If getting someone interested in your business plan is half the battle in raising funds, the other half is the pitch. Having seen and been part of both successful and unsuccessful funding pitches I thought it would be good to share some of the key tips to keep in mind when preparing for the presentation of your business plan.

1. Plan your time effectively

It always pays to find out how much time you have then rehearse your presentation beforehand. In addition, allow at least as much time for questions as for your talk.

2. Use visual aids

If you can, wherever possible, bring and demonstrate your product or service. A video, computer-generated model, sample or diagram can help bring your proposition to life. Some of the best pitches I have seen have focused around a strong demonstration of the product.

3. Have a clear strategy

Explain your strategy in a business-like manner, demonstrating your grasp of the market you aim to enter or grow within. Please listen to comments and criticisms carefully, avoiding a defensive attitude when you respond. I have seen many pitches fail due to the presenters taking offense to a question or comment.

4. Be as up-to-date as possible

Provide the latest information on sales, profits, product development, market tests or other evidence-based milestones. Some of this information may be too current to include in your written plan so here is the opportunity to add strength to your proposal. You will be expected to know this information so ensure you are well prepared for questions.

5. Be concise

Make your replies to questions brief and to the point. If members of the audience want more information, they can ask. This approach allows time for the many different questions that must be asked, either now or later, before an investment can proceed.

6. Create empathy between yourself and your listeners

While you may not be able to change your personality, you could take a few tips on presentation skills. Eye contact, tone of speech, enthusiasm and body language all have a part to play in making a presentation successful. Your rapport with the audience and investors is key to the success of the pitch.
Why not connect with them on LinkedIn or other platforms to try and understand their background a bit more.

7. Dress to impress

Wearing formal clothing is never likely to upset anyone. Shorts and sandals could just set the wrong tone! Serious money calls for serious people. That doesn't mean a three piece but know your audience and decide what's best.

8. Be prepared

You need to have every aspect of your business plan in your head and know your way around the plan forwards, backwards and sideways! What happens if technology fails? Do you have a back up? – I hope so!!

9. Refine your elevator pitch

You never know when the chance to present may occur. It's as well to have a 5-, 10-and 20-minute presentation ready to run at a moment's notice. Known as the 'elevator pitch', i.e. the time it takes to move from the lobby to an office floor in an elevator, this can also be a useful preparation for writing up your executive summary.

10. Be polite

Always end your pitch with a sincere thank you to your listeners however you feel the presentation has gone. Also, use this moment to hand out your business cards.

Article by Philip Murray of Harlands Accountants Ltd.

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