4 rules for the perfect pitch

This month French Accelerator gives you the best practices for the « perfect pitch ».

If you’re an entrepreneur, you have to know how to pitch! In order to convince investors, get your first client, or ask for a loan; the exercise is mandatory.

We often hear that the French don’t know how to pitch as well as Americans. Our colleagues definitely have a gift for this type of performance. What is their secret?

French Accelerator interviewed 2 coaches to give you the keys to a successful pitch :

Manuelle Charbonneau, leadership coach for top executives from a diverse range of business.

Arnaud Collery, coach and animator French Touch Conference, former entrepreneur in residence at 88MPH. Founder of Stand Up For Passion in New York, Arnaud recently launched his concept in Los Angeles.


Here are 4 rules for the perfect pitch:


  1. Practice makes perfect

Just like competition, pitching is an exercise that requires intensive preparation.

“You should work on your pitch as much as you work on your product or your budget. You should repeat, rehearse, hire a public speaking coach, just like an actor.” warns Arnaud.

Public speaking is an art, but an art that needs practice. In France it’s an art that gets little attention during studies. On the other hand, our American colleagues get training from a very young age with debating courses and training in public speaking.

"The French are very admiring when they see the ease of the Americans on stage. Public speaking is a quality that comes with training, it takes a lot of preparation to look natural" adds Manuelle.

These few minutes require hours of rehearsal and lots of practice in front of friends, family, and  strangers.

The tone of the presentation should be exciting. For a few minutes you are the actor and your audience is waiting for one thing, to be seduced.


2. Make a connection

When you pitch, the way you sell your idea is as important as the idea itself. During your presentation you must establish a connection with the public. Whether it is a single investor or a room filled with entrepreneurs, your goal is to captivate.

French entrepreneurs who pitch tend to focus on the product and its benefits. Americans will seek a more emotional connection, a more direct interaction.

Storytelling is paramount. The way you unwind your pitch plays heavily on its outcome. Remember that the majority of people tend to initially react emotionally, then they rationalize in a logical manner. It's about getting a good mix between objective elements and the inspiration you create in the audience.

"French entrepreneurs are often concerned about their accent. In reality, it is the commitment of your audience at the heart of your story that is the key to any connection, " recalls Arnaud.

Investors do not rely solely on a project. They must be convinced to work with you in the years to come. They invest in a talent, not just in a business plan. Give them reasons to bet on you.


3. Be charming

“As soon as a French entrepreneur is good, he can sometimes seem arrogant when talking about his product," Arnaud warns.

On stage, French tend to adopt a tone that is too professorial. You have to be able to distinguish between arrogance and optimism.

In the United States, being charismatic means believing in yourself and your project. This translates into your pitch as well as into body language.

"Visual contact, the lift of the voice, the way to stand, the speech, the rhythm, respect of the timing etc. are all variables to master in order to reach a presentation that has an effect, "insists Manuelle.

It seems logical and redundant but we still see too often entrepreneurs pitch with inaudible voices, hands in their pockets, eyes on the ground. To present effectively, you have to present yourself correctly. The more your audience will enjoy listening to you, the more sensitive it will be to your messages.


4. Go big or go home

The cultural differences that exist between the United States and France also play a role in the way you should pitch.

"American culture is more concrete and explicit than French culture, which is more flexible and implicit. The Americans are more pressed by time, "says Manuelle.

In front of an American investor, you need a direct speech and an explicit message. You want to show that you are the best, why, and the solutions you bring with tangible evidence.

"Americans go big, do not hesitate to show your ambition and your optimism. Do not underestimate the market when you pitch an American, "insists Arnaud.

US investors expect you to sell them a dream. When you talk about your product or service it must have a real competitive advantage, be innovative and scalable. Similarly you must prove the ability of the company to evolve in its market and duplicate the model. Last but not least, presenting a solid team allows you to put all the odds on your side.

To pitch successfully in front of an American audience retain these 10 key words: preparation, connection, vision, optimism, charisma, show business, storytelling, commitment, team, message. And above all, enjoy it!


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