Host Prep Guide | How to Convince Investors to Make the Leap

HBS Accelerate thanks you for hosting this workshop on Pitching! This guide will help you prepare for the workshop.


  • Hosts should be prepared to distribute materials, start and stop videos during the workshop, time activities, and share materials after the workshop.
  • While hosts do not need to have content expertise and are not expected to facilitate discussions, they set the tone and enable participants to reap the most from the experience.
  • Many of the activities are fast-paced, divided into 1-minute timed sections. Reviewing and understanding timing of activities in advance will help to ensure smooth progression.

What Participants Will Learn

  • How to anticipate investors’ key questions and address their uncertainties.
  • Tactics for incorporating types of proof that investors need to see.
  • Methods for using proof and process to demonstrate a startup’s profit potential.

Workshop   Structure

This 60-minute workshop integrates tested frameworks, techniques, tools, and insights delivered by an HBS faculty member via video. Between short videos, participants engage in practical, hands-on activities to help them evaluate and strengthen their startups.

  • This workshop is designed for 2 to 15 participants. The format alternates between pre-taped videos of HBS faculty and interactive activities that participants do within the workshop.
  • Most activities require participants to work in pairs (SEE BELOW for adaptations for odd-numbered groups).
  • Participants should plan to work with the same partner throughout.
  • Activities work best if they choose a partner they don’t know well, who can offer an unbiased opinion.


If the workshop begins on time and timing suggestions are followed precisely, the workshop duration is 60 minutes. To establish a more relaxed atmosphere, allow for stragglers, and foster time for longer introductions and post-discussion, hosts may choose to advertise the workshop time as 70 or 75 minutes.

NOTE: The workshop operates like a bootcamp. It covers a lot of material and moves at a fast pace intentionally. At the outset, hosts may underscore:

  • Activities build upon one another, like reps of any exercise, and are designed to prompt founders to think, respond, and assess quickly—in short timed bursts—with a partner. The quick nature of repetitions are important, so hosts should resist the urge to dwell on activities, even if participants ask for more time.
  • Participants should not expect to ponder concepts deeply or strive for perfection.
  • The quick pace purposefully builds repetition and challenges participants to practice activities under pressure.
  • Alternating pitching and assessing—under tight time constraints—with an unbiased partner during the workshop sets the foundation for them to continue applying frameworks to their own ventures beyond the workshop.

Hosts should endeavor to maintain the pace, helping participants move through each exercise in the time allotted. See the Workshop Timing overview in the checklist below for a quick, at-a-glance overview of workshop timing.

Atmosphere & Physical Set   Up

  • Our goal is to provoke thought and promote active peer-to-peer learning. We provide participants links to resources and hope to help foster an ongoing community of learning, in person and online.
  • Participants will work with the same partner (or 1 group of 3) throughout the workshop. Choose a space that allows participants to easily turn to one another and work in pairs or small groups, then quickly reassemble into the larger group to view Accelerate videos together.

After the Workshop

  • To reap the full benefit and continue momentum, we end each workshop with Beyond the Workshop Action Items, accessible online, that participants can take to continue applying their learnings to their ventures beyond the the workshop.

Checklist to Complete in Advance

(download a printable PDF)

  • READ the Workshop Short Description (link below). This can be used for marketing purposes.
  • INVITE participants using language from Workshop Short Description. Print/distribute copies for participants at your discretion.
  • READ the Workshop Goals and Structure Overview for Hosts (link below).
  • REVIEW the Workshop Timing overview to understand timing and logistics before workshop (link below).
  • PRINT the Workshop Timing overview (links to all documents to print below). Because the workshop timing is precise, it’s essential that hosts print at least one copy for themselves to refer to during the workshop, while advancing workshop slides.
  • REVIEW the slide presentation of workshop content. We recommend reviewing slides alongside of the workshop timing overview. You’ll display slides during the workshop to deliver content that corresponds with activities.
  • PRINT copies of each activity in advance for all workshop participants (links to all activities below)
    • Note: each activity is comprised of multiple pages: complete directions for participants to follow and assessment sheets. Be sure to print all pages.
  • ASSEMBLE copies of all 3 Workshop Activities (and description if so desired) into complete packets for each participant.
  • GATHER extra pens to bring to the workshop to ensure all participants have a pen.

Materials to Print and Review  in Advance

We suggest hosts print these 3 items to reference during the workshop.

Workshop Activities

Hosts must print copies for ALL participants.

Materials to Bring to the Workshop

  • Pre-assembled packets of all activities for each participant.
  • Extra pens for participants.
  • Printed copy of Worksop Description, Workshop Goals and Structure for Hosts, and Workshop Timing for host(s) to consult.


Optional Content for Review (don’t need to print for participants)

Depending on your level of involvement, some hosts may choose to review the post-workshop activities prior to the workshop.

Before  Workshop  Participants Arrive

  • OPEN the slide presentation to display workshop content.
  • CHOOSE “Present” so display extends to full screen and only 1 slide displays. Participants should see the workshop title slide as they enter.
    • Packet of handouts (containing all pages of activities) to each participant in advance. Providing participants with one complete packet of all activities at the outset minimizes distraction between activities.
    • Pens, if needed.
  • ENSURE you have a printed copy of the Workshop Timing overview to refer to during the workshop.
  • PROJECT slide 1 of  slide presentation to display workshop content. You’ll advance these slides to display content throughout  the workshop.

Workshop Flow

  •  WELCOME. After participants arrive, advance to slide 2 (“What to Expect”) and set the tone for the workshop, explaining the intentional quick pace and intended results.
  •  ADVANCE to the next slide (“What You’ll Do”) and review key points, underscoring the importance of giving direct constructive criticism to partner. This is not a time pull punches—directness, blunt questions and honest criticism are invaluable in these exercises.
  • ADVANCE to the next slide (“Introductions”).
  • LEAD participants in brief (60-second) introductions.
  • ADVANCE the slides to display Video 1 (slide 5) and press play.
  • ADVANCE to the next slide, Overview of Activity 1: Pitching for Proof: Identifying Uncertainties (slide 6).
  • ENSURE that all participants have directions and assessment sheet.
    • Allow participants time to read the directions.
    • Follow directions for each activity. SEE BELOW for ACTIVITY information. 
    • Resist the urge to dwell on activities, even if participants ask for more time. The workshop moves at a fast pace intentionally. Many activities are divided into 1-minute timed sections. Be prepared to start the minute-timer embedded in slides quickly.
  • CONTINUE advancing slides in this manner and progressing through all activities.
  • ADVANCE to next slide (“After the Workshop”) after watching the final video.
  • REITERATE to participants that practicing your hook is essential to pitching. Encourage participants to develop a plan for practicing hook 20+ times, and commit to working with member of workshop to review progress/assessments.
  • ADVANCE to final slide (thank you), after watching the final video.
  • THANK the group and ask participants to share with you any additional questions or feedback they have.

Activity Overview


All activities in this workshop follow a similar format. Refer to the Workshop Timing overview (printed earlier) to time the workshop activities.

  • Participants should choose a partner and work in pairs. They should plan to work with the same partner throughout all activities.
  • Partners alternate roles: 1) Founder who pitches and 2) Investor who assesses.

If you have an odd-numbered group:

  • Hosts may choose to act as a participant, pair up with the person who doesn’t have a partner, and engage in the activities OR
  • The person without a partner could join an existing pair. In groups of 3, we suggest that participants alternate presenting throughout all activities, following this model:

For each activity, hosts follow the same steps. After watching video introduction of activity, advance to slide with overview of activity (screenshot below).

NOTE: slides have only a basic overview of each activity. Refer to the directions (hyperlinked in the checklist above) for each activity. All participants should have copies of the directions and assessments for each activity in advance.


  • REITERATE that everyone should choose a partner and work with the same partner throughout the workshop.  
  • ENSURE everyone has all pages of the activity handout.
  • FOLLOW the Workshop Timing overview, using embedded timer to begin each step within the activity.
  • START TIMER after pairs are ready. Many of the activities are fast-paced, divided into 1-minute timed sections. Be prepared to start the minute-timer embedded in slides quickly.
  • DIRECT partners to stop and swap roles, restart timer.
  • CONTINUE to follow the Workshop Timing overview, starting the timer again to begin each new step within the activity.
  • REASSEMBLE group at the end of all steps in the activity.
  • ADVANCE slide and play next video.
  • MAINTAIN the pace. The workshop operates like a bootcamp. It covers a lot of material and moves at a fast pace intentionally. Hosts should resist the urge to dwell on activities, even if participants ask for more time. Remind participants they should not expect to ponder concepts deeply or strive for perfection. The quick pace challenges them to practice activities with an unbiased partner so after the workshop they can more easily apply frameworks to their own ventures. 

Repeat these steps throughout the workshop, following the specific directions in each activity.

After the Workshop




Marilyn Morgan Westner

Posted by Marilyn Morgan Westner

As a learning designer, writer, and educator, Marilyn creates dynamic learning experiences for adults. This involves applying technology-enhanced learning strategies and tools to enhance existing courses and developing new content for new learning initiatives.