Shakespeare wrote that “all the world’s a stage”, but perhaps the world is more akin to a budget movie. After all, we only experience the world through our own eyes and ears, like watching the rushes of a single camera operator.
The camerawork may be shaky, the dialogue tedious and the plot sometimes plods along. But to each of us, the movie is compelling, because it’s our story that we are watching.
This means that when you prepare a pitch, you focus on what you want from it, what you’d like to say and perhaps how nervous or confident you feel about delivering it.
Of course, the investors on the other side of the table are all lead actors in their own internal movies, and interpret everything you say through that filter.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the most common complaints we hear from investors is that those pitching haven’t tailored what they’re saying to the people in the room.
Investors don’t want to be ‘taken through’ a generic presentation. That’s a Level 1 investment pitch: a buffet of information that’s got a little something for everyone, but lots that isn’t relevant or of interest.
Your pitch should be more like a made-to-order dish. When you first meet investors, ask what they’d like to focus on, then focus your presentation around that. That’s a Level 2 pitch: tailored to the audience.
However, the most effective pitches go one step further, to Level 3. These pitches are based on extensive research about the people on the other side of the table:
1. What are their investment goals? A Level 3 pitch demonstrates how investing or buying your company will bring them closer to those goals.
2. What are their backgrounds? A Level 3 pitch finds mutual connection to build trust and likability.
3. Why might they want to buy into your company? A Level 3 pitch clarifies and verbalises the hook – the reason why this is the right move for this investor right now.
The entire investment pitch is then oriented around the answers to this research. But it doesn’t stop there. A Level 3 pitch is a dialogue, not a monologue.
What does that mean? It means you pause and interact, checking in with investors as you go:
• ‘Have you seen this before?’
• ‘Does that make sense?’
• ‘What are your thoughts on what we’ve shown you so far?’
If an investor has an unresolved question, they will be distracted from listening to what you say next. So, give them an opportunity to put forward their thoughts and questions. You then have a chance to clarify and respond before you proceed.
Equally, inviting feedback helps you read the room, so you know when you need to spend extra time on a topic, or move your presentation along.
Of course, adapting your pitch on the fly is not as easy as performing a pre-prepared monologue. It requires that you know your material inside-out. It demands additional preparation and rehearsal. You’ll need a coach to help you get there.
But for the investor, the experience of a Level 3 pitch is a world away from the lower levels. It’s an engaging movie, expertly scripted and beautifully adapted, ready for them to enjoy the starring role.
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