The importance of personal branding when pitching

April 01, 2013


Inge Geerdens

Thought Leader, Founder/CEO CVWarehouse, Advisor at Econopolis NV, Bryo Ambassador

From time to time, I teach people with a start-up idea on how to prepare their pitch for the jury. I love this kind of sessions : each of the participants pitches his or her idea to the rest of the class. The interactivity works really well. They applaud each others’ “performance”, but they’re also quite critical. They all make mistakes, but they learn from each other.

In front of the jury as in reality, the bottom line is that you only get one shot. Your partners, investors and prospects have to be convinced that your idea will solve their problems. I believe a good presentation is the key to success, so here are some guidelines I give in my sessions:

#1. Tell your audience who you are. A lot of people forget the very basics, their name, where they come from, etc. Your audience wants to know who the person behind the pretty face is.

#2. Tell a story. If you had a job before in which you solved problems with your idea, your background will be highly relevant. A nice story about it will prove your expertise.

#3. Highlight the solution behind your idea. Many people are so in love with their idea that they get very technical, and lose their audience with an explanation that nobody understands. Explain your solution and the problem it helps to solve. This really helps in convincing a skeptical jury.

#4.Play the trust card. What have you reached so far? Are there any pilot projects worth mentioning? Do you have a mentor in the industry that is helping you? Does a university support your idea? Or are you in the finals of an entrepreneurship contest? Show your audience that you already gained some trust in your market.

#5.Demonstrate your added value. Criticizing your competitors is not done. But telling your audience why you are much better is, and it will have more impact.

#6. Be specific. In which phase is your idea or company now? Do you already have some customers? Or are you still in a development phase?

#7.Target the right audience. Make sure the people you address represent the right audience. Nobody likes wasting time. Be specific in what you are looking for; adapt your message and questions to the audience.

In a nutshell: I believe pitching your start-up idea is as important as pitching your entrepreneurial spirit, and even yourself. You and your idea won’t be seen as two separate things. That’s why your self-branding is primordial. You have to make them believe in you.

My list of tips is far from being complete. Any ideas you want to share on how to convince a jury?

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