How to “Nail it” with investors every time you pitch

Nubia Capital

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Published Feb 17, 2024

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Introduction

One of the most important skills of a founder is communication. It is the mastery of speaking about complex innovative and business ideas in a way that results in the desired action of that pitch to an investor or customer. 

Communication has a lot to do with presentations and pitching in front of an investor audience. It can also extend to pitch decks and the way they are structured, but the core of good communication is persuasion, influence, and storytelling. There is a lot of improvement that can be made on the path of founders and everyone who has a project, product, or business idea. In the end, you want your audience to not just remember you but also take the desired action.

In this newsletter, we will take you through Five general rules to communicating effectively through a pitch and a more specific model called the How To Model which helps you master your message 

The HOW TO MODEL 

“The HOW-TO ™️ Model is the creation of executive communications specialist, Cindy Skalicky 🔷 of On Point Communications.

Cindy Skalicky 🔷 developed this model as a roadmap for innovators as they craft a winning pitch message. Her model has been published on Forbes.com and is now becoming a book in 2024.

The model – which has now been shared far beyond the start up community and into Fortune 250 companies like Google, DuPont and others, was initially created in 2019. Skalicky noticed over and over again, that dozens of founders and innovators were not able to help their audiences fully understand the innovation they wanted to bring to the market.

The beauty of the model, and what makes it work so beautifully, is the way in which it blends ancient rhetorical theory with centuries-old storytelling components and how it puts the audience squarely at the center of the process of pitch development. Here’s how it works:

The H represents the Hook

According to psychologist Alexander Todorov and researcher Janine Willis, it takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger. During this brief moment, we evaluate qualities such as likability and trustworthiness. At the very beginning of your pitch, the audience is asking to be hooked. They are asking you to get their attention, and this is your opportunity to do so. Could you get their attention with a hook? The Hook can be news, a story, or something about you.  In Elon Musk’s presentation of the Tesla Powerwall, he took us through very disturbing news. Other great hooks include making a surprising claim, referencing a historical event, asking an intriguing question, showing a captivating video, and carrying and showing an object that is perfect for visualisation. 

A great hook engages not just one but up to two/three senses of the body. It could be the physical eyes of the mind’s eyes, the ears too when they listen attentively and pay rapt attention, or even the mouth to speak when you ask an intriguing question. 

The O represents the Orientation

After the short hook, you must orient the audience. Here, you start to speak about the problems you have discovered that your would-be customers have, the industry you are based in, what is lacking in the market and a general overview of why you’re pitching in the first place. At the O, you explain the pain and why the status quo fails. 

The W represents the Win

Here, you speak about the solution with as much simplicity as possible, usually with that perfect analogy that you must have figured out weeks before. As Cindy Skalicky mentioned, some of the storylines needed to talk about a solution or move from problem analysis to solution pitch can be so simple but such simplicity can only be achieved if you take time to slow down and refine your story. It takes time to figure out the perfect analogy. 

The T represents the Tell 

At this point, you have spoken about the problem and what you are doing to solve it. They believe in you. Now, you have to tell them more. What have you achieved? What have you done lately? How has the journey been? This is like the traction slide, leading them to the final letter 

The O represents the Offer 

Offer them something. An opportunity to invest? How they can invest and what they stand to gain. This is the green light, and this is your ask. Be very clear and direct in the way that you ask a question. 

This H-O-W T-O model lives on a story ark because stories are as old and effective as time itself. If applied effectively you have influenced a group of people and taken them from strangers to potential customers and investors. This is the power of communication. 

General rules for communicating effectively 

  1. Your slides must have less than 25 words 
  2. Let the titles on your deck serve as tools for communication. Every title should leave something with the audience 
  3. Organising slide content is a process 
  4. Take it one bite at a time – don’t cram. You can do an extra slide to create space and more build power
  5. There are three levels to editing your slide. Edit at a macro level to align with the “HOW TO” Model. The second layer is to edit the slides themselves and observe them from your audience’s perspective. The third and most granular is editing at the script level. Don’t write out your whole script. Use simple, short, and easy-to-grab sentences. 

Conclusion

Soft skills, like communication, cannot be overemphasized. It is important to go further by employing a communications coach to help you communicate effectively and help your audience take their desired action.


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