Without investor support you will not get any further with your big idea.

With that in mind, it’s important to master the art of the pitch to maximise your chances in the world of business.

This is a fine art and can take a long time to get right.

In this post, Trevor McClintock, change agent and entrepreneur, talks through his nine top tips which should be employed ahead of every pitch.

1) The most important thing is to know your audience

Have an in-depth understanding of who you are pitching to and make sure you do your research.

Look up the investors on all relevant websites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and be aware of their company and what they specialise in.

2) Try to find a personal connection which you can work on – after all investors are people too!

Find out where your investors went to school, what boards they are sitting on, what their interests are.

Do you have any mutual connections that could help you prepare for the pitch or shed some light on what makes them tick?

3) Keep it succinct

Make sure your pitch is to the point and doesn’t go on for too long.

Getting the timing right is crucial to holding the interest of your viewers.

4) Create one slide at the beginning of the pitch which summarises the pitch structure

Introduce the presentation and then pause to ask if anyone needs to ask any questions.

It’s good practice to engage your audience as early on as possible and encourage them to provide feedback.

5) Make sure you take feedback on board if you get through to a second round

This demonstrates you care about the individual investors and are not just treating it as one in a series of potential investment meetings.

Make your pitch as personal as possible.

6) Don’t use too many slides

It’s important to retain the interest of your investors and not send them to sleep!

Make sure you get the balance right between eye-catching, to-the-point slides and concise, persuasive language to secure your viewers interest in what you have to say.

The slides should support the talks and complement rather than be a distraction from what you have got to say.

7) Make sure the message of your pitch is carried through at every stage

Consistency is key and in reality you should be able to pitch your main concept within just fifteen seconds!

Ensure your viewers leave the pitch feeling they have a clear idea of what you have got to offer and how you will achieve each KPI.

Ask for questions at the end so if there are any points which need further clarification, they are addressed and you close the pitch on a high, having responded to everyone’s queries.

8) Tell a story

This is another way to make a pitch more personal.

No one wants to hear the same template dry corporate spiel, that can unfortunately be all too common.

Make it interesting and engaging and encourage your team to brainstorm creative ideas to make your pitch original ahead of the presentation.

This is a key tactic to make the presentation stand out from the crowd and not something that everyone employs.

Weave the narrative through every aspect of the pitch including the introduction and conclusion for maximum impact and to keep your audience engaged all the way through.

An element of surprise can also help to retain interest throughout.

9) Prepare

And finally, the most important thing you can do to give yourself the best chance possible is to prepare well.

Thoughtful preparation can reap rewards later on.

If you need further guidance on preparing for your next pitch or have some ideas you wish to put forward, why not get in touch on Twitter, Facebook, Email – or just leave me a comment below.