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10 tips for pitching your creative idea effectively
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10 tips for pitching your creative idea effectively

10 tips for pitching your creative idea effectively
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Picture: Getty Images

Heba Hashem, White Paper Media

 

Pitching the concept of your start-up can be a lot of fun. But maybe not if you are doing it day after day to different audiences. And also maybe not for the panel sitting out there and using the pitch to make investment decisions.

Imagine an evening through which 20 start-up founders are pitching to a panel of venture capital funds. Every three minutes, the panel sits through what essentially boils down to the same boring pitch.

“Imagine 10 start-ups pitching in one hour. The judges are seeing pitch after pitch – three minutes, three minutes, three minutes – and it’s the same kind of pitch everybody’s giving. There’s no story, it’s not inspiring, and the judges are bored out of their minds but don’t want to say it,” says Tarek Fouad, venture growth manager at Sheraa – Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre, where he manages a government-backed accelerator programme team that actively scouts and invests in the best start-ups in the MENA region.

According to Fouad, founders should keep some guidelines in mind while creating their three-minute pitch, especially when it is for a creative project. Here’s what he recommends:

Pitch like it’s your first time

A pitch starts from the moment you walk on to the stage. People are watching you and if you’re walking like a dead man, they will feel bored. That’s a trap that entrepreneurs fall into. Because they pitch over and over again, they get bored and don’t even realise it. “You want to pitch like it’s your first time every single time. Remember the first time you pitched your idea? You were excited about the possibilities and potential. It shows in your voice and your body language,” Fouad says.

Write out a script

A pitch is usually just three minutes. If you want to get those three minutes right, you’ve got to script it. You don’t have the time for fluff, and you don’t have the time to think on stage.

Where should you stand?

The stage normally has a big LED screen, so do you stand to the side of it or in the middle? According to Fouad, it’s best to stand slightly to the side. This makes people notice you instead of just looking at the screen. Which side? “The one closer to the stairs. Why go an extra couple of steps just to stand on the other side?”

The power of silence

While the first 30 seconds of a pitch should grab everyone’s attention, silence for the first few seconds does the trick marvellously. “Everybody will be like ‘wait a minute, what’s he or she about to say?’ Because that silence is making me wonder,” Fouad says.

Choose a strong opening

There are many ways to start off your pitch. You could use a captivating picture, an emotional story, or shocking statistics. Whichever it is, it needs to show the magnitude of the problem that you’re offering to solve.

Skip the names

When you have only three minutes, there’s no time to tell the audience things they already know. “You will be introduced before you come on stage, so people will already know your name. And your company name will be on the slide, so why do you want to iterate it?”

Lower or higher tone?

The tone of voice plays a crucial part in pitching. When selling the problem, lower your tone, look into people’s eyes and pause for a moment to let an idea sink in. When proposing the solution, speak louder, with a more assertive and optimistic tone.

Use space to your advantage

According to Fouad, in people’s minds, the problem doesn’t just live on your slide; it also lives in your spatial area, where you’re standing. That’s why he suggests that after presenting the problem, take a moment to walk to a different side – a new spot where the solution lives. This way, you appear to be starting off on a new sheet, where a new life exists. Similarly, when reaching out to the audience to explain what you need, step forward to get closer to them.

Talk to everyone

Remember to address both the audience and judges. Don’t just keep looking at the judges and ignoring everybody else.

Know when to wrap up

A pitch typically includes an intro, the problem, the solution, unique selling points, and how the audience can help, before you leave the stage. Yet many entrepreneurs end up going back to their project and repeating a lot of things, Fouad says. “Just close off with a logo and say ‘thank you’.”

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