“I have a photographic memory. I just haven’t deveoped it yet.” – Jonathan Winters

So, we’ve talked about how having FUN and using LINKS contributes the F.L.A.I.R. that motivates investors to care.

What’s next?

A = Alliteration

Say these words.

Best Purchase.

Dirt Vacuum.

Bed, Toliet, Etc.

Kind of clunky, eh?

Now make those words alliterative. (Alliteration is when words start with the same sound.)

Best Buy.

Dirt Devil.

Bed, Bath and Beyond.

More musical and memorable, right?

This is not petty.

Repeatability is crucial to memorability.

And memorability is crucial to you closing a deal.

At the Springboard Enterpises BootCamp in Boston at the Microsoft NERD Center on June 17; each of the 21 entrepreneurs (selected from more than 100 applicants) started with a 2 minute bio presentation.

Their assignment?

Tell us, in 2 minutes, about your credentials and proven track record so we are intrigued, impressed and convinced you have the clout to carry this off.

Here’s what I told the group at the end of their bio presentations – which took about an hour total.

“Okay, I’m giving you each $10 million. You just heard 21 entrepreneurs introduce their business credentials. Who would you invest in?

Look around the room. WHO DO YOU REMEMBER?

Do you remember ANY of the names of the presenters or businesses? What do you remember that so impresseed you, you’re motivated to walk up to that person and initiate a follow-up conversation?”

It was a sobering moment. Because these entrepreneurs realized that most of what they just heard had gone in one ear and out the other.

They realized that unless they did something special with THEIR pitch, the business they’d invested their head, heart, soul and bank account in . . . may go in one ear and out the other of future investors who have heard thousands of pitches.

Think about it. These were 2 minute pitches.

Many pitch forums feature 20 – 30 ten minute pitch presentations, back to back.

Imagine sitting through 8 hours of pitches.

At the end of a l-o-n-g day, pitches start to blend together. They start to sound alike and it’s hard to remember who was who.

That means, unless you do something special to stand out, you’ll be out of sight, out of mind.

That’s why it’s essential to give your audience a hook on which to hang a memory.

If you care about your idea or business, it’s YOUR responsibility to pitch it so crisply and compellingly, YOU’RE THE ONE they remember . . . YOU’RE the one they respect . . . YOU’RE the one they want to talk to at the end of the day.

Alliteration helps.

Look at your pitch, product description, web copy and business name. Are you using alliteration, i.e., Rolls Royce. Dunkin Donuts. Java Jacket. Merlin Mobility? (Kudos to Springboard presenter Margaret Martin for coming up with that magically alliterative name.)

If so, good for you.

If not, go back and insert words into sentences that start with the same sound. It will make your language more lyrical and help you stand out so YOU’RE the entrepreneur who’s top of mind at the end of a long day of pitches.

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“I never metaphor I didn’t like.” – Richard Lederer, NPR’s A Way with Words

In the previous blog, we talked about the importance of having FUN while pitching.

If you’re not having fun; trust me; your audience isn’t having fun.

Now for the second letter in F.L.A.I.R. that helps investors care.

L = LINK

“The quickest way to help decision-makers connect with what your business does is to compare it to something they already know and respect.” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert, pitch strategist and author of POP!

Jan Bruce of New Life Solution is already a successful entrepreneur having developed meQuilibrim (talk about a business name that POP!s).

She has a compelling “backstory.” After selling a business to Martha Stewart for millions, for some reason, Jan didn’t feel as happy as hoped.

In fact, as she told our group, she wondered, “Why am I feeling so bad when I am doing so well?”

This prompted a quest to figure out what was going on.

Jan’s research revealed that “stress is the new ‘obesity.'”

It’s reached epidemic proportions and is costing companies billions and compromising people’s health.

She’s developed an “online, guided, self-help progam providing interactive education, behavior tools and peer support on a scalable basis.”

HUH?

See, that’s the problem.

That sentence describes what her business does – but we still don’t get it. And if we don’t get it, SHE won’t get it.

That’s where LINKING comes in.

Comparison provides a shortcut to comprehension.

A metaphor or analogy that links your unfamiliar business to something with which we’re familiar (and fond) fast-forwards our understanding.

Jan knows this and excels at it.

What’s her elevator intro for her business?

“New Life Solution is like Weight Watchers for stress.”

OOOHHHH. Got it.

Are you pitching an idea or venture?

What is it LIKE? Link your new idea or venture to a proven entity your decision-makers respect to turn confusion into clarity.

Believe me, an intrigued “ooohhh” is a lot better than a confused “huh?”

Want to know what the A in F.L.A.I.R. stands for? Keep reading.

“If you want investors and audiences to care; show F.L.A.I.R.” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert, pitch strategist and author of POP!

What a pleasure it was coaching Springboard Enterprise entrepreneurs yesterday in Boston at Microsoft’s NERD location overlooking the waterfront.

Springboard has helped entrepreneurs such as Robin Chase of Zipcar and Gail Goodman of Constant Contact receive more than $5 B in funding.

As their official Pitch Coach, my role is to help them prepare 10 minute pitches that intrigue and favorably impress potential financial partners.

I don’t waste their valuable time talking about how many words to put on their power point slides. That informaiton can be found in many other books or programs.

As The Intrigue Expert and Pitch Strategist, my specialty is showing clients how to pleasantly surprise jaded investors with approaches they haven’t heard before – approaches that quickly, compellingly communicate a convincing competitive edge and commercial viability that get eyebrows up and smartphones down.

In the next few blogs, I’ll be sharing some of the tips that had participants saying, “You’re a hero. I can finally describe my company in 60 seconds so investors get it and want it.”

First, let me keep my promise to participants to finish sharing what F.L.A.I.R. stands for.

F = FUN!

“Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all.” – Woody Allen

Sound familiar? Many entrepreneurs are so tight and tense during their pitch; it’s almost painful to watch.

The thing is, “likability” plays a role in whether you land funding.

Some investors have so much money; it’s no longer strictly about the money.

There’s thousands of start-ups that could potentially make them money. The question is, “Would I like to work with this person for the next few years?”

Frankly, fun is a sign of confidence. Not only do you command more atention when you’re having fun, it shows you’re comfortable in your own skin and can wield authority confidently.

The ability to relax, perform optimally and enjoy yourself in front of a group of decision-makers is a sign you won’t panic under pressure or “choke” as the leader of a multi-million dollar company.

So, yes, even though asking for 6 or 7 figures is “serious business;” don’t make it SO serious you lack personality or passion.

Check out the next blog to find out what the “L” stands for in F.L.A.I.R.

Many clients have asked me to post my Top Ten Tips for Delivering a Winning Pitch article online so they can share it with their colleagues and take it viral.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Top Ten Tips for Delivering a Winning Pitch – by Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert and inventor of The POP Process

You’ve invested months or years into developing your business.

Now, you have minutes to intrigue and impress potential investors.

The following tips can help you command the attention, respect and interest of decision-makers so they’re motivated to request a follow-up meeting.

1. Speak Loud and Clear So People in the Back Row Can Repeat Every Word:

Whether it’s fair or not, decision-makers determine your “clout” – your perceived ability to get things done on a grand scale – by the volume of your voice. People who speak softly aren’t perceived as powerful.

You don’t want to force people to have to say, “I can’t hear you.” That means they’re already frustrated with you. Project and e-nun-ci-ate so everyone in the room can repeat what you just said. Why is that important? If they can’t repeat it; they didn’t get it. And if they didn’t get it; you won’t get it.

2. Use Your Voice Like a Musical Instrument:

Use a warm, lower register voice to resonate with listeners. No iced drinks beforehand. They freeze your vocal chords & make you sound nasal. A high-pitched, “little girl” voice causes investors to doubt your ability to carry off a multi-million dollar venture. Ending with upward inflection makes you seem unsure – as if you’re asking for approval. Follow the example of broadcasters and end sentences with downward inflection so you’re exuding a voice of authority and will be considered an authority.

3. Speak to People’s Eyes to Engage Everyone in the Room.

The audience is not your enemy. Your goal is to connect with every single person in the room. Instead of having an unfocused gaze where you’re not really looking at anyone; mentally extend yourself to each individual by momentarily looking into their eyes so they feel you’re talking just to them.

You can do this even if there are hundreds of people in a ballroom by “quartering” the room and being sure to make eye contact with people in each corner of the room instead of sweeping the room with a robotic-like UZI approach or looking over everyone’s head with an empty gaze.

4. Pause and Punch:

Nervous speakers rush. Confident speakers deliberately pause before . . . and after . . . their most important points. Punching your most impressive points gives them an audio emphasis that helps them POP! out of everything that’s being said. Putting space around a particularly impressive credential or achievement (i.e., “sold to Microsoft,” “managed a 30 million dollar department,” “MBA from Harvard”) highlights it and gives listeners a chance to absorb and imprint it so they can remember it.

Jonathan Winters said, “I have a photographic memory; I just haven’t developed it yet.” People don’t have a photographic memory so it’s up to you to develop an easy-to-grasp pitch they like, want to listen to and can remember.

5. Eliminate Adversarial Words or Industry Jargon:

Review your slides and comments and remove the words “but,” “should,” “you’ll have to.” These words can make people feel ordered around, argued with or lectured to. Also, be sure to explain acronyms, industry jargon or technical terminology listeners may not be familiar with.

6. Tower, don’t Cower:

Your body posture says a lot about your confidence. Stand up right now and let your shoulders fall forward; put your feet close together and assume the “fig leaf” position. This “cower” stance makes you look and feel tentative and weak.

Now, pull your shoulders back, place your feet shoulder width apart and stand tall. This “tower” stance makes you feel and look more grounded and authoritative. People will conclude you know what you’re talking about and are a lot more likely to give you their respect because you look like a leader.

7. Command Attention and Respect From the Beginning:

Stride (don’t walk meekly . . . . stride confidently) to the center of the room and face the group so you are “open” to them. Pause for a moment and scan the entire room with a warm smile. Some self-conscious speakers start talking before they are “centered” and they never own the room. Some lock themselves behind the lectern to have a “barrier” between them and the group. Make a powerful, positive first impression by facing the group “head on” and by not starting until you have everyone’s attention.

If there are people behind you on a panel, stand to one side of the table so you don’t have your back to the panelists throughout the presentation. Keep your body facing the audience so you’re addressing and honoring the majority of the people in the room – and turn your head (not your whole body) to the panel occasionally to keep them enaged.

I’ll always remember a speaker who spent his entire 10 minutes talking directly to the panel (not even glancing at the rest of the room) because he thought the panelists were the judges. The judges were actually in the back of the room and they disconnected after 10 minutes of being ignored.

8. Move Strategically to Punctuate Your Points:

You don’t want to be rooted to one spot and you don’t want to pace. Repeated, non-purposeful motion is distracting. Determine in advance how you can move from “stage center” to “stage right” to get closer to that part of the audience and then to “stage left” to focus on that section of the audience.

Instead of gripping the lectern with both hands (which comes across as rigid or a desperate need to “hold onto something”) or clasping your hands together behind you or in front of you which lock you in to one stance – hold your hands like you’re holding a basketball so you can gesture freely and naturally.

9. Speak from Talking Points vs. Memorizing Your Speech:

Memorizing a speech or reading from a script disconnects you from the audience because you’re “in your head” repeating words you’re rehearsed. The audience might as well not even be there. The goal is to connect and communicate so compellingly, everyone is listening to and “getting” everything you say.

Instead of keeping notes in your hands, place them on the lectern so you can glance at them (or the tele-prompter or on-stage monitor) to remind yourself of key points without breaking your connection with the audience. Don’t talk to your slides – talk to your audience. Turn your back on the screen and keep your attention on the group so they’re keeping their attention on you.

10. Show and Tell with Props:

At the end of a long day, pitches start blending together and sounding alike. Visually reinforce your product by bringing a sample to the stage. Holding up an iPad or an iPhone while you talk about an app you’ve created helps us SEE what you’re SAYING. It makes your concept concrete and turns your idea into an image.

One client who created a software program that organized receipts/expenses brought her wallet to the stage and pulled out a dozen receipts from taxis, restaurants, hotels she’d collected in her trip to the NYC pitch forum. She then asked audience members if they had receipts scattered throughout their luggage they were probably going to lose, never report or never collect on. Everyone related to her message, remembered what she was offering, respected its market potential and wanted to talk with her afterwards. Compare that to a talk where she spoke solely about a “receipt aggregation system.”
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Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, helps clients create clearn, compelling communications that win buy-in from target customers. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything which has been endorsed by Jeffrey Gitomer and featured in NY Times, Washington Post, MSNBC and BusinessWeek.com.

Did you find these tipson delivering a winning pitch useful? You’re welcome to forward them to others and share the wealth as long as you attribute them.

Want Sam Horn’s article on Top Ten Tips to Designing a Winning Pitch ?

(And yes, her article covers what to put on your power point slides).

Email us at Cheri@SamHorn.com and we’ll send it to you. And visit http://www.SamHorn.com for video clips on how to capture people’s favorable attention in the first 60 seconds by getting their eyebrows up.