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21.10.2019 Lifehacks, pitching

Stop Doing These Pitching Mistakes

F10 as THE HOME OF FINTECH facilitates collaboration between innovative FinTech Startups and established financial institutions. The high-potential Startups in our “Prototype to Product” program have the opportunity to regularly pitch their teams and solutions in front of potential partners, customers and investors. How can speakers appeal to their audience? What needs to be considered when speaking in public? Which elements are crucial for the presentation? We have listed the most common pitfalls related to pitching and provide tips on how to avoid them.

Famous speakers and presenters make it seem as if they had spent their whole life on stages. They do not seem to suffer stage fright and always find the right words to connect with the audience. You might not be the next Steve Jobs when it comes to product presentations, but the following failure list will help you avoid the most common mistakes when it comes to pitching and includes advice on how to execute pitches that have the desired effect on your audience

1. Come unprepared:

The presentation deck looks unfinished, the idea is not presented clearly, and the pitch seems to lack structure: some of the main pitching pitfalls can easily be avoided by taking a little time to prepare. It is extremely frustrating for the audience when a speaker jumps from one idea to the next without clear direction or when the slides are not supporting the message. Backtracking and repeating points that have already been covered are also irritating.

Even in the busy first months after founding a Startup, the designated speakers should always reserve time slots to design the slides, define the pitch structure and practice the speaking. First of all, make sure you know your target audience. The Startups in our P2 “Prototype to Product” program have plenty of opportunities to pitch their solutions in front of the F10 Corporate Members, Partners, Industry Experts and potential Investors. These heterogeneous audience groups often require different approaches. Do a quick research on the people sitting in the audience to find out what might catch their attention quickly. Ask yourself what challenges they are facing in their professional life and how your product or service provides a solution for them. This information can serve as an opening line for the pitch. Be ready to deliver the core message in concise words. Include graphics, diagrams and photos that support your message in the presentation. Use examples that can be easily understood by the audience. Pitching and presentation experts in the F10 network will happily provide feedback on the pitch during the duration of the Startup Program.

2. Elaborating too much on details:

As entrepreneurs dedicate big parts of their time to the Startup and are involved in many work steps simulta, you might feel excited about small technical aspects of your product or service and looking forward to sharing this break-through with the audience. Nevertheless, investors and potential customers are individuals with various backgrounds and in most cases, they are concerned about the actual value an idea brings to their industry and company than about minor features.

Focus on the problem-solving aspect and keep the big picture in mind. To get the message straight, you should use short sentences and precise language. Pause shortly before shifting to another aspect of your message. Take time to clearly define the objective for the pitch right when you get on stage and ensure that every point you include supports the overall proposition.

3. Forgetting about body language:

Most behaviour scientists and rhetoric experts agree that more than half of a speaker’s impact depends upon their body language. This includes gesture, stance and facial expressions. Make positive gestures such as nodding during the pitch, stand straight and balance your weight on both legs equally and smile occasionally. To boost confidence during the presentation, professional speakers open their arms and keep their backs straight.

One essential tip that you should remember is to never ever (!) cross your arms. This gives an impression of boredom, self-defence and insecurity – which is not how entrepreneurs and game-changers want to be perceived! If your pitch includes interactive elements, the team members on stage should be facing each other and communicate openly and clearly within the group. Show the audience that you are a unit by actively listening to your team members and supporting the evidence they present both verbally and non-verbally.

4. Not interacting with the audience:

Many speakers find it challenging to establish or maintain eye contact during their presentation and thus fail to create a connection with the listeners. Interaction with the audience can be one of the decisive factors whether your pitch will be remembered though.

Look the people sitting in your audience in the eyes while speaking. Studies have shown that people tend to pay more attention to speakers when they hold eye contact. This does not mean that you should stare at one person in the audience during the whole pitch. Pick a handful of listeners sitting in different parts of the room and look each of them in the eyes for about three seconds. When you feel comfortable on stage, you may even ask the audience short questions or start a quick voting on specific topics. If you want to draw attention to a specific element of the prototype, point directly at it and look at it on the screen. Once you have established a positive relationship with your audience, your listeners will follow not only your eyes but also your fingers. If you feel confident enough, you can take steps toward the audience while speaking. This physical proximity tends to increase participation.

5. Copying other speakers:

In spite of the high number of tips and examples of good pitches that can be found online, it is important to stay authentic. The audience will notice when you are not yourself.

Authenticity can be defined as congruence between what you say, how you convey the message and what you believe. It is crucial that the speaker truly believes in the potential of the solution developed by their Startup and can show this enthusiasm. Try to get your point straight by expressing your thoughts, use words that form part of your everyday vocabulary and gesture naturally. Short personal anecdotes related to the topic you are talking about may also add to your authenticity.

F10 guides and supports innovative FinTech, RegTech and InsurTech Startups on their journey to successful companies. During the six-month P2 “Prototype to Product” program, the participating teams have multiple pitching opportunities in front of the F10 Corporate Members, potential Investors, Mentors and other Startups. Continuous feedback by the F10 Startup Coaches and Mentors will help the teams improve their speaking and pitching skills.

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