Master Your Pitch

We recommend completing these sections on a desktop, printing your sheets and/or saving your work as PDFs.

Master Your Pitch

It’s a big day. You’ve worked tirelessly to get to this point where you stand before a room of prospective investors and make your pitch. You need to be entertaining and informative without boring your audience. Maybe you’ve poured a lifetime of effort and countless resources into bringing this work to life, but now it all has to come together here in those 5 minutes on stage.

Your objective with this pitch is to get the next meeting.


You’re going to have to do a bit of mental exercise here to get a sense of who is sitting there waiting for you to wow them. No pressure (okay, some pressure.) But this is good, because you need to get inside their heads, and you need to know where your pitch is failing or succeeding. Answer the following prompts to get rolling:


Who is the audience for your pitch? What is their mindset as they sit in the audience?

What action would you like audience members to take because of your pitch?

How will you measure if audience members take that action?


What’s the strongest criticism of your business? What’s the elephant in the room when you take the stage?

What are the most optimistic points of the work you’re doing?

Sit in their seat. See from their eyes.

When you pitch, you are speaking to a crowd full of individuals. Each one is thinking along his or her own lines, each with their own objectives, and each one wants to feel like you’re addressing them individually. Take a minute and put yourself in their shoes and picture this:

You’re an investor sitting in a crowded room with other investors listening to pitches from a short list of entrepreneurs, and this is the tenth pitch event you’ve attended this month. Someone you don’t know gets up on stage, sporting a t-shirt with a logo you’ve never seen, from some company you’ve never heard of, and they are about to open their mouth and speak.

Now, answer the following questions as though you were in the audience, and be honest:

What do you want to see from the person on stage?

What do you want to hear from the person presenting?
What do you want to feel?
What’s going to get you excited and keep your attention?

Know Your Customers

What issues are your customer’s facing? How does your product or service make that problem go away?

My customer:
My customer’s problem:
My product/service:
How my product/service solves my customer’s problem:


Now that you have an idea as to what the investor’s expectations are, and about what issues your customer is facing, take some time to think through the following prompts.

How might you grab and keep the attention of the audience with something they won’t expect?

How might you make your introduction personal to your audience?
How might you visualize the customer, their problem, and your solution for this audience?
And how might you use language, sounds, and visuals to engage the senses of this audience?

Get to the Point

You have one thing to tell this audience when you’re up there: how uniquely solving a problem for someone else is going to make them money. Get to it.

The timing on your presentation, start-to-finish, should be approximately 5 minutes - this is all the more time you have to be likable and convincing. This means you have to be as succinct and straight-forward as you can be and still be interesting. The good news is that using fewer words and shortening the time-frame aids in the believability and recall of key messages, because the audience gets tasked only with remembering one or two details and associating that info with how they feel about you. Here’s how your presentation should break down in terms of time:

pitch timeline

And, follow up, here’s what you have to do in that amount of time per section:

The Intro

What storytelling strategy might you use most effectively to introduce yourself and the brand, to establish baseline credibility, to illuminate the problem, or explain what it is that you and why the audience should care? How might you earn people’s attention in the first 15 seconds of your pitch?

Circle one and then give an example of that item in the space below:

   A startling fact.
   An interesting personal story.
   A contradiction to conventional wisdom.

The Demo

Write your answers to these questions in the space below. Who are the primary customers/users and what primary problem are they facing? How might you show how you will make that problem go away? What are the strengths of your business? How does this work make investors money? What is your vision for the product, business, and relationship with the investors? How can you show all of this as opposed to telling the audience this information?

The Business

Can you convey the size of the market? Can you benchmark your business against another’s? Does the business model include pricing? How will you leverage a trend or disruption, that’s larger than you, to overcome the status quo? How are you taking your product to market? How will your offer be packaged, priced and positioned? How will you acquire your next 100 (10,000?) customers? What traction do you have so far? When you are successful in the future, how many customers are possible? Who else can your customers hire to accomplish their job-to-be-done? Why is your team uniquely able to build this business? What will make people want to root for you and your business? What is your strongest piece of credibility? Jot down some ideas in the space below.

Stick the Landing

What is your call to action? Now that you’ve just used up 5 minutes of this audience’s time and attention, what is it that you want them to do? How are you going to leave the audience with a great lasting impression? Use the space below to write a closing that you can say in under 15 seconds.

Simplify, Simplify, and Simplify Your Visual Aids

Being succinct and getting to the point isn’t just about what you say up there verbally. Your presentation deck also sends an important message as well, and the cleaner, easier, simpler they are the better. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you build your presentation deck:

The Visual Aid Review

Could you run this presentation with half the number of slides you’re currently using? Y N
Do any of the slides have more than 10 words on them? Y N
Are the words unreadable or too small to be seen from across the room? Y N
Are there any bullet points anywhere? (hint: there shouldn’t be!) Y N
Are there any detailed charts or graphs in use? (hint: see bullet points above) Y N

If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, stop and go fix it right now. Seriously.

Practice Like You Play

The perception of your audience is your reality.

What you think of your presentation is nowhere near as important as what they think. Therefore, one of the best practices we can get into is to get ongoing feedback from an audience on how they perceive us and our pitch. This Demo Day exercise is worth your time and energy, and it’s as humbling as it is empowering. When you practice your pitch with a friendly audience, give each person this Pitch Practice Scorecard to help focus their feedback to you.

Pitch Practice Scorecard

Total Presentation Time

Conveyance and Comprehension

Who is the customer for this product/service, and what problem do they face?

How does this product/service solve this problem?

Do you believe this team has the skills, ability, and passion to solve this problem? Why or why not?

What I remember most from the pitch is:

At what point in the pitch did my brain stop listening because I was trying to figure out what was said?

What was the presenter’s call to action? What do they want you to do now?

If you had tens of thousands of dollars to invest, would you want a meeting? Why/why not?

What questions, if any, do you still have from the pitch?

Visual Aids

Was this pitch more show or more tell?

Was the information on the slides easy to comprehend? Why or why not?

Presenter Speaking Dynamics

Was the presenter’s volume sufficient?

At any point did the presenter use generic or “banned” language? (Ex: …”and we’re just getting started…”

Did the presenter speak: too fast, too slow, or just right?

Does the presenter appear confident in what they’re saying?

Please provide any other feedback you have for the presenter or team in the space below.

The Perception Gap:

Before you read the scorecards, watch your recorded presentation and fill out this scorecard for yourself. Then read their comments and look to see where the gap is between their impression and yours.

Questions are Evidence of Interest

Your pitch should have engaged the imagination of at least a few folks in the audience. But, if no one comes up to you after your pitch to ask you questions, then you straight-up bombed. So, if you are fielding questions after the pitch, be glad! Questions are evidence of interest from the person asking them, but you risk turning those folks off if you and your team don’t know how to answer these questions (which is bad,) or if you’re each giving different answers to the same question (which is worse.) If you were to sum them up, what are the top 5 questions you are routinely asked? Look at each, and then write your answers. Share them with your team members, determine an answer, and rehearse them. Everyone needs to play from the same talking points.

The Top 5 Questions We Receive Consistently

Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5