Hey, haven’t we all stood in front of the mirror at one time or another, playing Dragon’s Den and practicing a pitch for a product we’ve barely even invented yet. For some, however, this is an all too real scenario. Perhaps Peter Jones isn’t exposing his fruity socks, and maybe Deborah Meedan isn’t drilling down on her environmental credentials, but for many budding entrepreneurs, the pitch is a familiar (and frightening) part of the process.
But what happens when you open the floor up the questions? It’s either your chance to shine and show off your knowledge of the numbers or, it’s the riskiest aspect of all. Make it the former, with these; our 5 IDEAL tips on handling questions from investors while pitching.
ALWAYS REMAIN POLITE
Regardless of how you feel at that moment, under pressure and perhaps in defensive mode, you have to stay polite at all times to get your message across succinctly. Your goal is to please investors (and to assuage any concerns they may have) and make them want to invest in you. In the end, regardless of how brilliant your idea is or how investable you are, they have the final say. They’re not only judging the quality of your responses but your character, too. They need to see if you’re someone they would be comfortable working with and showing politeness is a good way to earn their trust early on.
KEEP YOUR COOL
It doesn’t matter if the way the questions get thrown at you seems disrespectful; the directness is simply a way of investors getting the facts, fast. Don’t put too much emphasis on the manner of asking. Instead, keep your cool and trust that you know your idea or product better than anyone. Provide in-depth, analytical responses to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of what you’re talking about. It’s all you can do; so have faith in that notion.
If you do find the palms are getting sweaty, and the numbers are turning into mush before your very eyes, buy yourself some time and ask for clarification. Perhaps you didn’t hear the question well or you misinterpreted it? Or maybe, that particular detail escapes you. Don’t assume that the goal of asking the question is to humiliate you. It very likely isn’t.
Stay professional, take a breath, and earn yourself a moment by asking for the question again. Just as the investors may not understand every facet of your business, so you may not understand every nuance and implication of their questioning. And that’s fine.
PUT THE POETRY TO ONE SIDE
Being verbose and showing off your vocabulary is unlikely to garner favour in the boardroom. Though swallowing a dictionary may impress at a dinner party, it’s cold, hard facts and delicious attention to detail on the numbers that will arouse the investors. As such, make the key aspects of your pitch (ie. how much money is going to be made) clear, concise and obvious. Don’t forget to use slides to put across the £ signs coherently. Use an AV wall mount to keep the device in place and the ideas in play. And with that, good luck!