Last night 12 brave souls stood in front of the crowd at the Silicon Halton Pitch Night and told us about their businesses. This friendly, supportive forum represented a potentially profitable opportunity for the pitchers, whose services would now be known to a wider audience.
To add interest to the event, we all received scoring sheets to rate the speakers. Congratulations to the top three: Robert Duvall, Brett Johnson and Reema Duggal, and to all who shared their stories.
During the networking time after the pitches, a couple of the speakers asked me for candid feedback. I don’t want to name names, but I thought it might be constructive to share a few impressions of the pitches in general. Perhaps this advice will be helpful to you when you have to stand in front of a group and convince them you’re worth listening to.
Share a story; describe the problem you solve for your clients
It’s tempting – and easy – to recite a laundry list of what your company does. But it’s more effective to share a story about how you solved a client’s problem. Help us picture us as your client.
Don’t read; do rehearse
Sure, you might be nervous, but do spend the time to know your talk inside out so you don’t have to read it. After all, we’re talking about a maximum of two minutes. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Be sure to try out your talk in front of a mirror so you can be aware of your body language. Making of a video of yourself can be helpful too. Or ask a friend to evaluate you.
Uptalk happens when your voice rises at the end of a sentence, making it sound like a question instead of a statement. You sometimes hear it when telemarketers call: “Hello, my name is Stacey? I’m calling from the XYZ Bank?” Ask your colleagues if you do this. If you do, stop, because uptalk damages your credibility.
Use humour where appropriate
If you inject a little humour into your talk, you help us to relax and like you more.
Watch your words
Don’t overuse the word “solutions” and clichés like “Your success is our success.” Instead, clearly emphasize the benefits of working with you. Why would we choose your business over your competitors?
Be wary of busy visuals
Rethink the idea of showing a cluttered slide. We should be looking at you, not PowerPoint.
Silicon Halton is a grass-roots high-tech group of people who make a living, make meaning, and make things happen in technology in Halton Region, with a focus on technology, community and growth. Read more about Silicon Halton here.
If you were there, what would you add to my points? Do you disagree with any of my observations?
How to share your story in a demo
Interview with Shel Israel about his book Stellar Presentations, or why you should not try to present like Steve Jobs