One of my former business colleagues was fond of saying, "You only have one chance to make a first impression."
If you're going to be presenting your pitch to potential investors or to people who might buy your goods and services, you'd better be prepared to make a great impression. But how do you do that?
I believe the first step is not to think about yourself. (Thinking about yourself can make you nervous.) Instead, think about your audience. Who are they? What will they be listening for? What do you want them to do afterward? And what can you say or show that will move them toward the action you desire?
The second step is to make your presentation simple. Tell a story with as few slides with as little verbiage as possible. (Think Steve Jobs.) And tell the story from your audience's point of view. You have just invented something that will change their life for the better. Hook your audience in with a question that makes them think about their need for your product.
But the single most important thing you can do is practice. I mean practice saying your talk OUT LOUD. Read it to yourself out loud and with expression. You'll see where you stumble. You'll hear awkward phrases that you can smooth out. But most of all, you'll internalize the talk. Then, you won't have to read your notes or your slides. Say your speech out loud in the car as you drive to the venue. Then, you can look at your audience and engage them.
Watch a TED talk. The TED presenters are the best I've ever seen. Use them as inspiration. They have clearly practiced.
Over the weekend I read more about practicing for a presentation in the Wall Street Journal. I commend the article to you: