Published on March 11, 2014
How to Throw a Startup-Style Pitch Event in Your Office
Presented by http://pitchcircus.co
Startup pitch nights are all the rage nowadays. They’re pretty fun and entertaining. And trendy.
But why should startups get to have all the fun? Can bigger companies get in on the action, too?
Here’s how to throw a great pitch event for your team in your own office. (Or anywhere, really.)
1) Pick a focused topic
While startup pitch nights can have many different topics, we recommend that companies pick just one.
This’ll keep the event focused, and prevent your team from losing sleep over choosing their pitch topic.
A good one is “How would you explain to a friend what our company does?” Or pick one product for them to “sell” to the group.
2) Limit your audience
It’s tempting to get the whole company involved right away, but it’ll work much better if you start small.
About 6 to 8 pitches is the sweet spot. Any more than that and it becomes hard to remember them all.
You can make it work for larger groups by arranging people into teams.
3) Set some ground rules
You want your employees to get into it, but you also don’t want them preparing hour-long keynotes.
A time limit of 5 minutes per pitch is good. This gives people enough time to get creative, but (hopefully) not enough to get boring.
And no slides. Seriously. They just complicate things. However, non-techy visual aids (think props, doodling) should be fair game.
4) Encourage quirkiness
Speaking of doodling, be sure to let your team know that unusual presentation methods are A-okay.
No typical corporate speak. The goal is to make the pitch understandable, interesting, and memorable.
Telling stories and using creative analogies are great ways to make the topic relatable to the audience.
5) Assemble a judging panel
Invite 3 or 4 folks from a different part of the company to come and be judges. They’ll love it.
It’s probably best not to invite anyone from your executive team. It’ll put your group on edge.
Create a simple scorecard for them to rate each pitch from 1 to 5. Ratings should consider both content and delivery style.
6) Book a nice room
Startup pitch nights are always in some swanky coworking loft with Scandinavian decor and organic coffee.
Try to book the nicest room in your office for your pitch event. Get something spacious and comfy.
Remember, this is a fun “event,” not a stuffy meeting. Make it more like a party. Get some drinks and snacks.
7) Make everyone feel great
Speaking in front of a group of any size can be scary. It’s basically the #1 fear in the world.
Lighten the mood by telling a funny story or playing a funny video at the very beginning of the event.
And give everyone a huge round of applause before and after their pitch. Make them feel supported.
8) Assign a timekeeper
You know how every presentation you’ve ever witnessed has run over?
Your 5-minute pitches can quickly turn into endless monologues if you don’t control them.
Have someone be the timekeeper who’ll hold up a clearly visible warning sign when the speaker has one minute left.
9) Reward the best pitch
Have the judges tally up the scores for each pitch and announce a winner. If there’s a tie, make them pick just one favorite.
Give the winner a sweet prize. Maybe a gift card for a nice restaurant or tickets to a game. Don’t be cheap.
If the winning pitch was truly great, consider having the winner repeat it at the next all-hands meeting to spread the message.
10) Follow up
So you’ve thrown a successful pitch event and everyone had a great time. Now what?
Don’t let good ideas die. If something clever came out of your event, test it on a few prospects and see what happens.
And repeat the event for different topics or groups. Perhaps you can even establish a creative “pitch culture” at your company?
We hope these steps help you throw a great pitch event that would make even the trendiest startup incubator jealous.
We’re Pitch Circus, and we…err…throw startup- style pitch events in people’s offices.
Is this awkward?
Well, if you need help, we add in presentation and storytelling training to create a complete Pitch Day for your team.
And we’re pretty good at it. Just sayin’.
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