Tips for Delivering a Pitch

You can take any approach you choose when delivering a pitch, depending on the pitch format. However, below are some outlines that may be helpful to you in structuring your pitch. 


Our best advice is to outline your key talking points (the top 3-5 things you need people to know about your idea or business) and build your pitch from there.   


Any pitch given for the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship’s Fall Startup Pitch Competition or College-by-College Pitch Off will be 90 seconds, but in other competitions, you may have five to ten minutes to pitch.


Note: Pappajohn Center pitch competitions are intended to be collaborative, entrepreneurial learning experiences.  It is the presenter’s responsibility to protect any highly confidential or trade secret information.  Consider the presentation a non-confidential disclosure to a public audience.  Judges and other participants will not be required to sign non-disclosure statements. In other words, don’t share the secret sauce.


Here are some helpful links:

Below are some potential outlines and tips to help you prepare your pitch. 


Elements of a Basic 90 Second Elevator Pitch Include:

  • Problem/Hook — What is the problem your business/idea will solve?
  • Solution — How does your business/idea solve the problem?
  • Potential customers — Who will use your product/service?
  • Team — Who is on your team? What role(s) do they play? What makes them qualified?


Maybe frame your pitch as “We do ____ for _____ by ______, or use an XYZ statement like “We help with X with Y so that Y.” 


The above are the very basic elements of a pitch, but if you have time, it can also be beneficial to include:

  • Competition/How Do You Differentiate? 
  • Financial Summary/Need/What Will It Take To Launch? 
  • Milestones/Traction — How do you know your idea is viable? Have you done a market survey? Have you talked to potential customers? Do you have sales? Have you received investment? Has some expert validated your concept? What have you done to demonstrate progress? 
  • Impressive Demo (share prototype, demo) 


How to perfect your pitch: 

  • Practice, then practice some more. Your objective is to move from having your pitch memorized to knowing it. (Remember, top 3-5 points drilled into your head so you can pitch even if you are nervous or there is a disruption in the crowd). 
  • Share your pitch with others, and invite constructive feedback. Give a practice pitch someone who hasn’t heard about your business idea yet. Ask them to tell you what they heard afterward. Did they understand your value proposition? Do they understand who your customers will be?


Elements of a Long-form Pitch: 

  1. Introduction
  2. Hook Your Audience — Make them feel the pain of the problem you’re solving; make it clear that there is a problem that you intend to solve.
  3. Share Your Solution — We do X for Y by Z. Keep it simple, clear and compelling. 
  4. Opportunity — What is the market you are addressing? Why now? Why you?
  5. Differentiate — How are you different than other solutions/products/businesses/competitors? 
  6. Customer Benefits — How do your customers benefit? What are your customer’s pain points, and how do you address them with your solution?
  7. Monetization – How will you make money?  What is your business model?  What is your price? How much does it cost to produce, and what are your margins?  How much will you make?
  8. Team — Share skill sets, team capacity and capabilities.


Quick Tips:

  1. Simpler is better. 
  2. If you have a technical or complicated idea, explain it clearly to the audience (using analogies to compare what you do to something the audience knows is helpful – “It’s like a Facebook app for dog breeders” or “It’s like Zillow for farm real estate”). 
  3. Keep it simple! You can’t share every detail! What is important to share so that people “get it” the first time you pitch? Additional details can be shared during Q&A. 
  4. Use a brief intro that captivates and intrigues your audience in so they want to hear more. 
  5. Be enthusiastic, be funny if it makes sense to do so, and tell a quick story that helps people understand the problem or opportunity.  
  6. Keep in your head the 3-5 key points you need to share. Keep those in your mind in case you get flustered or forget what you intended to say. As long as you know your key points, you can deliver your pitch even if something distracting happens. 
  7. Make sure to actually end your pitch. Don’t trail off. Restate your solution, your business name, or some compelling message that provides full closure for the pitch. End with energy!  
  8. Be confident! The more you practice, the more confident you will be!