Brussels. The million euro pitch. You.
Sweating already? You should be! Phase 2 SME Instrument interviews are no massage. You need to be prepared to make your killer pitch under pressure. Train you must to calm the mind, padawan. Here are five tips to get started:
1. Have a presentation you actually like
One which complies with the requirements, makes sense in general, is proofread and looks good. You need to raise your game – some of the other companies pitch a lot and have outstanding presentations. Work with your marketing/communication/design teams and appreciate all feedback. The more you enjoy your presentation, the less nervous you’ll be while giving it.
2. Practice trial presentations
Practice your presentation in front of other people. And then again. And again, until it feels natural and comfortable. When nobody wants to listen anymore, record yourself to analyse and improve content, behaviour, posture and voice. It will make you a more confident speaker and a better pitcher, even if you lose a few friends along the way.
3. Let someone grill you past medium rare
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: you’re going to get grilled during the Q&A sessions by a jury of experienced investors, VCs and business angels who will ask inconvenient but important questions. So be ready, think of what you would ask if you were in the jury and work on the answers. Then have a devil’s advocate grill you to crunchy charcoal. They will probably enjoy this more than you, but we guarantee you’ll thank them later.
4. Read your proposal again
Sounds obvious, but you worked on it a while ago. Some things may have changed or you just need a refresh. Yes, it is long. Yes, you know your project. Now go read it again.
5. Get there early
Waiting is a drag, but missing a million-euro meeting is probably worse. For whatever life might throw at you – taxi and metro strikes, tractor parades, beer floods, GPS failure, wrong city – give yourself plenty of time to get to your meeting. Enjoy the ride, not a heart attack.
Most of all, be confident! The SME Instrument is not a random lottery. You’ve reached the final stage of one of the most prestigious grant programs because you and your project have amazing potential. Remember that and smile… just not the entire time.