As launchers, we tend to think that our ideas are so great that they’ll sell themselves. We spend months perfecting the idea and then decide to brush over the communication and presentation. But a great idea with bad communication is a stalled idea.
Here are 10 of the biggest mistakes launchers make when pitching.
1. An information-heavy powerpoint.
Too many launchers fall into the powerpoint trap. The more information you can jam into a slide, the more clear the pitch will be, right? Not exactly. When we have powerpoints full of facts, we tend to read the presentation. Reading a presentation isn’t communicating. Instead, use a powerpoint slide as a way to cue what next to talk about. Use bullet points to keep you on track, but explain the details yourself.
2. A pitch that takes longer than an elevator ride.
You’ve heard the term “elevator pitch,” and for good reason. Get in an elevator, ride it to the top floor. If you can’t communicate your idea by the time you get to the top, you don’t know it well enough yet.
3. Thinking your idea will sell itself.
You have a million dollar idea—congrats! If you don’t work on how to communicate it, it will never go anywhere. Before people buy into your idea, they need to buy into you. Even the best ideas can’t overcome messy, confusing presentations.
4. Assuming your passion will take over.
Entrepreneurs love to wing it, don’t we? Our natural charm and brilliant ideas got us this far, so we think that we don’t need to practice our pitch. Too often, entrepreneurs default to “I didn’t prepare a pitch, but when I get up there I know my passion for the project will speak for itself.” Nope, it won’t.
5. You fear feedback.
We don’t want to practice our pitch to our spouse, friends or family. Why? Because they “won’t get it” because they “don’t work in my industry.” Don’t fear that critical feedback. In fact, the true test of being prepared would be to pitch to people who have no idea what you’re talking about. Do they understand your idea by the end? If so, you’re ready.
6. You don’t record yourself.
Prop up your iphone and film your pitch. Yes, it’s awkward and uncomfortable. (A universal truth is that we all hate hearing our own voices.) You’ll notice that you don’t like the way you move your hands, sway back and forth or furrow your brow. Give yourself feedback and keep practicing.
7. You don’t get your reps in.
Lifting a weight at the gym one time doesn’t build muscle. Lifting it for 2 hours once a year doesn’t either. Lifting weights consistently over time is what makes you strong. Dedicating an afternoon to practice is great, but that’s not how you’ll improve the most. Practicing your pitch consistently over time is what will refine it.
8. You focus on perfection over progress.
Yes, you need to prepare thoroughly before you pitch. But don’t let perfection keep you from ever communicating at all. You will get better and better the more you practice. Progress over perfection, always.
9. You don’t read the room.
Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. changed his I Have A Dream speech mid-speech? It’s because he was reading the room and could tell that his talk wasn’t connecting. So mid-communication, he shifted to the renowned I Have A Dream. Read the room—are you losing people? Don’t fear the shift.
10. You don’t train others to pitch.
So you have your idea down pat. It’s refined and perfected. But how does your team pitch your product or business? What do they say when their friends ask them what they do? As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to train others how to pitch your idea.