing them, running surveys, reviewing 101 pitches they received. And while they think they want the crazy guy in the garage, they don't. They want someone who is calm, composed, who can lead. Someone coachable, humble and open to critiques. Someone they can trust.

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