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Tips for the pitch meeting

When you’re looking for advice, feedback or even an investment, it’s tempting to have a pitch meeting. And most of them are terrible.

Some things to consider:

Don’t send your deck in advance. A deck is a special form of media, and it doesn’t work if you’re not engaging with it in real time. Instead, send three paragraphs. If you don’t have a compelling three-paragraph overview, you don’t have anything to pitch.

Make sure you and the others understand what’s on offer. If you’re asking for investment, don’t act like you’re seeking advice, and vice versa.

You’ve only got thirty minutes. Don’t spend half the time reciting your deck. Worse, don’t spend a third of the time reciting your deck at high speed.

If you have questions you’re hoping to get answered, let the group know before you begin.

If you understand what the hard parts/risky parts of your project are, announce that up front. If you don’t, ask people what they think they might be.

Don’t spend a moment arguing about things you are sure to be true. Your assertions can stand on their own, what you’re concerned about here is the implications of those assertions.

Be clear about who your project is for, what change you seek to make, and what those you change will tell their friends. Without all three, you have no clarity and actually, no project.

It might pay to announce what peers of the audience have already said (if it’s positive and you’re hoping for commitments). On the other hand, if you want unbiased and useful feedback, come in fresh.

Are you aware of those that came before and failed? Can you explain why you’re in a different situation?

Make it easy for people to give feedback on the substance of your pitch. And then make it easy for them to give feedback on the method you used to pitch, knowing that people who liked your pitch are also more likely to believe you did it well.

Follow up with a thank you note that took you more than 2 minutes to write.