The finale of one of our recent ‘Innovation in a Box’ projects, was a Pitch Battle with five cross functional international teams, working in three different time zones, presenting back their early stage ideas to an executive panel. It’s always a risk presenting back early stage ideas that haven’t yet been validated by customers, so we thought it might be useful to share the pitch guidance that we gave to the teams … and perhaps more importantly to the panel.
Team Pitch Guidance
When there are several teams presenting back to senior executives timings are always going to be tight. In this instance teams were given 10mins to pitch their idea and then had 10-15mins questions from the panel. The teams were encouraged to practice their pitches with trusted colleagues and advised to focus on these key areas
Customer First - focus on the pains, gains and jobs that your customer needs to do. Demonstrate data, insights and evidence rather than your opinions
Problem Worth Solving- clearly articulated from your customer (not a business) perspective
Solution - demonstrate how your idea solves the problem for your customer
Next Steps - explain what experiments you are going to run to validate the solution
Some things to try
• Start with a bang – killer customer quote, key statistic, key finding, customer video. One of our Pitch Battle teams using a few props started by asking the panel to perform a simple task … the panel couldn’t perform the task so were immediately interested in the suggested solution.
• Silence – can be really powerful after a big statement.
• Bring a prototype – The two teams that brought a prototype to the Pitch Battle were the eventual winners – coincidence ?
• Make an idea feel real – some of our teams used their phones to shoot fake consumer adverts and kick starter campaigns.
• Involve the panel – ask them questions, they are there to help you, after all you are on the same side.
Some things to avoid
• Long introductions to you and your team
• A detailed breakdown of your project plan explaining what you have done each day
• Projected 5 year revenue streams with a typical hockey stick curve. But do be clear on how your idea will make money and how you will derisk the idea in the short term using experiments
• Presenting fully formed ideas – ideas will change after you have run experiments
• Telling jokes – but customer anecdotes are actively encouraged !
Panel Pitch Guidance
It can be challenging working with senior executives when sharing early stage ideas, which have not yet been validated, especially if they are fans of Dragons Den or the Apprentice. Senior executives are used to full business cases backed up by lots of data and ultimately they are used to seeing linear project updates and making big Go/No Go decisions.
By their very nature early stages ideas are not backed by a full business case and there won’t be lots of detail on the long term plan and they are definitely not linear. Although there should be a clear experiment plan which derisks the next steps by testing the big assumptions. Therefore we try to encourage executive panels along these lines
• Look for evidence which suggests ideas might work, beyond your own opinions
• Explore beyond the pitch and the prototype to the insight
• Don’t be distracted by the best powerpoint and slickest presenter
• Challenge and build on ideas to make them better
• Use your experience to shape/improve and derisk the next steps eg the experiment phase
• Be supportive and make sure everyone enjoys the process
We hope this has been helpful and would love to hear about your experiences of sharing early stage ideas with executive panels. Or, if fancy a chat about our Innovation in a Box Programme then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org