Dear Iain,
I have to pitch my business idea to a panel and I’m struggling. I’m not a natural at this kind of thing and to be honest the prospect is making me ill. For a start, how on earth do I boil down what I want to say to a few minutes? Then how do I make it sound good and then …aargh …where do I start?

===================

Dear Jemma,
Pitching a business idea is something that fills me with dread. However as the world’s first Enterprise Agony Uncle I can provide a solution. Four words will sort this so I want you to say after me….” Once Upon A Time”. Many people confuse pitching with slick delivery. It’s nothing of the sort. In fact a slick delivery can actually be counter-productive, as you come across as not genuine. The real key to a cracking pitch is content first and delivery a close second.

The key to a cracking pitch is content first and delivery a close second. Click To Tweet

So how do you reduce everything to a three minute pitch?  You tell a story.  All great entrepreneurs are storytellers and that’s all you are doing.  Some people are amazing storytellers but that comes with experience and trying out things with an audience again and again and adapting as you go.  So here’s what you need to do.

  • Write your story down. Don’t worry if it goes on for pages. This first story will be a mix of good stuff and irrelevant.
  • Read it over and then revise it.
  • Find a friend and tell them your story.
  • Ask your friend to tell your story back to you.  Listen carefully.  Is this what you wanted to say?  If they have it wrong it’s your fault not theirs. So clarify and then do it again.
  • Now find another friend and tell the story again. By now you will notice you are getting more concise and confident. If you are not that’s probably because you are over complicating things or it may be that your idea is not fully formed. If that’s the case then…
  • Take time out! Preparing a story or pitch is no different to eating. Cram everything in and you get indigestion. Give yourself a day or two to stand back and leave it. When you come back you remember the important bits not the irrelevant.
  • Return refreshed and start timing yourself.

Just go and do it and have fun! What do you have to lose? If you convince yourself you have everything to lose then you will tense up and be unnatural.

So there you go – 8 simple steps to a great story – or pitch.

Enterprise Iain
The World’s first Enterprise Agony Uncle

PS remember Einstein said if you can’t explain your idea to your Granny then it’s too complicated!