As a small business development counselor, I was recently invited to be a “Shark Tank” judge at a local pitch competition. The participants were young girls, ages 8-14 in the Camp She-EO program located in Falls Church, VA. She-EO, LLC exists to “empower the CEO in every girl,” through entrepreneurially-minded camps, coaching sessions and after school programs.
Here’s what we all can learn from these ambitious young ladies on how to prepare for a pitch competition:
1 | Practice, Practice, Practice
If you are presenting before a panel of potential investors, you need to know your material well. Practicing your pitch out loud in front of your family, friends or advisors will help you get a better handle on your pace, wording, body language, etc. They will be able to tell you which information is needed and which is frivolous for the matter at hand
2 | Use Notes
There is nothing wrong with having bulleted points to assist you with your pitch. It’s always a wise idea to have a security blanket to fall back on, just in case you get nervous or clammy. If you are pitching with a PowerPoint accompaniment or the like, then make sure you aren’t reading directly from the slides. Know the material well enough to only glimpse at the notes if need be.
3 | Make Eye Contact
These investors or VCs are going to literally be invested in your business. You might as well make a good first impression. Smiling and making eye contact with them will build trust and help them see your passion behind your venture. Again, building off the last point, you want to establish that you are confident in your ideas and can talk about them in a clear, concise way without being awkward.
4 | Know Your Numbers
If you’re asking for money, know exactly what you need it for. Talk to them about the current financial state of the business. How are sales going? What are your profit margins? What is your projected growth rate in the next 6 months? Be prepared to articulate these numbers without hesitation.
5 | Be Yourself
Finally, be yourself! Out of all the participants in the room competing for the prize, no one has your exact idea. No one has your story. Use this to your advantage. Most likely, you are creating a business that speaks to you personally and has a unique meaning to something you’ve experienced. Use this to paint the picture of why your product or service is needed in the market. Show the connection between every single part of your business plan and your intended growth.
With these 5 steps, you can have the extra boost of confidence needed to face the sharks!