Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Making A Fast Pitch

It always takes longer to write less. I already had a pitch for a 10-minute talk, but the first pitch in the NWEN First Look Forum is a 3-minute pitch. And, I only get to do the 10-minute pitch if I'm in the top five, so the 3-minute pitch is actually more important.

The 3-minute pitch deck is limited to five slides which, unless you're the fast talker from those old FedEx commercials, is about the most you can do anyway. So, I took my five key slides, basically the five slides on the topics they recommended we cover, and then I crammed some extra points into them to make sure I covered everything. Then, I did a practice pitch to my NWEN coaches. Ignoring the fact that my 3-minute pitch took me more than 4 minutes to deliver, it was a totally flat pitch. Even I wasn't interested in hearing more. What went wrong?

Well, in trying to cram as much as possible into the time available, I took out the soul. I took out the excitement that I had worked hard to get into the longer pitch. And I crammed in way too much detail. The 3-minute pitch, like the 30-second elevator pitch and the one pager I discussed earlier, should be all about excitement. You don't need tons of detail in the 10-minute pitch and you need even less when you go shorter. Remember, the point of a short pitch is not to get investors -- the whole point, the only point is to get people to want to hear more. So, I scrapped everything and re-created the deck from the top down -- about customer pain, the excitement of addressing the need, and what the solution looks like. In one case, I had a slide with eight long bullet points. The new slide is just a diagram, which I've also added (in a smaller size) to the longer pitch deck.

I don't know if a picture is worth a thousand words in a pitch deck, but sometimes it can be worth eight bullet points.


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