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HHOttawa: Pitch Clinic 101

Pitch Clinic 101

Originally published on HHOttawa’s blog on Medium.
Written by Hacking Health Ottawa Volunteer Kevin Dick

Who am I? What is my story/problem? What is my solution? How can you help? Summarizing each of these questions in a compelling pitch that draws in your audience in a short 60 seconds is no simple feat. The Hacking Health Ottawa Pitch Clinic on April 12, 2017 sought to mentor individuals and teams on the successful design, writing, and delivery of an idea pitch. As the final event prior to the highly anticipated Hackathon, there was a tangible sense of anticipation and excitement. For those interested in participating, be sure to check out the Sparkboard and sign up here!

James Chan kicked off the evening with an Impact Hub welcome, reminding us of the year old partnership with Hacking Health Ottawa and the exciting journey that has led to this point. Hacking Health Ottawa volunteers Karine and Haidee provided a breakdown of the night’s event, expressing thanks for L-Spark and Impact Hub for helping bring the event together.

Before starting the workshop, Haidee prompted the audience: “What words or phrases would you use to describe Hacking Health?” A number of fitting phrases were offered including “innovation”, “partnership with CHEO”, and “diversity” and Haidee emphasized that the call to action was of principal importance as none of these initiatives could flourish without the dedicated time and effort of the growing community. She went on to introduce the Pitch Clinic facilitator for the evening: Elza Seregelyi from L-Spark with 25+ years of experience in the entrepreneurial space and having won several awards for innovation and impact.

In about a minute, Elza gave us a pitch centered on the story of Penny, an entrepreneur with big ideas but little expertise looking to build a community of innovators. In the short 70 second pitch, we were each of us drawn into the narrative and relating to the fictitious Penny in one form or another. Elza went on to describe the principal elements to a solid pitch so as to provide the audience with the broad strokes of an initiative.

Elza described many of the pitfalls faced by entrepreneurs giving a pitch. Often suffering of TMI (“Too Much Information”), a pitch is not a lecture nor is it the opportunity to share everything you know about something or anything to do with teaching knowledge. Rather, it is akin to a movie trailer, meant to entice the audience in a concise and compelling manner with a call-to-action to prompt subsequent engagement. Ultimately it is a short performance about you, the entrepreneur, but delivered specifically for your audience.

The three short steps to designing a pitch are summarized as:

1. Knowing your audience and what they care about

2. Knowing your objective

3. Connecting 1 to 2

Additionally, the core principles to be incorporated into a pitch are:

1. Grabbing the Audience’s Attention: Weaving a personalized story can leave an impression.

2. Inform: By being clear and concise (and avoiding jargon) the audience can take away meaningful bits from the pitch. A factual pitch lends credibility to the pitch and indicates impact of the initiative.

3. Motivate Action: A great pitch should incorporate an “Ask” where audience members can respond to the call-to-action in some form or another. Without this element, many pitches risk falling flat.

On a final note of advice, Elza describedthe critical need to emphasize the value proposition of a pitch which pertains to the “what is the solution?”, “what value does it bring?”, and the “who does it target?” It is important to realize that different stakeholders of a solution will respond to different facets of the value proposition. For example, a wearable medical device would bring certain value to a patient (e.g. receive better diagnosis), physician (e.g. leverage additional data for improved diagnosis), or manufacturer (e.g. diversification of products into different business verticals). Therefore the success of a pitch is centered on how well the narrative connects with the audience in attendance.

At this point, we broke into teams to hone our pitch writing and delivery skills. Some team members were meeting for the first time while others were already well acquainted with solutions in mind. It was fascinating to see how despite a wide distribution of team membership familiarity, each group could connect in meaningful ways to breakdown complicated concepts into short 60-second presentations. A number of co-facilitators circulated to help members hone their pitch crafting abilities. It is undoubtedly a process requiring multiple iterations and a multitude of perspectives to perfect.

The evening wrapped up with Haidee providing a breakdown of the Hackathon schedule, indicating that the pitches developed tonight would be useful on the Friday evening of the hackathon weekend. A networking session followed with members engaging in active and passionate conversation about their solutions and expressing enthusiasm for the impending Hackathon.


Are you a developer, designer, policy analyst, artist or engaged citizen with a vested interest in healthcare? We invite you to get involved, and look forward to seeing everyone at the long anticipated hackathon in partnership with CHEO-OCTC, happening next weekend, April 28th to 30th!

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Hacking Health OttawaHHOttawa: Pitch Clinic 101