If your idea is good and you have a sound business plan, then it’s important to recognize that lack of clarity or the inability to convey trustworthiness are two of the main obstacles to getting investors to give.
There are essentially five important elements to communicating your idea clearly in a pitch.
1. Big Picture: Explain what it is that you are trying to do in one sentence.
“Make money, show that specific technology can work, prove your father wrong,” are not good reasons for people to invest. Everyone knows that you want to make money, but articulate the idea clearly enough for them to understand why it will make money. They want to hear your passion and the big picture (i.e. change how we buy tickets, revolutionize how we gift, eliminate complicated communication).
2. Frame the Story: Put the pitch in a context that anyone can understand.
What is it like? Be concrete. Is there a metaphor that describes what it does? Is there anything analogous to it already out there? This will help investors to grasp the scope and maybe begin to see your vision in their heads.
3. Simple Slides: Slides are there to support your points, not be the point.
The hardest thing you will have to do is to peel away the useless information to get to the heart of your idea. The slides help people to understand the big picture and the context of the story. They provide facts and help to convey the image. But they are not a substitute for you. You can have backup slides if you think there will be deeper questions, but the goal is to get the story out there as clearly as possible.
4. Calm and Confident Presence: Authenticity = Trustworthiness
Understand the messages your body language tells when you are nervous and learn how to calm and still yourself. Recognize that any neediness that you bring to the presentation will negatively affect how clearly they receive you. Be an authentic human being and treat them like authentic human beings and you will be heard and respected for what you have to say.
5. Answering Questions: Practice answering the tough ones and have topline responses.
The biggest problem that entrepreneurs have in answering questions is in distilling their answer for the listener. If it takes you more than 30 seconds to answer a question, then it is probably too long. Practice, practice, practice giving short, simple answers and then waiting for follow up questions. Avoid throwing extra information out there that they might not need and that might confuse them (and make them doubt). Remember, these are smart people who are looking for ways to invest their money. If they have to work to understand you, then they might assume that you don’t have anything there worth understanding.