That’s right, ‘Clarity’ is the fifth principle in our market leading methodology The Six Principles of the Perfect Pitch, and it’s critical to your success. You’ve got a short and precious amount of time to put your idea in front of investors, so you need to make sure that you’ve cut everything that doesn’t need to be there.
We’re going to show you how to refine your pitch, so it’s sharp, succinct and successful. But first, let’s look at all the mistakes it’s far to easy to make in the name of clarity. These are the top six we’ve witnessed when working with entrepreneurs, and it’s advantageous to know they will harm, not help, your cause.
#1 Soliciting feedback from friends and family
It’s natural to seek advice and reassurance from the people you are closest to, especially if they put their faith and money in you during early investment rounds. However, these are not the people to give you pitch feedback. The brutal truth is that if your pitch is a bit so-so, they’ll either not tell you or water down their criticism. The last thing they, or anybody, wants is to hurt the people they love when they are on the cusp of fulfilling a dream.
You cannot rely on those closest to you to be as honest as you need them to be. If you want them to spell check or proof-read the pitch, go ahead as it never hurts to have another pair of eyes on it. Just don’t ask them whether they think your pitch is good because no matter what, they’ll probably say, ‘yes!’.
#2 Asking founders who’ve never raised investment for their opinion
The chances are that various networking opportunities have put you in contact with other dynamic and exciting entrepreneurs who are getting ready to launch their first big idea. Given that you are all in the same boat, they’ll be an excellent resource when it comes to checking your pitch is working well, right? Wrong.
Unless you are speaking to a founder who has successfully raised investment, you are wasting your time. The people who can genuinely help you are those who’ve navigated a fruitful fundraising journey and got investors on board. They’ll be able to tell you what it’s really like to deal with investors. Don’t take advice from those who haven’t, you’ll end up with a muddle of opinions that drag you far, far away from the goal of clarity.
#3 Seeking investor advice
Are you tempted to drop a quick LinkedIn message to an investor to get them to cast their eye over your pitch? Log off right now – unless you want to go to the top of their sh*t list. No investor wants to provide a free pitch assessment service for some random entrepreneur looking for tips. They’re far too busy sorting through numerous investment opportunities as it is.
The only exception to this rule is if you happen to have a close, personal relationship with an investor who wouldn’t be infuriated by such a request. Trust us when we tell you that cold emailing investors will likely end in disappointment and a tarnished reputation.
#4 Putting important words in bold
Sorry folks, but bolding up words is lazy and infuriating. It shows those reading your pitch deck that you couldn’t be bothered to make sure everything you’ve written is concise and clear. Instead, you’ve got trigger happy with the bold button and hoped for the best. This is no way to endear yourself to investors and get them to part with money.
Putting things in bold doesn’t help you achieve clarity. We usually see founders playing this game when they’ve got long paragraphs that waffle on. Instead of going bold, be forensic and take away the fluff obscuring your message, so it stands alone.
#5 Confusing questions with feedback
Every time you pitch, you’ll face questions from potential investors. Those questions are questions, they are not feedback. Your pitch is a showcase and an invitation to discuss the opportunity further, it is not an exhaustive guide to every aspect of the business. In pitches, investors will want to drill down into the detail with pertinent questions, which is not an invitation to add the answers to your pitch.
On the face of it, it might seem sensible to make a note of the questions and rewrite your content. But the result is unlikely to be clarity, it’s more likely to be clutter. Before you know it, your pitch is back to being crammed with stuff that doesn’t quite link properly. Instead of reworking your slides, simply prepare great verbal answers to those questions and offer to send your comprehensive business plan. You’ll find our guide on how to prepare the three key assets you need to win investor confidence here. Once you’ve gone through your content and made sure the clarity you need is there, leave it alone.
#6 Adding more slides
When you run out of space on a slide and you still have things to say, you may think to yourself, ‘I’ll use two slides for this instead!’ This approach is not clarity’s friend. Instead, you need to look at the information and start cutting it down. Be brutal.
This is the nitpicky part of the process, the chance for you to make sure every word counts. It’s the time for you to strip out anything that resembles waffle and leave yourself with a pitch that works. It might be challenging, but it’ll be worth it when investors see you as the sort of investable entrepreneur who can make a pitch sing.