NEF Workshop: “Pitching & Presentation”


Friday 4th April 2014, CCT Venues, London.

Last week the whole NEF cohort got together to start to work on our pitches and presentational skills. The reasoning being that many of us will be pitching our live ideas to real investors, come May.

To help us get the most from the workshop, we were joined by Stuart Hilston, Coordinator of the Mentoring programme at the NEF, and also an Investor himself at Constellation Capital, and Stewart Bewley, from Amplify Presentation. Together, Mr Hilston and Mr Bewley have joined forces to give their presentational workshops under the collective name of “The 2 Stu’s”. The ambition behind the 2 Stu’s is “to improve the pitching/presenting skills of all Entrepreneurs in London”.

Stewart Bewley comes from a background in professional theatre and acting, and focuses on the ‘How’ of people’s pitches, helping people get the most from their voices, body language and presentation infront of an audience. In contrast, Stuart Hilston comes from a strong background of business and investment, and focuses on the “What” – the substance and structure of someones pitch or presentation. Together they offer quite a valuable learning experience!

Stewart Bewley – “The How”

Stewart: “You’re in an accelerator – you were picked for your personality, not your business idea…”

In turn, I stood up and pitched my business idea to Stewart Bewley and the rest of the class, and then took questions and feedback from everyone. This was slightly uncomfortable, but I was confident enough to get up and crack on with it anyway.

Stewart Bewley feedback:

–          Whenever you describe a pain through telling a story – great!

–          Good confidence, charisma

–          Why is there a problem? – prove it with some facts, figures, quotes from users…

–          How do I know that this problem exists? Talking with authority is good, but where are the facts and figures?

–          Need to state where you are going with this idea and what you need/are asking for!

–          The ask is important

–          Work on the narrative of your story

–          55% of what you communicate is body language alone

Later in the morning, two of my NEF classmates, Olivia and Olly did a dramatization of my idea/pitch. It was very entertaining and quite valuable to see just how much of my idea and vision they had gleaned from my short pitch earlier! Of most interest, and I have to say I agree with him – Stewart said he learnt the story behind my idea in that 20s sketch, far quicker than through my 2-3min pitch.

“Describe your passions and how they evolved:

–          Experience

–          History

–          Where do you want to go with this?”

Stuart Hilston – “The What”

–          Focus on no more than a 5min pitch

–          Don’t use a template / there isn’t a template – every pitch is different

–          There are ~40 accelerators in London, a lot of other entrepreneurs pitch far earlier and more frequently in their careers, you guys need to step up to the plate, and quickly.

For any investor – “Two reasons I’m going to invest in you”:

–          That I’ll get a return

–          That I believe in you and your ability to deliver this.

What goes into a Pitch? The main elements of an elevator pitch:

–          The problem (or opportunity)

–          The solution (product, service)

–          The market (who is it for)

–          How you make money (revenue model)

–          “Secret Sauce” (what differentiates you)

–          What you need (money, people, traction, scale…)

–          Your ambition (e.g. “£10M turnover in 3 years”)

We then re-visited our pitches at the end of the day and the whole group re-pitched, taking on-board the advice and skills we’d learnt through the workshop.