Practice makes confident!

Practice makes confident! Justine Harcourt de Tourville on delivering that perfect pitch

An experienced communication strategist and the founder of her own branding and positioning agencies, Morning Glory and Brand Camp, Justine Harcourt de Tourville sure knows a thing or two about wowing investors. As a pitching mentor for Start it@kbc, Justine has already coached dozens of startups on their way to success. And she’s more than happy to share her words of wisdom with any startup determined to pitch it big. Ready? Let’s do this!

Stage fright is in everyone’s DNA

An American living in Belgium, Justine noticed over the years that Belgians tend to be far less at ease speaking in front of an audience than Americans. But, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Or more confident, at least. Justine: “Every human being is scared to speak on stage, that’s a given. It’s how our DNA is encoded; humans don’t want to risk rejection. But it gets better with each effort. The beautiful thing I’ve seen with the Start it@kbc startups is that the more they practice, the more confident they get. That doesn’t mean they suddenly have the best pitch, but they grow significantly more authentic and comfortable in telling their story.”


TIP: Practice your pitch in front of a virtual audience using the Start it@kbc pitch booth!

Don’t sell a product. Tell a story

Your product is the best product any startup has ever come up with. It’s going to be big. Huge. You’re going to launch it, and investors are going to pay for it. True story! But unless you’re Donald Trump, merely boasting about the awesomeness of your product is not going to dazzle anyone. “Sure, your product solves a problem—but that doesn’t make it interesting,” Justine explains. “Try instead to establish a connection with your audience. Your listeners are pulled into your pitch with sentences like:

  • Remember when …?
  • Don’t you just love how it feels when …?
  • So I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day …


Also, never use cliché phrases like:

  • Imagine a world where …
  • … disruptive …
  • … out-of-the-box ….”


Establishing a connection with your audience doesn’t even have to involve your product from the get-go. Justine continues: “You just want to arouse people’s curiosity and get them to relate to you. So tie a story to your product and begin from there. For example, I once listened to this pitch about cable lines under the seabed. The startup opened by talking about sailing. They got the audience thinking about the seaside, feeling the ocean breeze… and then they directed people’s attention to what was under the sea, and how cable lines were important for industrial purposes. That pitch really stuck with the jury that day.”

Sign up for Start it@kbc

Ready to blow away the Start it@kbc jury? Keep an eye out for the next Start it@kbc pitch wave!