Recently, as an entrepreneur panel and pitching event was winding down (http://www.levin.suny.edu/innovateny/), I found myself chatting with some entrepreneurs who were anxiously discussing a big pitch they had the next morning. One woman asked if the clothes she was wearing would be okay for the pitch. She was surrounded by a small group of business experts. Everyone offered her advice…change your blouse…the skirt works…maybe you should wear a suit and not be so casual even if you’re pitching the entertainment industry…etc. I finally leaned in and said quietly, “wear what you feel comfortable in…you don’t want to worry about your clothing when you’re doing a presentation.” A look of relief washed over the entrepreneur’s face.
There was more of an exchange on multiple topics and again near the end I made a suggestion…” remember, if the audience interrupts you with questions go with the flow and answer them. Don’t worry if you don’t get back to your presentation. This is more important.” So many presenters answer a question (some don’t even do that) and instead of going back and giving the audience (in the case of investors, they are usually the ones directing the conversation) your canned presentation, let them lead you to where their interests lie. First, it shows you are flexible and connected to the conversation. Second, is says that you are not rigid and insisting on the presentation. The purpose of being prepared is so when this sort of thing happens, which is virtually all the time, you can go with the flow.
More useful tips are offered by David Holloway, management consultant http://sangira.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/WPPDF-Entrepreneur-Pitching.pdf and by Entrepreneur with some serious tough love advice http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/201826