The one minute pitch: 5 pointers to help you kill it on stage

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling off the trees and a thin layer of frost is sitting on your bike seat every morning alongside the canals of Amsterdam. And with Selection days coming up for 20 young, smart energy startups what better time than now to fix up your one-minute pitch?

So we talked to some of Rockstart Accelerator’s previous startups who had participated in Selection Days before and compiled some insight and information for you (we’re always here to help startups!). In our latest edition of the weekly wrap-up, here are 4 points to ponder to make you pitch perfect over the weekend.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Having your perfect one minute pitch comes with practice. And practice. And more practice. But don’t practice to the point that it sounds robotic. Instead, be thoughtful in your practice, try different combinations of points and choose the one that you like the best. “Really think about every sentence you have in your pitch,” Lisanne Buik, founder of Van Chefs recommends. Pitch to your team first, and embrace their feedback. Convince yourself and you can convince a room full of strangers in your sleep. And with practice comes confidence.

Body language matters

The content of your pitch only makes up a fraction of what your audience will respond to. Most of it is your body language. Think of it as a mini performance- no actor made it on the London or Broadway stages by fidgeting and slouching while at an audition. Exude confidence in yourself by standing up straight, not leaning your weight to one side, holding your hands still and making eye contact with people in the audience on a rotating basis. If that’s too intense, there’s always an exit sign to use as a focus point at the back of the room 😉

For more body language tips, check out what our Demo Day pitch coaches recommend:

Keep the content neutral

The one minute pitch needs to work for mentors and investors from a diversity of backgrounds. You never know when the developer of your dreams will be standing at the bar rail next to you. Keep the content easy to digest and catered to your company’s strengths, whether this is the first, or hundredth time you’re delivering this pitch. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Elmar Weber, co-founder of Cupenya reflects. “I also had no idea what the audience was made up of. Whether it was a technical background, a business background. Because those backgrounds are pretty different, it had to be a pitch that worked.”

Make it memorable

One way to do this is by telling a story. Not longer than 10-15 seconds (that’s already one quarter of your pitch), but tell the audience your story. Co-founder of Syndicate Plus Pieter van Herpen pitches by these rules. “Looking back, it’s much better if someone tells a natural story and highlights the problem. The people there are hearing so many stories. So try and stand out by telling a simple story that they will remember.” Another option is to have an attention-grabbing one liner that you start off with. Control your audience’s attention from the first second.

Leave the audience wanting more

Or they won’t come talk to you. If you give too much information away, what more do they need to know? If you don’t give them enough information, why should they bother speaking to you in the first place? Entice them with the glamorous aspects of your idea; the market segment, scalability, innovation, or even just your passion. But not all of these aspects. “It is the only first impression you are going to have,” Lisanne reminds us. “You can always make it up with all the conversations you have later with all the mentors.” You only have one minute remember?

Some further reading for your weekend

On body language

Chris O’Donnell’s personal blog

Also on Rockstart