What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from “Jeopardy” – 3 Ways to Ace Your Pitch Q&A

Just mention the show “Jeopardy”, and suddenly I humming the melody that signals the final jeopardy round. Now it’s in your head too. Admit it! That’s good though, because remembering that jingle help you big time when it comes to presenting to an Angel Group or Venture Capitalist. If you don’t know the show or its trademark jingle, then you have other priorities than raising capital, such as relocating form that rock you are living under! But let’s assume you don’t live under a rock, and move on.

As you know, the premise of the trivia show is to choose a clue from one of five categories, and the contestant must come up with the correct response and must do so in the form of a question.  The contestant who amasses the most money is the champion. How can this help you raise money? I am getting there, just stick with me. During the course of your presentation and certainly at the end, there will be a question and answer period (If there aren’t any questions, that is not a good sign). Angels and VCs are optimists by design and so temper that optimism by probing for reasons why not to do a deal. Questions are their weapon of choice. The way you address those questions should be yours.

  1. Always Frame your Answer in the Form of a Question: Assume that the Angel or VC asking the question is doing so because he or she has a specific perceived weakness they want you to address. They see it, and want to know if you do too. In order to identify clearly what they are asking, consider the question asked for a moment, and always ask a clarifying question before you jump into your answer. This not only gives you a moment of pause to consider your answer, but also makes sure you are getting to the heart of their probe.
  2. Pause for a commercial Break: Just like on the show, it is wise to pause at predetermined points to address one or two questions about the section you just covered. CAUTION: do this carefully. First, state that you will take a question or two, and then be ready to move on, even if that means asking to address further questions at the conclusion. Why do this? You want to make sure the investor is fully focused, and if they have a burning question about your financials for instance, you don’t want that to distract them while you cover other important parts. Plus, this is a good way to gauge the level of interest and engagement of your audience. No questions could signal that you are losing the group. If that’s the case, adjust your approach.
  3. Pre-designate who will field which category: Before the meeting, clearly divide the Q&A categories up between the team. When in doubt, always defer to the CEO. The functional expert should answer that question. Even if only the CEO is presenting, other team members should cover questions from their category. Not only does this give non-presenting team members a chance to impress, it also keeps the CEO from having to wing the answers.

The Lesson: Angels and VCs are generally pretty smart and have loads of business experience, which is why they were successful in the first place. Respect that and assume they know something about your industry, and then assume that when they ask a question, it’s because they are digging for a clue about you and your business. You can end up the champion by turning the Q&A into your greatest chance to shine, just remember to answer in the form of a question.