Before reading please do the following.

1. Stand up.

2. Place your right index finger on your throat.


4. Be sure to hold the last note to the end.

5. Now repeat until you feel a sense of relief.

Hopefully you would have completed the previous activity in the comfort of your own home and in the privacy of your bedroom. If not, you my friend, are probably getting stares from those around you who will definitely be questioning your sanity.

Now that you’ve found your pitching tone, you are ready to make your first business pitch. Well maybe not yet, but you will be by the end of this article.

Recently I took part in the 2018 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative hosted by the US State Department and spearheaded by Meridian International, with help from US Embassies from Latin America and the Caribbean. The program brought 250 young entrepreneurs from the region to the United States for what I call “A million dollar social media campaign,” that sought to spread US culture and connect entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean.

As part of this fellowship we were exposed to a number of training sessions, modules, exercises and activities: one being pitch training.

If you’ve made a pitch before raise your hand…

I see you over there in the PJ’s.

For a veteran talker (some days I get paid to talk), I thought this was going to be a walk in the park… I couldn’t have been more wrong. Formulating a pitch that covers all aspects of your business is easy, or so I thought. Of course I can create a monologue that hits the operational highlights of my business. Everyone can do that! But can you verbalize it in 90 seconds to a room full of investors?

Say what now * – *?

Luckily for us we had a coach to walk us through the elements of an effective pitch. Dr. Ron Duggard guided our group through the steps of creating a movie trailer for our business.


Movie Trailer Points

If you’ve seen a movie trailer before you know it was meant to get you interested enough in the movie to go see it in the cinemas or buy it on DVD. Ron highlighted some pointers for your movie trailer as it relates to your business:

• Connect to the audience with emotion

• Don’t give too much information

• Give verbal and visual hooks

• Invest in your presentation so they will want to invest in your product/service


Chararacteristics of A Winning Pitch

Like your stellar character as a business person, there are also characteristics of a winning business pitch.

• Compelling Clarity

• Suitable Story

• Brilliant Brevity

You may think, “This sounds simple enough”. But wait, there’s more. For your pitch to be winning, there are a few more elements you need to nail.

A Few More Elements

1. Audience Advocacy – your audience must be brought into focus with your objectives. Seek to learn your idea, story, product through your audience’s point of view. Ron advises to move from living your business story to telling your business story.

2. Great Opening – NAIL THE FIRST SENTENCE! Get the audience’s attention| Create a “WOW” statement.

3. Provide a mental hook using any of the following

a. Story – people remember great stories

b. Metaphor – something that is not literal but applicable. “We are data security ninjas”

c. Analogy – similarities between like features of two things based on a comparison. E.g. water pump and heart

d. Examples – impactful but not always memorable

e. Simile – the app is like a best friend

f. Use a limited amount of numbers – 1 in 4 adults are obese

4. In addition to all of the above, of utmost importance is the fact that Pain/Problem Statement MUST BE CLEAR

a. What is the problem and why is it a big deal


c. Take your time focusing on this section

5. Your Solution/Value MUST BE CLEAR

a. What is the value to the customer?

b. How is your solution compelling? – think customer viewpoint

6. Who are your target customers and what are the market segments?

7. Competition- every idea/product/service/ business has one or two or three or even four – note to self, NEVER say you don’t have competition.

8. How is your company different? – go ahead and answer… I’ll wait.

9. Market Strategy- How will you reach your target customers? What channels will you use? Disney is not an answer…

10. “I” does not exist in Team – who’s on your team? How do you know this is the right team?

11. Finances – what is the purpose of the pitch? Will you be asking for investors or recruiting customers?

12. Call to ACTION!!!- BE clear on your call to action. Paint a concise picture of the end result of the successful action you’ve called for.

13. Project a great self-image. You are your brand. See

WOW, that was a lot. Take deep breath. Drink a glass of water. And then let’s stretch those vocals one last time.


Now that we’re all warmed up for the second round of singing…

Common Mistakes People Make When Pitching

Let’s look at some common mistakes people make when making their business pitch. Professor Duggins pointed out quite a few:

1. “Curse of Knowledge”. You may be a computer science major but your audience is not. Use simple words and not “tech jargon” unless of course you’re making a pitch to a room full of Silicon Valley execs.

2. A weak opening.

3. Being forgettable – monotone and unenthusiastic.

4. Slide Abuse – too many slides with too many words. Simplicity is key.

5. Lackluster language: “Ummm” “Ahmmm” “I think” “we aren’t registered”.

My last bit of advise is, be sure to practice your pitch with confidence. A good judge will see through your nerves and fluff and be able to tell how confident you are with your pitch.

In case you’re wondering how practical this information is, consider the following:

This was one of many pitch training exercises that I participated in as part of the 2018 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative. I along with other fellows from my city hub used this information to make a 90 second video entry for the programs pitch competition. 36 of 240 made it to the second round. My pitch made it into the 36. The winning pitcher Johanan Dujon, along with myself took part in the same pitch training sessions. He made it to the top 7 and ultimately won.

The proof they say is in the pudding.

So let’s warm up those vocals and get to pitching.

Let’s Move The World 🌎