Some great demo day pitch tips

In March 2010 at Demo Conference I won a Demo God award for my Zosh pitch. I wrote an article about the experience which included many insights into my success.

Pitching your company on stage in front of investors, press and your peers is no easy task and I'm one to know, I've done it. Even the best public speakers fall apart under the increased pressure of the do or die situation: make your company look good and receive investment capital, make your company look bad and look for another job.

I’ve been in this situation on many ocassions and with the help of other experienced speakers put together this list of tips that I’ve used to deliver a solid pitch. I used these tips to win a pitch competition which led directly to the acquisition of my company.

Think of a good pitch like a carefully choreographed scene from a Broadway play. You'll have a story, props, a script and will have memorized and practiced it many times. And with that here are my tips for creating a successful pitch:

  • There is no such thing as winging it. Even a 60 second pitch requires a ton of preparation.
  • Your pitch should be framed in a story. This is key for a number of reasons. First, it keeps your audience interested in your demo, second it provides you structure and most importantly, when you forget your train of thought, you can easily navigate back.
  • Memorize. I can’t stress this enough, you need to memorize every line and every action in your pitch. There is no ad-lib in a good pitch, you will need to know not only all the words, but the body language, correct gestures and how to use your props.
  • Simplify technical demonstrations and eliminate points of failure. You should try to control all aspects of your demo, never rely on unknown parameters like assuming that you'll be able to get a GPS signal indoors.
  • Practice in front of friends and family. You need to put yourself in a situation to fail as many times as possible before demo day. This will help you become much more comfortable with the material and allow you to make your mistakes in a safe setting. Surprisingly this is a lot harder than it sounds and a lot more important than you might think.
  • Create filler material that you can use in case of a delay or a technical problem. There is nothing worse than uncomfortable silence. I like to have a joke or two handy as well.
  • Put good fuel in your body. For the week up to your pitch make sure to eat right and drink a lot of water. You don’t want your body to fail you while you are giving the pitch of your life.

Follow these tips and you’ll deliver a great pitch.