Guest Posting: 7 tips for pitching investors, by Marianne Fleischer

Marianne Fleischer is a speechwriter and presentations executive coach. As a Corporate Communications consultant, her San Francisco firm, Fleischer Communications, helps clients think on their feet. She coaches others to pitch ideas, handle Q&A, and stand out on panels, corporate presentations or digital media. Clients include Schwab, Apple, Salesforce, Genentech, DLA Piper Law Firm and Charles Schulz Museum.

Want to understand VCs, angel investors, bankers and your rich uncle? First, make peace with the fact that investors are predisposed against you. 99% of pitches they hear sound like recipes for losing their money. After all, many great companies – Pandora, Salesforce, Pinterest — were all turned down many times before they got funding. Here are 7 tips for pitching investors:

  1. REVERE BREVITY: Pitch your business in the first thirty seconds. Many entrepreneurs waste critical time avalanching background data, while investors impatiently think, “But what do they do?” Speak the “What” and “Why” first. Also, have pitches of varying length (1 min. 3 min. 5 min. 30 min.) ready to go.
  2. UNDERSTAND INVESTORS: Start with a vivid picture of why potential customers would give you their hard-earned money. Investors want a founder who gets them. They want a maker who is almost ready for market because they like finding a diamond in the rough and saving the day.
  3. BE UNDAUNTED BY RIVALS: Show insider knowledge of your competitors. Then be undaunted by rivals or history, if you truly have invented a better mousetrap.
  4. BE A HUMBLE PIED PIPER: Explain why you are the ONE to make this happen–now. Investors want a maker-talker who can convince the world – not just them. Show daring and humility, but also show that you seek the wisdom of strategic partners, not just moneymen.
  5. LEARN THE LINGO: Learn investors’ lingo. Master your industry’s patois. Speak the language of finance, marketing and, of course, your industry segment. Money people have heard it all. So don’t stop refining your pitch until you can WOW them. They want to be in the presence of genius, especially if you can keep the “jerk factor” low.
  6. RESPECT THE MONEY GUYS: Even if—especially if—you see yourself as a creative type, show some respect for the money guys. Ask for a specific amount of money. Then break out how you will specifically spend other people’s money.
  7. LEARN FROM EACH PITCH: Make each pitch presentation a focus group for your next one. When an investors ask questions, write it all down. Then deeply weave those answers in your next pitch.

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