GEW and the Art of Pitching

‘Shy’ and ‘entrepreneur’ aren’t typically two words that go together — and for good reason. Attending events at Global Entrepreneur Week will no doubt inspire, but if you don’t make the effort to participate, you’re definitely not getting the most out of the experience. Pitching, networking, and being confident in communicating your ambition are essential assets for any would-be business star: and GEW 2015 is the perfect place to gain some practice.

The Opportunity

First, let’s talk about GEW. GEW began life in the UK in 2004 as Enterprise Week. Designed to actively promote, develop and inspire entrepreneurship and innovation, today GEW is linked to a global campaign coordinated by the Kauffman Foundation. It sees over 140 countries organizing similar events simultaneously for the week of November 17th to 23rd. From Bahrain to Brazil, would-be entrepreneurs get the opportunity to enter competitions, listen to industry leaders, network with fellow self-starters, and attend webinars, workshops and mentoring sessions.

The UK GEW is no different. In fact, the 2013 edition, which was hosted by Youth Business International and featured 600 partner organisations, 6000 events and 300,000 people, was awarded Country of the Year. 2014 looks set to be even bigger and better. The event will be jam-packed with opportunities to network. You’ll also be able to mingle with funders, potential clients, mentors and fellow entrepreneurs. Getting your pitch right now is essential. Pitching is a time-honoured tradition. Self-starters should focus on the three Ps: preparation, practice and passion.

Preparation

Before attending GEW research is vital. Events are organized across the country and the search function on the website lets you search by region, audience, activity type and date.  Search for activities and people relevant to you. Use LinkedIn and other platforms to check past experience of speakers and take notes. Relating to people on a personal level or knowing something extra about their career can differentiate you from the thousands of others they will likely meet in a day. Don’t underestimate the power of personal connections in business.

Simultaneous to your research you should be preparing your pitch. Keep things focused and make sure your pitch works like a story.

  • First, create a hook, think Twitter-friendly – short, concise, informative.
  • Second support the hook with three key advantages.
  • Finally add evidence through statistics, stories or examples. The pitch should be memorable and positive.
  • If you have a more formal meeting with the chance to use PowerPoint limit the slide count to six maximum – don’t overload your listener with complex information and scenarios.

Remember also that you are selling yourself as much as your idea, so prepare what you will wear. Consider what that outfit says about you as first impressions are lasting impressions.

Practice

Practice makes perfect is that old adage we hear from our parents since youth.  But there is truth in it and practising your patter with family and friends will give you more confidence when it comes to the real thing.

  • Ask your practice audience to be hyper-critical and to pick through the cracks.
  • Know your figures, prepare for difficult questions and expect to be cut off halfway.
  • Have a long and a short version of your pitch in mind and analyze the key information to have an emergency one-liner ready.
  • During your pitch, if they ask you a question that you are unsure of, don’t blag your way through. Explain you will follow up through email. Set up an email account in the name of the potential business idea or along the lines of your idea so that you can follow up quickly and efficiently.

Passion

Investors want to see someone who cares, they want to recognize a person with the passion and determination to push the idea forward and to create a business.  You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will. Perhaps this is the hardest of the three Ps to capture but try to trust yourself and your idea and really give it a shot.

 

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