Some rules for founders about how to construct a pitch (and what to practice).
It’s nearly impossible to convince an investor about a thesis they don’t believe in. Some implications of this are 1) to ensure you are pitching the most relevant partner at a firm (as based on area of focus, past investments) and 2) to pitch firms whose thesis matches your area of focus (where possible)
It may not be obvious to founders, but investors place a strong emphasis on storytelling ability in pitches. I agree with Sara that storytelling is a combination of logic (building up the narrative in a logical way) and emotion. Most importantly, it can be practiced.
Founders often overestimate how much VCs know about their category or the problem they are solving. Sentences like “the [X] market is $50B” won’t elicit much of a reaction if the VC doesn’t know much about that market. Thus, you need to ensure the pitch is designed to convey the problem in a memorable way.
A big part of storytelling is getting the VC excited about the product and the market. It’s the founder’s job to help convey a story that their version of the future is inevitable. There is a way where you can logically structure your narrative and facts, including with evidence to defend against the more contentious points.
Another important part of storytelling is not just getting investors excited about the opportunity, but getting them excited about backing your team. To achieve this, they need to feel confident on your ability to execute on the vision. This is where things like team pedigree, traction, impressive thinking and investor signal can help build investor confidence.
Relatedly, investors tend to place a heavy emphasis on backing “A+ teams.” So, even if they agree the market opportunity is interesting, unless they are compelled to your team, they are unlikely to invest.
When it comes to traction, there’s an (accurate) saying that “nothing kills a good story like data.” In some cases, it’s better to raise with no/minimal traction than some (moderate) traction. The rule of thumb below is certainly accurate.
Good TLDR below.