Create a pitch
In Project Management there's likely the need to present the idea/concept to others. The enrollment of stakeholders in Project Management is fundamental for a good performance of the output of the project. The presentation of this idea shall be well planned, structured and passed in order to get the attention and interest of the listeners. These listeners can be investors, stakeholders, partners, etc. How to create a pitch in an optimal way will be the analysis of this article. It will explain how to get to the best way of preparing for a presentation of ideas. With the fever of entrepreneurship and the rise of short time companies it has been crucial to understand the best way to pitch. Selling ideas is fundamental in the current days to convince investors in putting their money in new businesses. As so, the create a pitch theme of this article will be based on the entrepreneurship field, whereas the entrepreneur is the pitcher and the investor is the receptor. The new entrepreneurs have to make sure that their idea is presented in the best way possible, guaranteeing that the idea passes the right way, convincing the investor to spend time and money with them. This pitch demands preparation beforehand. The structure and organization of the speech as well as keywords to include on it will be tackled in this article. To think about the pitch beforehand gives the pitcher confidence to present himself and his idea(s) before the investor and the way to prepare it beforehand will be as well explained below. The explanation will follow the model entrepreneur selling a product to an investor, but the concept and form applies for services or even for job interviews whereas the person is pitching herself for a recruiter. Within Project Deliveries the pitch comes in the end as the final step - to present the idea.
Firstly, it is important to separate two different major kind of pitches: the Elevator Pitch and the Full Sales presentation. The period of time of the first kind of pitch shall be between 30 seconds to 2 minutes - the so-called elevator pitch or around 10 minutes if it is supposed to be a Full Sales one. It's called "the elevator pitch" due to the fact that most opportunities to meet investors/CEOs are rare and short (for example to meet in the elevator and you have just the time until he/she reaches the floor). It's also to take into account that investors/CEOs usually don't have much time to listen to everyone who is interested in presenting them an idea as well as to keep the listener interested it shall not be a long presentation as this might become boring and annoying. Nevertheless there are situations where its given the opportunity by the investors to spend more time listening to the pitchers (like entrepreneurship events or because the investor has already some interest in the project. The pitch structure shall follow this order:
Product features: The first part of the speech should be concise and made of key points. It's important to start with the features of the product that are most unique and relevant to captivate the attention of the listener. Features that make the product disruptive in the market are the ones that shall be mentioned straight ahead. To list all the features, regardless of its uniqueness, would be an error as it is time consuming and often not relevant. For this part, only the features that are indispensable shall be presented.
Speaker Background: This second part of the speech is a presentation of who is the person behind the project. It is crucial for the investor to know well who is the person responsible for the project and with whom probably he will work with. Academical Background - In which University did the speaker graduated (if any) and what program did he/she follow. Professional Experience - In which companies have had the speaker contact with. Only to mention the ones relevant for the case, especially the ones the speaker worked for the most time. This is important for the investor to know if the person has experience in the field that can be useful for the project. In this step the investor can realize two things that might provoke a bad reaction. The investor can understand either the person does not have enough professional experience in the area of the project, or even, that the person is not professionally reliable due to the large amount of jobs in different companies the person took in such a short period of time. Though it is important to focus on the jobs experience connected with the project and avoid to mention the ones that might create the idea that the speaker is an unreliable person.
The Why: it is important that the listener understands why he is being approached and with which purpose. At the final stage should be referred why is the listener relevant to be part of the Project Management. A short explanation based on the experience, network or interest in venturing capital of the person must be enough, remember that Less is More and that the attention of the investor shall be captivated until the end. Finally, the most important part of the speech. If the speaker was able to keep the attention of the investor until now, the question that comes to his mind is “Why shall I invest in this project”. The last sentence(s) shall be clear and concise and tell the investor what the benefits for him are (financially, economically, politically or socially) if he wants to get in the project. Once again it is important to keep short and only to mention the key points, if with numeric values even better, to make sure the investor is interested in have a meeting another time for a more detailed presentation of the project itself and the team involved.
A successful pitch, as it is supposed to be a short one, shall have only the essential and interesting information for a third party. Nevertheless, it is important that it contains the features of the product targeted and the problem/need this product solves/satisfies. Moreover, the capacity that this product has to succeed in the market and the importance of the output of the person being targeted, as well as the benefits that the involvement in this project can bring to her. The message passed with the pitch shall be simple, memorable and convincing. So, the features of the product and background of the person behind it need to be studied beforehand to make sure only the fundamental part to captivate the attention of the investor is said.
The selection of the information that wants to be passed is fundamental for a successful pitch. The best way to it is to list all the features of the product as well as all the relevant ideas relative to the project. The process is then simple. To rank all these features and ideas putting in the shoes of the investor and trying to understand what he wants to listen even before knowing the product. After the selection of the bullet points to be mentioned to say them loud to know how long does it take just to pronounce them and to take in consideration that once in front of the investor the explanation might take longer than in a no pressure situation. To write the speech and practice it in front of the mirror is usually a big add not to forget the points selected and the structure of the speech. As well, to ask some friends to listen to the speech so the speaker can practice with people and to know their opinion, if the tone is correct, if the information is clear and simple to understand, if there is something missing, etc. Preparation is crucial not to mix up the important features with the less relevant ones (that can take away the attention of the listener) and mostly to give confidence to the speaker for the moment of the speech putting anxiety away.
Example of a successful pitch
This section shows a structured pitch that can be taken as an example:
Hey! I would like to tell you I have got this algorithm capable of detecting diseases in people through surveillance. My name is Jean Marc and I have got a master’s degree in software engineering from Columbia University. I worked in Google for 5 years straight, started right after graduation. I decided to create my own company and develop my own projects as I have a lot of ideas and I am ambitious enough to move on in my projects. This algorithm will revolutionize the society. With the implementation of this algorithm, through surveillance systems it will be possible to detect diseases in people due to their movements. This has not been implemented yet but there are a lot of private and public funds for this kind of research. I am proposing you to be my investor because I know that you have got the knowledge and contacts in the area that can make this project a great success by being pioneers! Here's my business card if you would like to contact me. In this example it is clear the idea that the speaker wants the listener to get in contact with him afterwards regarding a project which features, and benefits were clear for both, without getting in too much detail. The pitch is below the maximum acceptable period of 2 minutes, which makes it appealing and not boring. The speaker enhanced the relevant academical background and professional experience for the project in question without listing irrelevant aspects. Concluding, the speaker succeeded in passing the idea in an organized and clear way that creates interest in the listener (investor) to become part of the project, selling his idea in a fast and optimal way – important part of Project Management.
This format of pitch might perhaps not fit every occasion. Each case has different circumstances that might change way the speech is made and the way it shall be prepared. This article is relevant though to have an overview of how a general successful pitch can be created and presented. In pitches where the ideas to pass come from enormous projects and the number of features/data to mention just for itself do not fit in a 2-3 minutes gap this method does not apply. The people to approach and the conditions to do it might vary so much that the structure and content of the pitch might change quite a lot accordingly, a good perception of the environment from the speaker is required, as always, to accomplish a successful pitch but once again this is a standard vision that can help on how to go through.