The Art of the Pitch

The Art of the Pitch

In the business world a formal pitch is quite typically a 10-12 minute performance.

An example of the requirements for companies participating in the 2009 Vancouver Angel Forum is outlined on its web site:

In this forum, companies will present a 10-minute pitch with 4 minutes of questions from potential investors.

The actual timing may vary in different public and private arenas, but your instructors consider that the discipline of a 12-minute do-or-die-trying performance is a valuable starting point for any venture in any field. Twelve short minutes may seem inadequate for you to explain all the wonderful dimensions of your venture, but consider it from an EVA’s perspective: there are thousands of people with new ideas every day and very few of them have any merit – if someone really can’t distil the potential merit into a convincing 12-minute story then they probably also won’t be able to extract that merit in a real venture, no matter how much time and money they’re given. Case closed. Venture dead.

The extraordinary human phenomenon within the 12-minute pitch is that it really is just a good story. The numbers and the facts have to be exactly right, but the most fundamental measure is the passion, persuasiveness and personality of the presenter. The EVA is doing what we all do when we listen to any story: comparing what she hears with what she already knows to assess the credibility in the details, and judging the apparent success-enabling characteristics of the person against all of the other people she has encountered. That’s why all of you can be EVAs. It’s simply a matter of being a very good listener with extremely well-tuned sensitivity to potential failure factors. If a venture survives the 12 minutes with the EVA then considerably more due diligence typically happens before sponsorship occurs; but this first step toward success is crucial.

A nice resource on pitching ideas can be found here:

Elsbach, K.D. (2003). How to pitch a brilliant idea. Harvard Business Review. September 2003

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