Featured in Alltop StartUpRoar

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Are You Talking About?

Have you ever spent 20 – 30 minutes listening to someone and really have no idea what the person was talking about? You heard them, but the presentation was not clear to you!  The problem is a trap that plagues early stage entrepreneurs.  They tend to forget that the listener may not have the history, background, interest, or other attributes to allow them to follow the discussion.  I have been in a number of pitch meetings where a scientist will talk for 30 minutes and my first question is, “What is your product?”   The scientist spent so much time describing all the science, the product definition was missing.

Better planning and thought will ensure you address the issue before it becomes a problem.   A few simple considerations:

1.      At the very start, make introductions and ask for background information for the people in the room.

2.      Slant your presentation to the lowest level person in the room.  This may mean you provide more background information than usual, but it will help you not loose people during the pitch delivery.

3.      Ask how much time you have.  Stick to the limit unless the listeners extend the limit.

4.      Organize your talk and provide the first and last slide telling the listeners what you key points are in the pitch.

5.      Define your product up front.  Later, describe the product again including any required detail that helps the least knowledgeable person understand the product.  Please, do not leave listeners with the nagging question of what your business is planning to sell.

6.      Put places in the pitch to stop and ask if people have questions.  Sometimes, it is better to clear the issues up earlier.

7.      Make the number of slides a few less than the number of minutes allotted to speak.  15 slides in 20 minutes may be good, 30 slides in 20 minutes may be a movie!

8.      Know your business and the market place COMPLETELY, before you schedule the meeting.  You will get questions and want to make a good showing.  The knowledge will also show through in your presentation and follow on questions.

Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon