Sooner or later every entrepreneur will have to do a presentation to an audience. It comes with the job description. Whether its to a potential investor, client, or an influential group of your peers. You will have to do this.
I have been doing this for several years now. During 2012 I presented at the SXSW HatchPitch competition (we came third out of 87), the Dublin Web Summit, and I have done numerous presentations and on camera appearances. The feedback is almost unanimously positive, so I guess I must be doing something right.
Here is five ways you can make your presentation pitch perfect:
Know Your Audience:
If you don’t research your audience and know, even in a general sense, who your presenting to, then you won’t be able to make a real connection. I suggest doing your homework. Take a little time to work out what kind of personal or business related connections you can make. The more personal, and emotional, the greater your presentation will resonate with your audience.
Make a Connection:
Mike Aguilera, a communications expert, suggests structuring a presentation the following way: “start[ing] off with the benefits of what you’re going to say, the benefits to the audience, and then present and review.” Interwoven into that structure should be a reason for your audience to make an emotional bond with the subject of your presentation. They will remember you in a positive way. Make it obvious, and if you feel you have secured their attention, then pause, before moving onto your next point. This will carry them with you.
Practice Makes Perfect:
Practice, but don’t memorize. Over practicing is as bad as under preparing, because then you will come across as wooden and any emotional connection you were aiming for will vanish with your confidence. Practice in a mirror, with family, friends, colleagues, or even record yourself. That way you’ll see what sections need more work. British wartime leader, Sir Winston Churchill, and US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, were both commanding public speakers. They both knew that practice was a necessary element of perfect delivery.
As entrepreneurs we have a lot to juggle. But rushing to complete what you are going to present or practicing right up till the last minute, you can kill a good presentation. You need to be yourself- a relaxed, confident version of yourself. So you need to stop. Breath. Make sure you know the material and can come across just as passionate about your business as you would speaking to a friend over coffee.
Now is your moment to shine. Structure the presentation so that you’ve made the connection, explained why your solution is better than a competitor or the status-quo, and leave them with something they will remember. In the introduction give them information that will shock or inspire them. In the middle take them through your product, your story, and why they should support or purchase it. Finally, leave them with a call to action, since this is your last chance to ensure the audience is thinking about speaking to you, once the others are off the stage.
When I finished presenting at the SXSW HatchPitch conversation I was still nervous, wondering how I did. I got off the stage and sat down. On the seat in front was an investor from Silicon Valley. He turned to me and said, “you were the no brainer. You will have no problem raising funds. Good luck.” I managed a surprised thank you, and exhaled.
Good luck everyone who has presentations coming up! I hope this article helps.
Ross Linnett – Founder & CEO of Recite, an award accessibility software startup from the UK which converts text into speech for people with dyslexia and visual impairments.
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