Jack of all trades, master of none. When it comes to presenting a new business idea in front of a room of potential money guys, talented executives, and savvy professionals, you don't want to be a Renaissance Man. The internet is full of articles and "best-practices" about what to do when speaking to different groups, this is just a quick hit to the surface of the topic and a reminder. These points came to light with a range of great and less than stellar presentations at the most recent Venture Club.
Stay on Target
The more turns and twists your pitch (and ultimately your business model) takes, the less the audience cares. You might be the brains behind the operations and think yourself capable of seeing a path through the twisted, complex world of differing product lines and applications but that doesn't exactly pay the mortgage. The last thing you want is someone to be taking notes and after a couple of lines there is a very large "?". If you can't stick to one main theme and one main concept in the course of a 5-minute pitch, seriously reconsider.
We are all busy people in today's world. We don't have the time, energy, or attention span to listen to how a product is going to revolutionize green energy, capture market share in the perfume industry, and save the rain-forests by artificially replicating the vanilla bean. Yes this was an actual pitch. Pick one, put the rest as bullet points on the final slide, label them as "Future Growth Opportunities".
Know Your Limits
If you don't have the best presentation skills, get nervous in front of a crowd, or just plain don't like to talk - let another team member do the pitch. A seasoned audience can smell blood in the water better than Jaws. If you're nervous, turn out the lights, the party is over, go home, thanks for coming out, don't forget to tip your waitress. You wouldn't roll out half-finished code to the market and you shouldn't roll with a person who isn't a skilled pitchman. Fortunately this is a skill that can improve, just know it takes some time.
Read more about the Venture Club here.
A big thank you to AccuPS, Anagin, Spero Energy, MIMIR, and SpeechVive for their spotlight presentations at the tech-transfer themed luncheon. These companies are looking to do great things in this world and with a polished pitch, they will get there.