Successfully convincing a group of strangers to support and fund an entrepreneur’s idea, requires a skill that may intimidate the average person. There must be an innate ability to read a room, a confidence to remain resilient if the feedback is less than favorable, and an understanding of persuasive reasoning. These skills among others, are what separates entrepreneurs who pitch, from entrepreneurs who seal the deal.
Sometimes an entrepreneur enters a pitch meeting where the circumstances do not work in their favor. Maybe the investors have been inundated with funding requests, maybe no one believes in their product, or perhaps the entrepreneur is a woman of color. This woman may have to work past oppressive heteronormative standards before even opening her mouth to speak. These circumstances may deter many, but through practice, research and tenacity, persuasion can become another tool readily available in the kit of a visionary.
Aristotle stated that there are three methods of appeals which can persuade others to believe that you, above all else are worthy. The first method is ethos or an approach through ethics. How can an entrepreneur’s character stand out? How can they convince someone that they are worth the effort? Secondly, pathos or emotions. How can a business owner emotionally captivate an audience? How well do they read a room and respond to feelings? Finally, logos or logic, this skill is crucial towards solidifying support. How would this idea logically make sense? How can an investor recoup and profit? What evidence supports this? Understanding these appeals, can create a stand out entrepreneur and pitch, even in the midst of unfavorable circumstances.
Many times women and gender non conforming entrepreneurs are not invited to investor meetings. Therefore, they do not have the advantage of constantly pitching and perfecting their skills. Subsequently, these entrepreneurs have to work smarter in order to afford the same opportunities that their male counterparts have by default. This is the reason why the Industry Power Women’s Brunch event on May 22nd was so important. It created a safe space for women to share and pitch ideas to a roomful of people who already believed in them. In addition, it facilitated a judgment free atmosphere where women had the opportunity to share their ideas, hear feedback and continue to perfect their pitching skills.
It was at this brunch where guest speaker Khadijah Adams of CE Hutton, delivered a rousing speech that brought a few women to tears and the entire audience to their feet. In essence, Khadijah pitched without naming the resources that CE Hutton provided. She engaged the room, piqued their interest in her journey, and allowed that to be the gateway towards questions about her company. She employed Artistotle’s pathos, logos and ethos. In an industry dominated by men, brunches such as these and speakers such as Khadijah, are important. They are reminders that women deserve a seat at the table, where they too can have a piece of cannabis infused pie. Maybe that pie was baked at a woman owned restaurant, backed by an enthused investor who believed in her business pitch. In order for these entrepreneurs to flourish, there must be events such as the brunch, where they can perfect their skill, pitch to other women, and get the funding they deserve.
By: Thaïs Francis