Typically when someone listens to a performance they are referred to as the audience. But if you are in the preparation stages of an idea pitch, its a good understand the pool of potential audiences at any given moment. The core foundation of the pitch is knowing your story. Having a clear handle on your own assumptions versus facts so you can easily adapt your script to those before you. Those potentially making up the audience include judges, mentors, target consumers, would-be employees, competitors, investors and even mystery guests whose role may not be known immediately but emerge. Here are some insights into what they may be searching for during your presentation and further reading links and references to learn more.
Judge/s - A person who attends the pitch with the intention of using set criteria to evaluate both the style and substance of the presentation. Each judge usually has an area of expertise (management, marketing, technology, etc.) which may have them view projects from a certain vantage point. With so many business plan competitions, the pitch plays a critical step in evaluating the teams ability to define their concept and communicate it to others. Feedback from judges in the form of comments and questions can help teams refine their ideas and improve upon delivery.
Read the Do's and Don't list of an experienced business plan pitch judge :
Ronick, D. (2011, April 27). 10 business plan dos and don'ts Inc., Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/articles/201104/business-plan-dos-and-donts.html/1
Mentor/s - A person who listens to your pitch as a process of improvement. They may hear both formal and informal versions at different lengths. They offer a critical eye and help you tweak your messages as you try out different versions incorporating more or less emphasis on a variety of aspects of your story. Mentors can help you to prioritize. They will ask the questions that may lead you to provide the answers other groups may be seeking. They try to evoke the best out of you.
Read an example of a Mentor's role as described by SVP - Social Venture Partners' :
Social Venture Partners Seattle. (2011). For mentors. Retrieved from http://sifp.net/for-mentors
Target Consumer/s - A person who may make up the actual or potential consumer of your product/service. By pitching your idea, you may show them the benefits of your idea and they can react by showing you if you created demand or not. Some may want to be your first customers, are you ready for them? Do you have a real product/service ready for sales? How long would it take you to fill their orders?
Read a harsh criticism of the sales pitch that states why they fail and see if you can carve out key take-aways :
Matt, J. (2013, June 18). Why most sales pitches/presentations suck. Retrieved from http://whattheythink.com/articles/64078-why-most-sales-pitchespresentations-suck/
Competitor/s - A person representing an alternative solution to the problem your product/service aims to resolve or alleviate. There are always those lurking to spot potential opportunities. While you conduct your own research for the pitch you will also gather information about your competitors to better understand what differentiates your proposed solution in comparison to theirs. However, when you cover the differences in your presentation be careful of word choice and juxtaposition. If a competitor was in the room would you really want to insult or offend them. While certainly you want to illustrate the differences and highlight the benefits your product/service offers it may be best to use some competitive analysis tools to aid in your discussion.
Read why you have competition even if you think you don't :
Shen, D. (2012, December 30). "I have no competition". Retrieved from http://www.dshen.com/blogs/business/archives/i_have_no_competition.shtml"
Employee/s - A person in the room who has a talent you indicate is needed on your team and who you can connect with immediately or via a follow-up discussion. When an idea is forming it develops and grows because resources are provided. Sometimes this is in the form of cash, space and especially people who can devote their time and energy to the current gaps and priorities. Attracting potential employees or partners can be a by product of a good pitch presentation. The ability of the presenters to convince and persuade others about their vision and a description of current and future talent needs can help attract the right employees to help implement plans.
Investor/s - A person who has the potential to fund your business idea. The way we look at funders is changed by the rise of crowd funding where almost anyone can be a source of capital and resources. The criteria they have to judge whether or not they want to invest time and money into your idea varies. You also need to discriminate of who you want to be your partner as their are always expectations to manage. Rest assured, you must present something that illustrates your business model, how does your business make money so that investors can see how they can make a return on their investment.
Read what mistakes to avoid in pitching to investors:
Frasch, R. (2013, July 9). 8 mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching to investors. Forbes, Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2013/07/09/8-mistakes-entrepreneurs-make-when-pitching-to-investors/
++Read what investors are willing to fund right now:
Simov, I. (2013, October 3). Startups we would like to fund. Retrieved from: http://blog.eleven.bg/2013/10/03/startup-ideas-wed-like-to-fund/
Mystery Guest/s - A person who you do not recognize in the audience and whose role is unclear. These members of the audience can go unseen, unnoticed or be a source of your greatest frustration. Many presenters have to tackle the fear of the unknown whenever they put themselves in the central position in a public speaking situation. Learning to accept the mystery of who will actually show up and how you can be your best under any conditions will serve you well towards your goal of successful presentations.
Read more about grace under pressure and managing your own public speaking performance :
Furnham, A. (2013, November 17). On your head: Pace, pitch, pause. The Sunday Times. Retrieved from http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/Appointments/article1340796.ece