The elevator pitch is a crucial element of any startup’s identity. And it’s especially vital when selling your idea to investors. Organizing your thoughts and effectively structuring your pitch will go a long way in ensuring your company’s success.
One of the best tools for developing an amazing business pitch is mind mapping. Simple as it may seem, the humble mind map is perfect for conveying a chunk of information in a clean, concise manner. Why? Because your audience already understands how it works.
During an elevator pitch, you have to keep people engaged without sending their thoughts in too many directions. A mind map presents broad categories that you can easily explore in more depth without losing the big picture.
The greatest benefit? You can repurpose mind maps over and over again, from the brainstorming process right up to presentation day. Here’s how to create dynamic mind maps that sell your vision.
Start with a “mind dump”
Mind maps are visual diagrams used to represent your ideas and concepts. This visual thinking tool will help you solidify your message, structure information in a clear way, and even generate new business ideas.
Think of your mind map as a visual business plan. Like your business plan, you will need to include everything, from information about your products and services to your branding, market strategy, and financial plans.
Start your mind map out with what we call a “mind dump.” Lay out every piece of your business’s puzzle, without consideration for how it should be structured or organized — at least not yet. The goal is to collect as much information as possible to get a big-picture view of your pitch’s strengths and weaknesses. Not every piece has to be detailed to the letter, but each part of your business plan should be represented in some way or another on your diagram.
Begin organizing your mind map
Start organizing once you’ve visually represented each piece of your business plan. Create categories and subcategories for related elements. As you go, you may realize pieces that should be there are missing. Take note of these elements by adding them to the diagram; these are key insights into where your team needs to direct their attention.
Once you have a complete picture, your mind map will likely be too large to function as a presentable piece of information to outsiders, but it’s an invaluable visualization for you. And it’s the starting point for you to begin breaking each piece into greater detail.
Refine your pitch message
Within Cacoo, you can create different sheets within your diagram to more clearly explore the details of each section of your mind map. By the end, you may end up with a whole series of tiered mind maps, each conveying a visualization of a key part of your business.
These different tiers of mind maps can eventually serve as the visuals that go with your finalized pitch. Your pitch will start with the big picture and then work its way into the granular details.
An example: Let’s say you’re creating an app. Your first visual should show investors what you intend to create and sell. The next could walk them through your financial structuring and projections. After that, you could demonstrate how you envision the business to look over time (say the next year, five years, etc.)
Connect this series of visuals into a narrative that tells the story of your business in a meaningful, detailed, and cohesive way. Walking your potential investors through a well-thought-out, visual plan of where you see your company going — is a powerful tool for acquiring impassioned backers.
Make it “pretty”
The final puzzle piece is to take your well-structured, detailed plan and dress it up a bit. The easiest way to do this, of course, is with a dedicated piece of mind-mapping software. Make sure you’re using high-quality, consistent colors, images, and shapes. A beautiful deck isn’t going to save a fundamentally bad idea, but it can put you over the top when you’re up against equally great ideas.
Remember, these visuals shouldn’t feel like a chore for investors to wade through. They should be concise, clear, and uncluttered. They should help viewers make the connections you’re explaining verbally.
When possible, provide graphs and charts within your mind maps to further enhance the visual experience of your pitch.
Use elements of your brand visuals
We can’t say it enough. Consistency sends a clear message to investors that you have a well-defined business plan and are deeply invested in its success.
Every interaction with potential investors should build on the story you’re trying to tell — and that includes visuals. If you already have a brand aesthetic for your business, don’t let it go to waste. Use style elements that fit the tone and personality of your brand to enhance your mind maps.
Do you have a brand color scheme? Consider color-coding your entire pitch deck using your brand colors. Designate a color for different sections, such as product development, client outreach, market research, and implementation. You can use the same system for any handouts you provide during a pitch, making it easy for investors to navigate to the sections that interest them.
Keep the nice-to-know information on hand
While giving a pitch, investors may ask for more detail. Always keep handy a separate file of documents that could be useful to an investor should they ask. These can be attached to your presentation later for anyone interested in diving deeper into a particular detail.
Make your pitch deck interactive
Having files on hand is always a good idea, but you can go a step further and make resources available right in the mind map. Not all pitch presentations happen in person these days. If you’re engaging with clients in digital spaces, aim to answer their most pressing questions in the slide deck.
Investors have different perspectives and priorities, and it can be difficult to predict what will be most important to each person. Add links to mind map bubbles, so your audience can view extra information as needed.
Let’s say your mind map has a section on sales. One reader may care more about your total sales to date, while another is more concerned about average annual growth. By linking fact sheets or media to the subcategories on your mind map, both viewers can get the data they’re looking for.
Competition for startup funding in today’s market is fierce. To stand a chance, you need a high-quality, organized pitch. The more time you spend perfecting your pitch and startup plan, the better it will be. If there’s one area of your business plan you can’t afford to skimp on, it’s how you sell it to investors.
This post was originally published on January 30, 2017, and updated most recently on December 12, 2021.