Demo Day – How to pitch in Germany

by Hermann Kracke

Hi, I am Hermann the German, a marketing consultant and culture guide, a German dude sounding board of all sorts. Though often encouraged I realize it is not always appreciated to give honest feedback. It may initially make me come across the not most agreeable person – but anyhow that what I use to do here and it has helped some Indian business people tremendously over many years. It’s like looking in a mirror – you may not always like what you see all that much any day but much of the time it eventually helps you get better at cutting to the chase of what you actually seek to achieve.

Here we go:

1. Respect the time slot.

Yes, if they say 5 minutes, they actually mean five minutes ONLY. In five minutes you can present 5 or 6 or maybe 7 slides but do not attempt to race through a presentation of 20+ pages in such a short pitch. You will likely be stopped by a friendly host in some awkward manner at the most inept point of your presentation.

2. Problem at hand.

By all means in the first two or three sentences tell your audience in what space your company basically operates. Full stop. If you rush through this very fundamental piece of information (which I know is the most obvious to you but not to everybody else in the room) you will leave me wondering how to make sense of most of all subsequent statements because I have not been able to grasp the broader context properly. And there is a good chance your German counter-part will be too polite to interrupt you and just ask you again.

3. In laymen terms, please!

Understood that you primarily want to talk to potential customers or future partners and investors but there will often be non-industry insiders in your audience (who – who knows – may one day be of immense value to your company, make a meaningful connection or offer a break-through idea). Think of a public sector investment agency representative or ordinary business consultant connecting the dots skillfully – the kind of people you will lose throwing around business jargon and a wild bunch of technical abbreviations.

4. Try to be concise!

Speak slowly and clearly. Modulate your voice. Pause for a second if it makes sense. A five minute pitch (or even less) is admittedly a very short time only to present your well thought-out ideas but better to get a few key messages across than to rattle down all kind of details which lead people to tune out quickly (the Insta-problem is real – attention will be poor, people get lost all the time, no different in Germany).


Especially if you are part of a bigger delegation and on a multi-day trip you will be asked to pitch frequently but time slots for each participant will be short – it cannot be managed fairly in any other respectful way.

5. Relax and have fun!

Most people over here will appreciate you taking the leap to get in touch. Once personal introductions are made German contacts do slowly open up. Enjoy yourself! Hope you feel welcome.