5 ways to rock your demo day pitch

The 18th dimension
4 min readMay 30, 2017

Enticing investors with your demo day presentation means selling a complete package. You spend most of your time paying close attention to the content of your pitch: getting the numbers right, including your “aha-moment”, setting the tone for your company.

But, before you even utter a word to the investors and audience, you’re already speaking. It’s in your clothes, the way you move, the energy you give. These are just as important as the content of your pitch. When your clothes are distracting, when you’re shifting makes people wonder how nervous you are, all the relevant information is lost in the air.

What can you do? When shaping your pitch, take these points into consideration. Include them in planning and practice, practice, practice.

1. Fashionable thoughts

You do not have to wear a 3-piece suit or closed, sensible pumps for your demo day presentation. But, your outfit and image should reflect the environment you’re trying to achieve at your startup. If you’re going for the classic Zuckerberg look, make it your own: include your logo or your company colors. When in doubt, go with something basic, classic and comfortable. This is not the day to try a new outfit or to break in new shoes. Your outfit is not your company and will not sell it. But the attention you pay to details — like a clean shirt and jeans — shows how much you care.

2. Body language

Now that you’ve walked into the stage in your comfy-but-confident outfit, it’s time to start. Before uttering a single word, the investors and audience are paying attention to you. The way you move, your facial expressions and mannerisms are all parts of your body language.

Lauren Cascio presenting Abartys Health in our Gen.2 DemoDay

Taking control of your body language will help handle the nervousness, if any, during the pitch. It’ll also help emphasize and deliver your content. Once you have your pitch down, practice in front of the mirror, in front of trusted peers and record yourself. What are you repeatedly doing? Are you making eye contact? Are you making eye contact with more than one person? Now that you know what looks weird and what works for you, it’ll be easier to adjust your movements.

This video by Toastmasters Internationals, the world-renowned organization for communications, clearly explains and shows how body language can be distracting, diverting attention from your content.

3. Energy & Delivery

Time to charm them! Once you hit that stage, be commanding. Connect your content and your energy. Avoid being monotonous by varying your speech tone. When reminiscing about your beginnings, be energetic and friendly; when talking about numbers be more emphatic and serious. Emphasize the important facts of your pitch with your body language and your tone. Just remember to be clear with the message you want to transmit the audience.

Again, practice your delivery and record it. Watch it. Yes you’ll hate watching yourself the first few times, but it will let you see where you need to add or reduce emphasis and catch your pet words.

4. Muletillas (Pet Words)

Muletillas are little crutches. That’s what Spanish speakers call those filler words, “um”, “ah”, “eh”, “so”, “like”, “you know”, and if you’re trying to avoid those, “well”. We use them to rest, to fill the silence while we think what comes next. The best way to avoid them is to practice, practice and the practice some more your content. You will know it by heart and it’d be easier to recover if you do forget something. Also, silence is not your enemy. Taking a second or two to let the information sink in is a big help for your pitch.

We usually talk faster that we think, so reducing the amount of words you say per minute can help you avoid those muletillas away.

5. Script it

People often underestimate the power of a script. In fact, Andres Barreto, entrepreneur, investors, and P18 Mentor, recommends that you write your script before even starting designing the slides. Having a script will keep rambling at bay while giving you a direction in which to tell your story.

Looking for investors and funding is a nerve-wracking adventure. Add public speaking to it and it is understandable to be nervous. But, think about this way: your startup is already moving in the right direction. Relax and enjoy it. You’ll be done in four minutes.

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The 18th dimension

Parallel18 is an innovation hub that represents a unique gateway for global startups to scale from Puerto Rico.