3 tips for pitching your tech (specifically for tech people)
Most technical people don't enjoy pitching, but it's something that technical founders or leaders have to do all the time. It doesn't matter if you're fundraising, networking, out on the town or chatting with friends - you never know where you may meet someone who can help move your business forward... so you need to be ready!
In this post, we'll cover 3 tips to help you - a technical person - pitch your technology and/or business idea to your audience successfully. We're not all extroverts who enjoy giving presentations off-the-cuff or having ad-hoc conversations with strangers at a networking event. For technical introverts, pitching can seem overwhelming at first, but with a bit of practice and these tips, you can do it!
At tincubate, we've pitched tech ideas to all kinds of audiences: pitch competitions, angel investors, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accelerator programs, government funding programs. We've built many pitch decks and there are some very common elements that we've found make a big difference when you pitch.
Tip #1: Make Big Vision Statements
When you're pitching your idea, your company or your role, leading with an exaggerated statement helps convey vision, direction and helps people understand at a high level quickly. It becomes a hook that helps people remember you, even in big networking events or trade shows.
It may feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice it will feel more natural to speak BIG. Technical people tend to be very realistic and rational about what we do, how it works and how far along it is. But that's not what pitching is about.
Pitching is about conveying vision and showcasing dreams of how your work can be transformative.
Often, creating a vision statement focuses on changing the language from features (the "what" and "how") to benefits (the "who" and the "why"). Here are a few examples:
Even in the early days of their startup, Uber pitched "reliable transportation for everyone, everywhere." Microsoft doesn't pitch their business by saying "We build computer operating system software and applications." They say "We help people and businesses realize their full potential." Nike says "We bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete." rather than simply saying they make sports apparel.
Now, it's important to make sure your big statements are based in reality - if you say something like "Our tech saves lives", make sure it's actually something that reasonably can do!
Tip #2: Dumb Down the Tech
Technical leaders are often tempted to go into heavy detail about the technology because that's what we're passionate about and it's often the smartest part of the overall idea. However, these detailed discussions have a time and a place, and in a pitch it's best to start with a simplified overview.
Try using language a 5th grader would understand, which is scientifically proven to help communicate effectively to broad audiences!
You can see an example of a pitch deck here that helped Uplift Labs raise a $5.5M round in 2022. The technology slide has very little detail and any technical person looking at it will probably have tons of questions about it. But, for the audience, a high-level overview is all you need. As they dig into it, they'll ask questions that let your technology shine!
Complex slides or hard-to-follow conversation points may cause your audience to be confused or lost and tune out. Keep it simple and remember that it doesn't need to show every use case, user, caveat and detail. A simplified diagram combined with a powerful team bio slide showing technical acumen can go a long way in pitching to investors.
If there are ways to easily relate what you're building to existing known companies, you can often use that as a quick way to communicate a concept. When we built the BOWdometer product, we would often call it "The FitBit for Archery" so people would get a very quick understanding of what it is - even if it's in a completely different industry vertical or niche. Common comparisons we hear is "The AirBnB for...", "The Amazon for..." and "The Uber for...".
There's nothing wrong with tucking detailed diagrams and explainers in your appendix to have them ready as questions and discussions arise. If your technology is very unique compared to competitors, make sure the differences are highlighted!
Tip #3: Evoke Emotion
Technical leaders are often more left-brain dominant, in the sense that we tend to be logical, analytical, factual and linear. Pitching and storytelling is often much more effective when it evokes emotion - something that's typically associated with right-brain attributes like creativity, imagination and artistic expression.
Use imagery that evokes emotion during your storytelling.
When you're building your slides, your website or other pitch collateral, make images a key part of your story. If you're talking about the problem you're solving, the images should convey pain or frustration or confusion. When framing your solution, show images that convey happiness or success or triumph.
We highly recommend working with a graphic designer to help with slide layouts and selecting imagery and colours that makes sense. Designers are able to do creative work so much more quickly and WAY more effectively because they're constantly using their right-brain attributes, so it comes much more naturally than trying to force aesthetic from us left-brained folks.
As an example, when we're building collateral for our BOWdometer product, we used imagery that conveyed triumph by showing actual pictures of our customer base on podiums winning medals. Because utlimately, that's what our users are chasing: mastery of their sport.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, one resource that we've found helpful in storytelling is the book "Building a Story Brand" by Donald Miller.
The best thing you can do to get better at pitching is simply to practice. Practice your elevator pitch to your family, your friends or even to the next stranger you meet who says "So... where do you work?". It is - by FAR - the best way to find out what resonates with people and helps you refine your messaging.
Even if you're not in a leadership position, make sure you can effectively communicate what your company does and what you do within that company in a creative way. That will help you stand out in from peers internally and also during the interview process.
Hopefully this helps inspire you to be an effective communicator for pitching! All of these tips made a huge difference during our business journey. Comment to tell us what you like, questions you have and what you want to see more of so we can help you see the process behind real-world wireless tech product development.
tincubate supports a variety of different initiatives all being incubated together. We incubate our own ideas into solutions people can buy, and we help incubate other people's ideas into solutions they can own. We also own and operate a collective space where entrepreneurs and businesses can grow their ideas into reality, called the tincubator.
If you have a project you want to explore, reach out today.