The rules of effective startup pitch practice

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  1. The first rule, obviously, is that “Nobody talks about startup pitch practice”. I’m sorry, but that is not only a hilarious callback to Fight Club, it is literally true. Founders spend roughly 5% of the time they should invest in rehearsal to achieve the result they’re hoping for.
  2. No reading from scripts. If you’d like feedback on your script, send it to me on Slack or email it to me. At pitch practice, we practice how we deliver our script, not how to read out loud.
  3. There’s no prize for using the entire pitch duration allowance. Don’t go over but feel free to go under time. Stop high-fiving each other for rushing to squeeze everything in before the bell. Give big ideas, bold assertions and emotional statements a little time to sink in.
  4. You’re practicing with people who’ve heard you before. Fight the impulse to just rush through your pitch because you feel like everybody knows it. Use your imagination to pretend you’re pitching to a room full of people who don’t know anything about you or your company.
  5. A great pitch is a great story, delivered via a great script, use of voice (volume, projection, pauses and higher/lower pitch) gestures and body movement, and stagecraft. We need to have a plan for all these things and practice using them in a planned way when we rehearse.
  6. There will be feedback on your deck if you pitch with a deck. But a great deck is not a substitute for a great speaker delivering a great pitch. If all you’re working on is refining your deck, you’re missing 90% of what makes your pitch better.
  7. Start with your name, your startup’s name, and in bigger pitches, a concise, buzzword-free tagline.
  8. End with an “ask” personalised for your audience, your next important goal, your name, your startup’s name, and your tagline.

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