A Pitching Masterclass

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing my take on presentations to a fantastic and highly engaged audience at the inaugural Chasing Ed conference. With just 30 minutes and a range of startups at different stages, I kept it simple. To be fair, I would do the same for a smaller group and longer period, or any other situation. My methodology is one that is based on good storytelling, authenticity, and a desire to help the audience learn a better way of presenting. One that does not involve complex theories, or cluttered slides.

Having read philosophy at King’s College London, one of my key learnings was the more complex an idea, the greater the need for clear, simple explanations; not lots of text or hundreds of images. Having pitched business ideas, complex deals, and far more to a wide range of people, the minimalist’s philosophy can be applied to all types of presentations and pitches, no matter the desired outcome.

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As such, this was my first of four key points in the session:

No matter who you are talking to, no one wants their time wasted, or to feel like an idiot. If you hit your audience with complex ideas without context, or no sense of what you actually do, they’ll be lost, bored, or have already passed on both you and your idea. Always be on point.

Moving on, the second point was to communicate effectively. Everyone has their own ideas on what this means, but we all agree it means communication is more than just words. So why do we sit in meetings talking and talking with few variations in tone, and fewer body movements? A huge number of pitches and key meetings are done in the board room and we regularly seem to forget how to communicate effectively. As for conversations which are more impromptu, many of us remain motionless, transfixed as we reel off a pitch we at some point learned. Which leads me onto my third point. Every single pitch needs to be refined. By this I mean embrace your inner entrepreneur – try something new, fail, alter it, try again, get feedback, practice practice practice. The best pitches constantly evolve and sound fresh. Refined is not the same as slick.

Now, to one of my favourite quotes:

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So how do you get your audience to feel? Honestly, the number one aspect of this, beyond anything else, which doesn’t get taught in schools, is authenticity. You are not the next Steve Jobs, but you can be exceptional in your own right. You and your audience will never think this if you try and be anything that you are not. To establish who you are when pitching, you need to go through points one to three over and over, experimenting with new techniques; better gesticulation, tonal shifts, pauses, are you a walker, or do you take root in the middle of the stage?

There is no best way of presenting than your own way.

Mark Corbett
Co-founder of Pace Ventures & The Vault London. Big on innovation, startups, yoga & trying new things. KCL & Enactus Alumnus. Gooner.
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