Over the years I have attended plenty of ‘pitches’ from people seeking to raise money for their business projects. While there are always exceptions, most are appalling, unprepared, poorly structured, and worst of all, unrehearsed.

A Good Pitch Isn’t Rocket Science

A few weeks ago I was approached about investing in a growing technology business and asked to assist in attracting other investors.

The concept was interesting to me and they already had some initial revenues. So, I agreed to meet with them. Two people – the chief executive and the technical lead.

I have to say, I lost interest within five minutes of the start of their ‘presentation’.

Firstly, they were late. Secondly, they didn’t apologise for being late or give any attempted explanation. Thirdly, they just didn’t look organised.

They didn’t make much of an attempt to talk to me about what I may or may not be interested in. They just said “thanks for meeting with us” and started fumbling around with the laptops in their bags.

They had obviously decided to make a presentation to me, and the Power Point version was apparently on their laptops. They hadn’t decided which laptop to use, and thereafter ensued a brief discussion about who had the most battery left.

Their presentation went on 60 slides in all, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t really understand most of it.

Not because I am technologically illiterate, but rather because they didn’t really make an effort to explain things. And they insisted on using tech language, rather than the words and phrases that an investor would find interesting.

What My Son Could Teach Them

A few years ago, my son had an interview for a leadership scholarship.

He asked if I could run him through a few questions the night before the interview. As we sat down in his room, I gave him my opening question. “So,” I said, “tell us why you have decided to apply for this programme?”

I was immediately met with a response along the lines of “oh dad, don’t be like that”.

My response to him was immediate. “Do you want to do it for the first time in front of the interview panel? Or do you want to practice before you go in there?”

We spent three hours preparing for that interview. He won the scholarships ahead of others who were older than him. I even received a phone call from the convenor of the panel, who wanted to advise us of how well he had interviewed.

A coincidence? I don’t think so.

So, let’s imagine you are looking for investment funding for your business and you are headed off to the bank, some professional investors, or perhaps even the father-in-law, for a first meeting. Here are some things to think about as you put your presentation together.

Simple Tips For An Effective Pitch Presentation

Firstly, think about the person or people you are presenting to. Try to think about what they are expecting to see from you, and how you might respond to that in the content of your presentation.

Secondly, when you first sit down with them, try to build some initial rapport.

Introduce yourself with a strong handshake, your head held high and a smile on your face.

I know, it sounds pretty basic doesn’t it? You would be surprised by the number of people who fail at this point.

If you don’t already know them well, ask them some personal questions. What do they do? What are their interests? Remember you are trying to build a picture of how they will fit with your business.

Thirdly, open your presentation with a little bit about what you intend to discuss.

Ask your audience if the topics you have outlined will cover the things they were expecting.

Next up, try to tell a story – your story and there’s a logical order to follow in doing so. Why are you in the business? What are you trying to achieve? What have you achieved so far? What’s working well? What are the hard lessons you’ve had along the way? Why do you need to raise money at this point? What are you going to do with it? What does success look like? How will your investor know if you’re on track?

What are the risks along the way? What’s in it for the investor if it all works out? And finally, are there any questions?

Again, it sounds pretty basic doesn’t it? But most people don’t do this stuff well enough. Some, don’t do it at all.

A couple of other things to keep in mind. Be realistic. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver, than the opposite. Secondly, be yourself and be personable.

Your audience is looking for someone they feel they can work with and trust. An experienced business person will make those decisions in the first few minutes of your meeting. Don’t try to fake it. They’ll see right through you.

Finally rehearse. As weird as it may seem, spend some time in the boardroom or the bedroom, by yourself, running through your presentation. I was once told that if you can do your presentation to the spot on the wall, you can do it anywhere.

Someone once said “repetition is the mother of success”. In other words, practice, practice, practice, because preparation shows.

You’ll be more relaxed and your presentation will be more professional and engaging.

Good luck.

*Bruce Cotterill is a company director and author of the book, The Best Leaders Don’t Shout. This article originally appeared in Stuff.