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Thursday, March 21, 2013

5 Ways to leave people with the WRONG impression

You messed up.  Yes, I mean you!

Investor presentations given at venture conferences, competitions, and investor meetings are times where you should stand out, but NOT for negative activity! Likewise, you do not want to provide a negative impression when obtaining help from advisors giving you free time.   It is amazing how many entrepreneurs forget that other people have feelings, needs, likes, and dislikes.  Forgetting to play to your audience can leave them with the wrong impression. 

Simple actions and considerations make a large difference.  Things like just showing up or saying thank you leave better impressions than the alternative.  Over the last few weeks of conferences and meetings, topics arose in discussions with companies as well as the attendees.  The areas listed below really made impressions and not good ones!

  • Show up & on time: This sounds simple right. Well, a judge in the audience described his willingness to provide help to two entrepreneurs.  He set aside billable time to provide free help to the startup.  They never arrived nor did they call until far after the proposed meeting time.  In a second case, a conference competitor failed to arrive in time to present at the scheduled time.  The presenter called from the airport saying they were coming much later!  These are just two examples and without mentioning numerous late shows for meetings.  Courtesy suggests simple actions.  Show up at the proposed time and get there early if possible.  It is far better you waste your time than that of someone trying to help you or review your technology.  At least CALL in advance to inform the people waiting for you if you will be late for some VALID reason.    

  • Practice the talk: Some of the smartest people ignore the simplest of actions.  An audience listening to a CEO stumble over a presentation gets the impression the presenter does not know the technology.  You may have only 5-8 minutes to present.  Practice in front of a group at the company to ensure you sound professional, knowledgeable, and fit the allowed time.

  • Improve your slides:  You may have wonderful video or sound slides.  Did you prepare to present to an audience without them?  Some audiovisual equipment and software are not compatible with certain technologies.  Developing your presentation to allow for such glitches can help you a great deal.  Consider simplifying the slides or having alternative ways of describing your points: remember the PIVOT that works with slides too.  Your message will be better received and you will be seen as able to handle problems.  A second idea to consider is to place management slides toward the end and a summary slide up front: i.e., what is the take home message.  Tell them how great your team is just before you provide the summary, which can be a repeat of the take home message.

  • Describe the technology: An earlier post in this blog dealt with this concept.  It is a real turn off for some people when they have to ask the presenter what the product is and how it works after the talk is over.  That should have been clear in the talk!

  • Follow instructions:  Seeing presenter applications prior to a conference has positives and negatives.  Finding a technology that seems very exciting makes leaves the reviewer with a strong desire to attend the conference to see the presentation.  Learning that that great company did present because they failed to follow the application instructions is a real disappointment.   You may have something that is fantastic so make sure people really get to see it: i.e., please follow application instructions!

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