3 Pitch Breakfast Takeaways

Each month, Charlotte entrepreneurs pitch their startup companies to local investors in front of an audience during Pitch Breakfast.  If you took Shark Tank, eliminated the TV drama and focused on educating rather than entertaining, you basically have Pitch Breakfast. As an audience member, there are lessons taught every month that apply to any presentation or communication. Here are three that I learned at May's Pitch Breakfast:

1. Manage your time: What does it say to an audience when the alarm signals that your time has expired, but you are still talking?  Either, you were inadequately prepared or you do not respect the audience's time. If you are trying to get an hour meeting, will an investor trust your ability to use that hour effectively if you did not effectively manage your five minutes?  Further, when you fail to include talking points because time expired, you have allowed the clock to decide what part of your presentation is edited out, rather than making that decision yourself.

2. Focus on what's important to the audience: At least two of this month's pitches devoted time to the personal reasons why the founder has passion for their idea.  First, if passion is shown it need not be told. More importantly, if the reason for you passion does not directly speak to the interest of your audience, it does not earn time in your short pitch. When preparing your pitch, begin with the perspective of "what does my audience want to know?" rather than "what do I want to tell my audience?"

3. Remember your goal: Whether you are trying to sign a new customer or close a series A funding round, you probably cannot close the deal in five minutes. Think of your five minute pitch as a movie trailer: you are not trying to tell the whole story; you want the audience excited to see more.  Even within your five minute talk, the goal of the first minute is to get the audience eager to hear the next four minutes.  You cannot answer every question in five minutes, but you can build the curiosity with your audience so they want to invest the time to find the answers. 

When you effectively manage your time, speak to your audiences interests and remember your goal, your presentation will be sharper.  When the time comes to answer questions, your audience will be curious not confused.  

If you attended this month's Pitch Breakfast, what were your takeaways? 

Peyton Manning and the Continued Power of the Handwritten Note

Gatorade released a commercial paying tribute to Peyton Manning, and it is a powerful reminder of the impact of a hand-written note.  Over the course of his career, Manning wrote thank yous, encouragements and condolences to friends, colleagues, rivals and strangers.  

Those people remembered the kindness.

In the age of the personal brand, we all want to be remembered.  We want people to have a positive feeling when they think of us.  There is no greater way to make an impact on a person than to show them that they are important to you.  Taking the time to write a note, find a stamp, walk to the mailbox... in today's iHurry world, these simple, time-taking tasks say, "You are important."

Gatorade honored Manning by focusing on the words that he wrote to others. When you retire, will the same commercial be made about you?