Pitching your idea is a crucial part of the entrepreneurial process. Sometimes, pitching can be very high stakes and other times it can be a great opportunity to try out new ideas or even styles of sharing your ideas. As an Entrepreneurship Catalyst, Open Pitch Week is my favorite event to see students showcase their fun and creative ideas! Open Pitch Week is a great opportunity for students to dip their toes into the waters of pitching within a welcoming and low stakes environment. During Open Pitch Week, there is one Open Pitch event hosted each day where students can share their ideas in a pitch style format and compete for the chance to win a crowd favorite prize of $250.
If you are interested in participating this semester, but don’t know how to pitch, or maybe just want a refresher, here are three key tips I recommend for preparing:
- Know your requirements. Open Pitch is a week-long event where you can participate as much as you would like; however, you can only win once. Each pitch can be a maximum of two minutes and there can be no use of presentation slides (you won’t need to use slides anyway, since the pitch is only two minutes). Knowing all about the type of pitch event you are entering may seem obvious, but can be a factor in how you prepare and how you present your pitch.
- Introduce yourself and the name of your idea. When introducing, you want to be sure it is kept brief and to the point, especially when there is a tight time limit. Clearly explain your idea in a way that is digestible to others. It is important, especially for ideas that are complex, to be sure you are simplifying the content for the audience in a way that articulates the key points of your idea.
- Address the problem you are solving. This is the time that you need to explain who and how your idea is attempting to help aid the problem. It is crucial to give the audience a broader understanding of the reason your idea is important to the community at large. This can be done in a multitude of ways such as real world examples.
- Be ready to answer questions. This includes hypothetical questions, clarifying questions, integrity questions, personal questions, etc.
- Be open to constructive feedback, positive and negative. Feedback at times can be difficult to address. It is easy to dismiss feedback, especially when you have spent much of your time on an idea. You tend to feel as if you already know what needs to be done. Unfortunately, this mindset will only hinder your idea. Coming in with an open mind does not mean you need to take all feedback and implement it, but rather sift through the feedback and discuss amongst others (like an Entrepreneurship Catalyst) to further shape your idea.
- Record yourself. When it comes to practicing, we have all been told to practice in front of a mirror; however, I find it much more useful to record myself on my laptop. This way I can look back at the areas that I need to improve, while also timing myself in a way that is not stress inducing.
Pitching can be an intimidating part of entrepreneurship, but it can also be fun! Seeking out low-stakes opportunities, like Open Pitch Week, is a great place to start to practice and get a feel for your pitch style.
About the Author: Quinn is currently studying Global Management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She has grown up surrounded by entrepreneurship in a family of small business owners. Opening her own greeting card business when she was thirteen years old, Quinn has learned from experience that entrepreneurship is more about a problem solving mindset and less about owning and running a physical business.