MR. MAGICIAN INTRODUCES

3 Pitching Exercises From Seasoned Founders,
VCs and Kids

10 MIN READ
Hey guys, a Magician is here. Yep, you've heard me right - I can do some magic when it comes to turning crappy presentations into timeless works of art. You know, the ones, that leave audience in deep awe and absolutely enchanted.

So, your Big Day is approaching, huh? The investor pitching day that is. Or meeting number seventeen, where you'll try to convince a room full of strangers to believe in your business model and product concept. Heads up, the world knows enough not-so-great pitches. And I heard my fair share of those too. The non-magical ones. That shouldn't be your case, however.

"Okay, that's easy to say for you. You are a Magician after all! But what should I do?". Chill. You may not may not be a born presenter or feel terrified of giving public speeches, that should not be your excuse for delivering a lousy presentation. Nope, you can be better than this, I sure know. Get ready to face the enemy in your full glory and oozing confidence. I've got a few actionable pitching exercises to help you deliver your best pitch and bring the magic to the audience.
The 120 Second Investor Pitch Exercise

Recently, I've stumbled on some great quote coming from Andrea Barrica, Venture Partner and Pitch Coach at 500 Startups:
What you need is for the investor to know is that this a great market, and you can do that in 30 seconds.
Simple ideas go viral. Simple ideas carry immense power. Yet, boiling down your complex technology or product idea to a few snappy lines isn't always that simple. However, as Andrea implies: "If you can't explain it to me in a minute, you don't understand it well enough.'" Nope, no pitch magic will happen - I can assure you of that as a certified Magician;). And there's more truth to that – investors spend just 3 minutes and 44 seconds on average on your slide deck even if you were granted the luxury to speak for the whole 10 minutes.

You have less time than you think to impress. Don't waste it on the unnecessary details. Go straight to the point instead. Start refining your startup pitch by writing down the answers to the next three Ws:

What's my big market to disrupt?
You know there are 150,000 seniors in your area living alone. You came up and spoke to Jim – a former high school principal and an energetic widower. His kids live 400 km away and visit him once in a few months. While Jim is pretty active, knows how to use computers and even teaches PC classes for other seniors once a week, he still feels very lonely at times. He wishes there was something to help him connect with other elders in his area and organize more events together.

That's a cute, but long story. Here's a magic advice: shrink it to a few powerful lines.

For instance:
"10,000 calls come to a senior loneliness hotline each week in my town. 150,000 elders live alone in the area. But technology can help them beat isolation. Already, 38% of the surveyed seniors said that they like using Skype and some other apps for communication with their families…."

Why now is the best time to launch?
Instill the FOMO filling within your business pitch. If your idea doesn't take traction right now, someone else will implement it and gain the profits.

When pitching to investors always outline that your target market is ready for the proposed solution and there's no better time to launch it than now.
Here's the continuation of your story:
"…And another 45% said that they'd love to discover a new technology for communication, yet they find most of existing ones too complicated. Their family and local community establishments don't provide this kind of education. Emily, 68, wants to understand how chat apps and Skype works and connect with other gardening fans, but she doesn't know whom to ask. If she were offered a simple solution today, she'd be even ready to pay for it between $2 and $10….".
A memorable startup pitch is an exercise in empathy and storytelling.
Why this idea matters?
Andrea mentions that a lot of founders start with a sales mindset and build their pitches around customer value, acquisition, and their delight. Yet, while those numbers matter as well, everyone has gathered in the room for a good story. A magical story.

Own your story. Be brave enough to push it forward and speak why it matters to you personally and why you are the right person to implement that idea. You can be a magician too and make actual change with your idea.

"….Yet, I don't think we should charge anyone for their desire to learn and make contact with other human beings. Living in isolation and experiencing loneliness leads to earlier death and a variety of health problems as the research proves. For two years in college, I volunteered in a nursing home. I offered my companionship for free to a dozen of people and gathered more stories and unconditional gratitude than during the rest 25 years of my life. I taught eight people to use Skype and Whatsapp and showed them how to connect with their family and message their peers. The product we offer will make even further impact. We'd like to connect more volunteers and active seniors like Jim, the high school principal with people like Emma and other curious elders. We want to create a simplistic digital environment, which makes modern tech look like a simple and exciting place. Five-year-olds can use video conferencing and sixty-five-year-olds can do that too".

To wrap it up, your investor pitch should be like a 120-seconds movie teaser – intriguing, action-packed yet leaving the audience with a desire to learn more about your startup idea.

Psst, you can grab our master guide of pitching exercises for free.

Psst, you can grab our master guide of pitching exercises for free.

Explain Like I'm Five Pitching Exercise

This pitching exercise is geared towards stripping your idea from complexity and unrequired words even further.

Look, if a kid can understand your business concept, that it's clear enough for the end user as well. For starters head to Explain Like I'm Five Sub-Reddit – a magic well of complicated wisdom explained in a simplistic manner. Browse through some threads to get a better idea of the explanations offered. And here are a few more key lessons from Pitch-a-Kid – a Texas-based organization connecting entrepreneurs and…kids to assess their pitches.
With any pitch, the entrepreneur has to find a way to take the audience through the journey so the audience can easily relate to the idea or the problem that is being solved.
— Zuby Onwuta, Founder of Think & Zoom
A story is your most powerful asset to capture the audience attention, lead them on a journey and help them understand your key idea. After all, humans are storytelling animals and this seamlessly non-essential habit has survived and thrived through the years of evolution.

There's undeniable magic weaved into a good story, right?. As Jonathan Gottschall puts it in his book: "Story is the grease and glue of society: by encouraging us to behave well, story reduces social friction while uniting people around common values. Story homogenizes us; it makes us one."
Use Simple Analogies and Metaphors

As a Magician I'm so tired of hearing "My company is the Uber for something". The Magician also doesn't like when people talk in third person about them (but occasionally does that too).

But do you know why this analogy is so popular? An investor, a customer, and a kid can instantly understand what you mean – a disruptor, a revolutionary idea, a better way to offer a good old service. Remember, an investor you'll be pitching may not be an expert in your industry or be familiar with the common jargon. Explaining indeed innovative tech concepts can become challenging in this case. That's exactly where analogies roll in.

For instance, let's talk about recurrent neural networks – artificial neural networks, which use their internal memory to process arbitrary sequences of inputs. Does that sound understandable to you? Do you feel intrigued by the concept? Nope. And neither do I. So, how about this version instead?

"Our technology is powered by recurrent neural networks. Think of them as very smart and small brain cells, which have their own short-term memory. You can train them to remember and recognize various patterns. For instance, to tell apart a dog from a cat after you've shown them 20 different images. The network will remember that cats are usually smaller in size, have different facial features and cuter small ears. And the best part is – this recognition can happen with really precise accuracy and at least 5 times faster than ever before"

The key here is to avoid sounding too patronizing with your explanation. Something neither kids, nor adults or magicians love.
Peer Pitching Exercise
Clarity and memorability are the two key elements of sticky pitches. After all, top VCs listen to at least 50 pitches per week and even more during pitchfests and other dedicated events.

There's a good reason why Michael Harper, founder of Bigcommerce, a $75 million-backed company says that pitching on Mondays is the worst. The majority of VC partners meet up on Monday mornings to discuss the potential deals and decide on investments. If you pitch later in the day, you'll have to wait for a whole week till their decision. Additionally, your idea may get lost and forgotten in the bunch of other business pitches delivered that week.

So, how do you blend in the stickiness into your pitch? I've recently found this great exercise coming from André Knol, Co-founder, and CEO of Innoleaps called "Peer Pitching". Here's how it's done.

Make two teams. You can invite some startup friends over or just split your in-house team into two groups. Now, set the timer for 5-10 minutes and let each team deliver the prepared pitch. Have everyone else listen carefully without taking notes. Next, take a 30-minute break, drinks some coffee and chat about other stuff before returning back to the arena.

Here comes the good part:
Your teams should exchange leaders and the assigned person has 10 minutes to deliver the new pitch for the competitive team without any further consultations. Once the timer buzzes – present your new pitch the best way you can for the opponent.

The particular value of Peer Pitching is that it allows you to understand better, which information sticks and which facts the audience retains. Seeing your story told from another angle also offers you a fresher perspective on your key metrics, general storyline, and the presentation bottlenecks.
When the interim pitcher has only ten minutes to prepare a strong pitch, they tend to use only those parts that resonated with the audience i.e the strong parts. The weaker parts are elated or improved with own experience, better examples or small and subtle adjustments.
André Knol
Innoleaps
To wrap it up:
Clarity. Simplicity. Memorability.

These are the three cornerstones of great investor pitches.
Strip your story of the flair. Eliminate the weak parts and practice, practice, practice before delivering your pitch to the actual audience.

And good luck on your Big Day! Let the magic happen!


Written by Mr. Magician

This fellow may also roll eyes at your content and grumble a bit but will share some really solid advice with you if you just let him speak. He's our Creative Director of the Magical Pitch Department.

Learn More
Written by Mr. Magician

This fellow may also roll eyes at your content and grumble a bit but will share some really solid advice with you if you just let him speak. He's our Creative Director of the Magical Pitch Department.

Learn More

Impress investors and get funded with BaseTemplate's industry-leading pitch deck template

avaliable for PowerPoint, Keynote and Google Slides
The Presenter Newsletter
Our best stories delivered to your inbox once a month.