Why You Should Strive To Give Amazing Pitches
The past two days I watched about 97 three-minute pitches from my young comrades in Start-up Chile. While there were many pitches I was very impressed with, I was also quite shocked by the number of weak pitches. I’m not trying to call out any one person or startup in particular but instead trying to explain the three reasons I feel delivering a good pitch is very important, especially for young founders: Execution, Respectability, and Practice.
All of the startups in our generation had about four weeks to prep for their progress pitches. By far, the biggest problem for those who presented was finishing within the three minute time limit. Three minutes is not a lot of time to talk about your game-changing, awesome idea but the pitch guidelines were very clear and many still failed to execute something they had complete control over. Just deliver the pitch in three minutes. Several of the presentations were only halfway through their deck when the timer went off! I totally understand there are other more important tasks that require more attention than practicing your pitch but if you need to spend extra hours working to get it within the time-limit, do it! It proves you can execute a simple task. If you can’t execute a 3-minute pitch, it doesn’t reflect well on your ability to execute something much more difficult – running a business. Execute at a high level, all the time.
This next part is tied directly to execution but when I see a company fail to execute something simple (deliver it in three minutes), it does influence the level of respect I have for them as a leader (sorry if that seems judgmental but I think it’s kind of human nature). Personally as a founder, I really want to earn the respect of my peers because they are now part of my network and later I may really need them for partnerships, referrals, advice, introductions etc. Having respect for people and earning respect from people can facilitate great relationships which lead to great opportunities. But when I see a founder blow a pitch because of lack of practice and/or effort, I may still like them as a person, but they’ll not be someone I’d be overly anxious to work with or refer in the future.
Weather you like it our not, pitching is something you just have to do in the startup world. VCs, new co-founders, your first customers, all of these people need to be “sold” and that takes practice. Ok, maybe not for a single founder bootstrapping a small side-project or web app, but I’m talking about real companies that want to make it big in an industry. Pitches are critical and when you have the opportunity to practice in front of a couple hundred people, take it seriously, it’s very valuable experience. Your extra effort and practice may not go unnoticed by someone and that may yield a new opportunity.
Sorry for a total rant but I want this advice to be helpful because I really like seeing great pitches! A solid pitch is inspiring to everyone. Friends, peers, customers, VCs, even a total stranger can be inspired. And inspiration doesn’t need to be delivered by the most charismatic Joe in the world. Someone shy and quiet can deliver a very inspiring pitch with practice, effort, and passion.
Startups and founders run on inspiration. Even though delivering a perfect pitch may not seem that “important” to you, you should still take it seriously and really do your best because it can have unintended positive or negative consequences. But maybe more importantly, it is an opportunity to inspire the people who chose to give you their attention. Good luck.