The two-minute pitch is the first thing that candidates have to do when they enter the Den. This is followed by some tough questions from the Dragons. Most people dread giving the two-minute pitch, as it is a lot harder to do than you might think.
However, the pitch is hugely important, as it can determine the success or failure of your idea, product or service.
All potential entrepreneurs need to perfect their pitch.
Catherine's Top Ten Dragons' Den Pitch Tips:
Preparation is key. Research your idea thoroughly. Have all the facts, figures and other information you need on the tip of your tongue. No notes are allowed in the Den.
Know your audience - in this case, the Dragons. Who are they? What is their business background? What's in it for them? Try to grab their interest straight away with your idea, and keep them interested by focusing on a return on investment.
Keep the content of your pitch as clear and simple as possible. Less is more. There will be plenty of time for questions afterwards. Avoid technical jargon. Mention three or four points with a logical link from one to the other. This will help you to remember what you want to say next, and the listener to follow what you're saying.
Deliver a confident pitch. Make sure your posture is correct - feet firmly fixed to the floor and shoulders back. Project your voice to ensure the Dragons can hear you. Vary the pitch and pace of your voice to avoid monotony. Emphasize important words and percentages. Don't be afraid to pause. Good eye contact connects you with your audience, and natural gesture reinforces your message.
Be yourself, but be the best of yourself. You can be inspired by good public speakers, but don't try to imitate anyone else. The Dragons want to see the real person behind the product.
Dress appropriately. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. This is a business meeting. You are the face of your business. How you dress could determine whether or not people want to do business with you.
Be honest. Don't try to fool the Dragons, particularly by over-valuing your company. If they can't trust you, they certainly won't invest in your idea.
It's alright to be a little nervous. The Dragons allow for nerves. However, it's no good if you're so nervous that you can't speak! Try to manage your nerves by finding a technique that suits you - relaxation exercises, breathing deeply, meditation, visualisation or positive affirmations. They work!
Be passionate about your product. If you're not excited about your idea, product or service - how do you expect anyone else to be.
Practice makes perfect. Get someone to listen to you. Watch yourself on video. Your two-minute pitch is like any stage performance. It takes hard work, but when you do it well, it's a great feeling. Enjoy.
Catherine Moonan is the 'Pitch Coach' for the Dragons' Den.