During the opening of your pitch you should only have one goal in mind: Get the attention of your listener. Research shows that the first few seconds of a pitch will determine whether somebody will pay attention to the rest of it.
There are a few ways to get the attention of your listener:
- Start your pitch with a personal story
Starting your pitch with a short personal story helps you build a relationship with your listener in under a minute. A personal story helps the listener to get to know you better. At the same time the listener feels sympathy for you because you opened up and put yourself in a vulnerable position. Make your to keep your personal story short, as you don’t want to bore your listener. An example:
‘During my studies I participated in a lot of start-up competitions. I probably saw over 200 pitches. I have to confess something; of those 200 pitches I can only remember 2. Almost all of them lost me within the first 5 seconds of their pitch’.
After you did your personal story follow up with an explanation in one or two sentences.
- Start your pitch with a question for the listener
This one works especially well with large audiences as it forces everybody to listen and put their phones away. A question stimulates your audience to actively participate in your pitch. Very important: this question should always be a yes or no question, as you don’t want to start a conversation with your audience at that moment. A few examples:
‘Raise your hand if you think my pitch will be awesome’
‘Raise your hand if you have ever been terrified to present in front of a large audience’
An extra benefit of questions like this is that it’s a good opportunity to make your audience laugh. If you decide to start your pitch with a question you should keep a few things in mind:
- Raise your own hand when you say the words ‘raise your hand’. This way the audience directly understands what is expected of him.
- After your asked the question and the audience replied with their hands, continue your pitch with a small increase in volume. This way you make sure to ‘kill’ all the conversation which might occurred during your question.
- Start your pitch with a bold statement
This is my personal favourite. Starting off your pitch with a bold statement usually has a big impact on the listener. A good bold statement has a small shocking effect to the listener, which will ‘wake him up’ and have him listen to you for the rest of your pitch. A few examples of bold statements:
- ‘95% of the pitches suck’
‘Every day 52.000 people are pitching to an investor. Almost all of them do a horrible job’
After you did your bold statement you follow up with an explanation in one or two sentences.
Every great pitch has a clear structure. Usually you start with your opening, followed by the problem, the solution, the business model, your team and a call to action. By grabbing your listener with a catchy opener, you set the foundation for a great pitch.
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