#HTP: Practice Screwing Up


Alright it’s time to come to grip with a fact that every entrepreneur must face at some point: You will screw up a pitch. You may think you have incredible presentation skills, that your visuals are clean and that you know the microeconomics of your business to the point where you could discuss them in your sleep. It doesn’t matter, something will go wrong at some point and the sooner you realize that the better.

The first way to minimize the impact of a screw-up is simply to prepare. Think about everything that could possibly go wrong and imagine how you might solve them. Ask other entrepreneurs what’s gone wrong in their pitches and prepare for that. In moving amongst the crowds at pitch events, you’ll find some entrepreneurs and investors with horror stories of video that wouldn’t work, entire pitches (or partners) gone missing or some other mid-pitch calamity. The key is to find the elements that easily fail and plan around them. Minimize the amount of moving parts in your presentation to ensure that as little can fail as possible.

And stop using video in your pitches.

Of course, there’s no amount of preparation that can remove all chances of failure. If you pitch enough in front of investors, regardless of how much you’ve practiced for mishaps, something will eventually, inevitably go wrong. When that happens, when the unexpected catches you off guard and you don’t have anything you can do about it? Keep cool.

Presenting on stage isn’t just a chance for the company to show off, it’s a chance to show that you have the ability to keep calm under pressure and a level head. So when something goes wrong and you have no way of fixing it, it’s important not to stammer and utter meek apologies while you trip over yourself trying to fix it. It’s important to smile, go with the flow and keep a level head. Investors want to invest in someone that makes them confident, and that’s only going to happen if you have confidence. Investment pitch mishaps are the perfect time for them to see how you will act when things go wrong in your company, and we all know that things go wrong when starting a business. So if your presentation goes missing, your cofounder is late and you’re on in five minutes, stop panicking. Just smile and explain your idea as thoroughly as possible.

After all, that’s what all the practicing was for.


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