Why pitching is like dating

You’re on your first date, you must make the initial impression the best one in order to lock in a second date, you employ all the skills you have at your fingertips, and voila! Success.

· Short-term goal for a second date: secured
· Long-term goal for a relationship that lasts: in progress

When dating, certain fundamentals should be avoided, such as answering your phone, belching or arriving dirty. Likewise when pitching your business to a prospective investor, below are the basics of what NOT to do:

· Avoid buzz words and jargon

These can sound the death knell of any new interaction. Use easy-to-understand language, crisp, concise and simple. Include actual anecdotes and humour; be witty without being corny or sarcastic; and never ever talk down to anyone because you think they won’t understand your ideas. Be genuine, be real, be sincere.

· Go easy with the PowerPoint presentation:

Yes, we all know that it looks good, sounds good, is professional and pleasing to the eye. But it’s you they want more of, rather than the accoutrements, just as when on a first date it’s the impression you make as a person rather than the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the art you own, that captivates the heart. Rather ensure that the initial attention is focused on you and your ability to share your exciting venture; and only then bring on the PowerPoint, as the dessert rather than the main course.

· Don’t ignore advice from those around you:

You sound out your best friend about what you should wear, which restaurant you should visit – and even if you don’t take all the advice, it’s comforting to know that two heads are better than one and could work in your favour during the date. So too when preparing your pitching message, play it first to a captive but honest audience – family, friends, colleagues - that will criticise positively and help you see the errors that you missed because you’re too close. In this way you will gain perspective, confidence and practice.