Successfully Pitching to Funders – 10 Tips

Pitching for your first grant or investment can be a daunting task. We’ve in the past pitched to a few funders including a Competitive Start Enterprise Ireland pitch last December for our Kesho Town game. We’re currently batting 100% (Albeit we’ve only gone for a few!) but still we’re reliably informed that our pitching was top of the pile so I thought I’d share the process.

  1. Credit goes to my mentors here, anyone who thinks they can go it alone should re-evaluate. It’s really important to have an outside opinion when creating pitch decks and working out the wording.
  2. Unless it’s to a panel made up completely of subject matter experts keep the pitch simple – and even then keep it simple, the worst part of subject matter expert pitching is if you say something they don’t understand there is a distinct possibility they’ll stay quiet and not ask, leaving them in the dark as to what you meant. No acronyms, no jargon unless you have the time to explain it. Imagine you’re pitching to someone who normally buys wheelbarrows.
  3. Less words more graphical, reading a slide to someone is the worst thing ever because no matter how fast you talk, they can read faster, and get bored / tune out. Make the graphics tell the story visually and you narrate. Look at infographics on the web to get an idea of what works.
  4. Pitch to others who don’t know your idea, who don’t understand it and who’ll give you honest feedback. I’ve sat in on horrendous presentations where the presenter was told by a friend afterwards how he nailed it. If they won’t tell you you suck then find someone who will (with constructive feedback obviously)
  5. When you are doing your demo pitch have someone in the corner note all the comments, suggestions and feedback. Filter these into version 2 and pitch again.
  6. Be prepared to leave a couple of easy non-critical questions unanswered by the pitch, but have great answers ready for them. It allows you to pre-empt the after pitch Q&A and come across even stronger, you don’t what to be umming and ahhing your way through the Q&A.
  7. Prepare prepare prepare – If you’re pitching and you’ve 7 minutes, have the pitch down to last 6:50, take the last 10 seconds to point out that you’re just about to run out of time and thank everyone. It shows a level of preparation that they probably won’t have seen all day. Respect their time.
  8. Preempt any technical issues to ensure you won’t be left with your pants down. Bring your own copy of the presentation on usb, bring your own laptop, bring adapters for different projector screen types, heck in the past I’ve even had a projector in the bag just in case (spot the boy scout)
  9. Be relaxed, interact with the panel if you can. People buy from people, if you come across relaxed and friendly it’ll stand to you when it comes time to make the decision.
  10. Dress appropriately, when pitching in an environment where casual is good, go with it but if you’re presenting to a government body, dress as you would expect them to dress. First impressions last and if you rock up in a pair of ripped jeans and Converse then they’ll remember that over the great idea you have. It may not be fair and if you are that uncomfortable bring a change of clothes for after, but for those 10 minutes be what they need you to be.

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