You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

3 Ways to Boost Your 'Executive Presence' While Pitching for Funding An entrepreneur has precious little time to convince anyone they are the real deal. Here are some ways to help your chances.

By Harrison Monarth

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Michael Yarish/AMC

Having "presence" and a personal brand are must-have attributes in our noisy me-too world of neck-and-neck competition. Alas, it's often not enough to clinch the deal or make the sale.

Even with a proven track record and a well-established reputation, an entrepreneur has precious little time to convince anyone -- not just the skeptics -- that they and their ideas are the real deal.

Here are three strategies that have served thousands of entrepreneurs and corporate managers in selling their ideas and proposals to even the most critical audiences. Combine them and boost your chances for funding, no matter how high the stakes.

Offer real value right away. With adult attention spans maxing out anywhere from eight seconds to 20 minutes, presentations that fail to capture interest immediately and sustain it through the critical parts have a slim chance of winning converts.

Related: Advice on Securing Funding from Young Female Entrepreneurs

Say you're the flip-flop wearing nerd with a comic-con T-shirt and a haircut that says "past-due," and you really have no business addressing more civilized audiences, except that you're a genius and you have something to offer that would change lives for the better. Your look may give you some "Silicon-Valley street cred," but that's going to expire like yesterday's milk unless some really good stuff comes out of your mouth from the start.

More than anything else, influential decision-makers want to know how you think, whether your ideas make sense, whether you should be trusted, whether you have the confidence to pull it all off, what the numbers really mean to them and the company, and most importantly, what the business outcome is if your proposals are accepted and turned into projects. They have a lot of questions on their minds and the quicker you answer them, the more they'll like you, dirty fingernails and all.

Don't flinch in the hot seat. Don't expect the audience to wait for the formal Q&A to start. In preparing thousands of entrepreneurs and corporate managers for high-stakes presentations, I've rarely seen an audience of decision makers wait for a cue when a red flag pops in their mind. The way you conduct yourself when the tough questions come flying from all directions can determine the outcome of your pitch, for better or worse.

Related: Tips for Delivering Kickass Business Presentations

Therefore, know your material from all sides. Know what holes they'll poke before they raise their hand. Ask yourself the tough questions -- and come up with answers -- before they do. Have the research in your back pocket. Be measured and calm when the pressure is on. Losing your cool when emotions run high will lose you points in the final tally. Keep your answers short and to the point. Offer to provide more data if needed and follow up immediately.

Tell stories that communicate values. Stories accomplish what numbers and stats can't. They create a human connection and give others a glimpse into your values and beliefs. Tony Hsieh of Zappos told the story of an employee who, on her own, sent flowers to a customer who'd just lost her husband. "You can't put that into an employee handbook," he said. Rather than telling people who you are, tell them a story that demonstrates what's important to you on a deep level and capture not just their minds, but their hearts in the process.

To find these stories, reflect on the many common bonds that connect us as humans. We've all learned lessons, turned around a bad situation, found inspiration in others successes and joined in collaboration toward a worthy goal. The powerful messages gleaned from these stories are what make a business pitch real and the pitcher trustworthy to an audience.

Executive presence is most of all about authenticity, credibility and the human connection. And those are as often dressed in a hoodie as in a pinstriped suit.

Related: How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Harrison Monarth

Executive Coach, New York Times bestselling Author, Leadership Development Consultant

Harrison Monarth is an executive coach, leadership consultant and the New York Times bestselling author of The Confident Speaker, and the business bestseller Executive Presence. Monarth coaches entrepreneurs and corporate executives from the Fortune 500 on positive behavior change, authentic leadership and effective communication, including making pitches that win multi-million dollar contracts. His latest books are 360 Degrees of Influence and Breakthrough Communication. You can find him at gurumaker.com.

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

Business News

A Non-Profit Newspaper Published a Column Criticizing Facebook. Then Meta Blocked All of Its Posts.

Facebook's communications chief said that the posts were removed because of "a mistaken security issue."

Business News

A Look Inside the Company That Is Making $500 Million a Year Serving Italian Beef Sandwiches Made Famous by 'The Bear'

Portillo's CEO Michael Osanloo shares his secret to keeping hungry customers coming back again and again. (Hint: It requires a lot of napkins.)

Business News

Walmart Shoppers May Be Eligible for $500 After Settlement

Walmart shoppers who purchased weighted goods or bagged citrus in the U.S. or Puerto Rico from late 2018 through early 2024 might be eligible for a share of a $45 million settlement.

Business News

Total Solar Eclipse 2024 Live Feed: Where, When and How to Watch the 2024 Eclipse

Here's what to know about the total eclipse 2024 and a live stream from NASA.

Business News

Elon Musk Reveals When Tesla Will Release Its First Robotaxi

Tesla's CEO says the fully autonomous Tesla taxi is arriving soon — in 122 days.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.