Keep it simple: No monster trucks, light shows or smoke machines.

By Alida Miranda-Wolff (Associate Manager, Hyde Park Angels)

This post originally appeared on Medium and is part of the Entrepreneurial Education Series, which brings together successful, influential entrepreneurs and investors to teach entrepreneurs everything they need to know about early-stage investment through events, articles, videos and more.

Pitching well is key to your company’s success. That means you should invest some serious hours into building the perfect pitch. But even if you build a great pitch, you can still undermine it, losing investor interest and goodwill, if you make these six mistakes.

1. Going Over the Time Limit

Entrepreneurs make this mistake all the time. And it makes sense. Your business is your life, and you could talk about it all day if you had the chance.
Here’s the problem: In addition to being disrespectful of the investors’ time, it also indicates you don’t know your material. If you really know your business backwards and forwards, then you should be able to distill it into key points.

2. Over-Packing Your Deck

The more information you stuff into your pitch deck, the harder it’ll be to read, stay on track and away from tangents, and make your investors understand your value. Clean, simple slides that are easy to read and convey the most essential points will make delivering a powerful pitch much easier.

3. Bringing Up “Almost’s” and “About To’s”

Did you “almost” land a huge client? Are you “about to” release the next version of your product, one that will solve your current version’s problems? Do not talk about it. You’re only going to raise questions about why you couldn’t follow-through, why it’s not done already, or what other potential problems could arise.

Your goal should be to focus on what you’ve successfully executed, not what was “almost” executed but fell apart. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about exciting things to come, though. Rule of thumb, if you’re 95 percent sure something that’s “about to” happen, will, share your news with investors. If you’re on the fence, do not open yourself to the possibility of failing to meet expectations.

4. Forgetting to Check Your Logic

It’s one thing if you forget to check your numbers and misrepresent your revenue or any other key metric you’re presenting to investors. It’s much, much worse if when asked about it, you can’t explain the logic behind your calculations. A keying error is an excusable mistake; a logic error casts doubt on your ability to run your business. Go through your models and projections in-depth and make sure you understand how and why you built them the way you did.

5. Overproducing Your Pitch

Keep it simple: No monster trucks, light shows, or smoke machines. Tell your story, support it with the right metrics, and leave time for questions.
The more you add on, whether it presenters, jargon, or multimedia, the harder it is to convey your message.

6. Under-Preparing

You need to take every pitch seriously, no matter how small it may seem. You never know which meeting or presentation will impact your future. The worst pitches are the ones where entrepreneurs do not know all the facts about their own materials, don’t know their audience, and haven’t spent any time practicing their delivery.

How to get ready for your next pitch:

  • Prepare all of the necessary materials (even if you don’t use them)
  • Research your audience and gauging their level of expertise in your field
  • Customize your pitch for your audience
  • Practice your delivery
  • Keep notes on the most important points you need to cover

Ultimately, if you build a great pitch to start with, you’ll probably avoid several of these critical mistakes out the gate. But always better to be safe than sorry.

About Hyde Park Angels: Hyde Park Angels is one of the Midwest’s largest angel organizations and provides a forum for entrepreneurial-minded members to invest in early-stage businesses in the region. By leveraging the members’ deep and broad knowledge of multiple industries and financial capital, Hyde Park Angels has driven multiple exits and invested millions of dollars in over 30 portfolio companies that have created over 500 jobs in the Midwest since 2006.