Yes, I have been writing, just in other places. So here’s 3 recent articles I’ve put out there which could have been put here:
Back posting tomorrow – I promise.
A colleague who is in a startup pitch competition for an accelerator sent me this question:
Steve, In your experience, is it better to pitch first or last in a series of afternoon presentations?
I answered him in two parts: There is a theory that says if you’re last, you’re only competing against the one they’ve already chosen to win up to that point. But, honestly – it matters much more to be awesome & not worry about the uncontrollable things.
I guess with most projects we have the same choice on where to focus, on superstition, or super performance.
I do a lot of public speaking. When I am presenting to a large audience there isn’t a presentation where I don’t spot a person who has actually fallen asleep. Now you might think I am crazy admitting it here, but I know it has nothing to do with me. In fact, I’ve had people fall asleep and after the talk others come up and tell me it was the best presentation they’ve ever seen. Every experienced public speaker also knows this to be an inevitable reality when they hit the stage – even during the performance of a life time. The weird thing is that anyone speaking always spots the sleeper – we must have some kind of genetic disposition to finding closed eyes, even in a sea of people.
So, what to do about it when someone does fall asleep during your presentation?
Rule Number 1: Remember it has nothing to do with your talk.
We need to remember the the reason people fall asleep when sitting, standing and not lying down is because they are exhausted, not bored. Some things to remember on this point: They have probably had young kids screaming late at night and didn’t get any sleep. They might have had to catch an early flight to get there for the day. They might have been up socialising at the conference to the wee hours of the morning. They probably haven’t had any fresh air all day being stuck in hotel conference rooms. They have a stomach full of heavy food. The venture capitalist has probably sat through 24 other pitches back to back that day. And they probably had some other factor which made them exhausted. Boredom leads to imagination, distraction and people talking among themselves, not sleep. The evidence will most often be the 99% of people loving your talk, while at the same time this person sleeps. I can remember 2 times I fell alseep while listening to two of my favourite public speakers; Steven Wright the comedian who I absolutely love and Will Ferrell during his broadway show on George W Bush – You’re Welcome America. Which both were absolutely hilarious. But both times I happened to have jet lag, and the jet lag won.
Rule Number 2: Don’t obsess over them – ignore it.
No it won’t go away if you ignore it. But your performance will go away if you don’t ignore it. Remember it is not their fault, or yours, it just is. The presentation is for the person nodding their head, looking you in the eye, the person on the edge of their seat. They deserve your full attention and continued focus on the job at hand.
In the end, what we need to focus on is what we can control, and rarely is this issue something in our control. Sure, if an entire room disengages, go back and work on your speaking craft, get better. But the most important thing we can realise when dealing with people and audiences is this: we are not the only force impacting peoples reactions to immediate world around them.
In the super terrific web series Comedians in cars getting coffee, Jerry Seinfeld (the host) was asked what he thinks has more value in comedy:
A funny story which is suitable for talk show
A small bit more suited to a stand up session
Jerry had an unequivocal answer. He said; ‘A bit is gold’. He went on to say it was superior in every way to a longer piece that requires more explanation, and that’s why you leave long stories for the talk show. The gold bits need to be left for the stage – where it really matters. It’s in this episode we can hear Jerry tell the tale.
It’s the same when it comes to marketing copy or web copy or pitching for a startup. There’s a temptation to not want to leave anything important out. To give all the details so the person can work out the important bit about the project. In some ways it is a form of justification of what we’re doing. A basic fear of the simple. Almost as if we are short changing the audience if we give them less. The ironic thing is that we almost always want less. When it comes to branding and marketing, just like comedy – sound bites are gold. They are customer winning, they are pitch winning and they are life winning. The longer story is inferior.
The added beauty of the soundbite is that the receiver creates the longer version. So soundbites work harder with more people. They tell themselves whatever story they want to from there. They add the layers they want according to their perception. The sound bite is the seed, and the recipient is the soil.
Organise the worlds information
Change the world 140 characters at a time
A computer on every desk in every home
Yes we can
If people can remember our soundbites, that’s all they need to know.
I was in a business pitch which I thought went particularly well. My colleague and I were both quietly seeing this thing come to fruition after many months of development. After the meeting I was clearly excited and pointed out that I thought we’d nailed it and the deal would get done… He then pulled me up and said.
“Over my entrepreneurial and corporate career I’ve been in at least 150 of these meetings when it’s easy to think that it’s a done deal, and until it’s signed or the money is in the bank I don’t get too excited.”
This got me thinking. Of course, he was right. In most cases, the large majority in fact, the deal just doesn’t happen. That’s life in the pitching game. But if we don’t get excited by the possibility, and live in the moment, we are robbing ourselves of the journey. We are taking away 50% of the joy that goes with the unknown. Not just the result of winning, but the joy of anticipating the win before it happens. And if we fail, then it was all for nothing, and we miss out on all the pre-decision positive emotion.
The feeling that goes with a future which looks bright, is just as valuable as the reality of making it so. We ought embrace it.
Here’s 3 cool videos that have landed on my desk top that are worth sharing for different reasons.
1. A great advertisement which I’m putting in the anti-social media category. Taking a simple human truth that is top of mind for many of us as we blindly forge ahead into the world of big brother. I really do feel like we might see a lot of people moving against a digital public life soon. Is this the start?
2. Another more subtle advertisement from Quiksilver. The thing a like about this is that it moves deeply into the mind of the surfer. It unlock how emotionally attached to surfing we are. And for those who have never been inside a tube – it looks very similar to the visual in the film below.
3. Is of the art of presenting to an audience. It is the late Steve Jobs who knew how to use theatre to sell. Here he demonstrates the first ever laptop with wifi way back in 1999.
Invest it in yourself. Go to local Melbourne (Y Combinator) Statup site Adiso.com and book a flight to San Francisco.
Spend the next month working on your best idea startup idea.
Get a working prototype, or do those updates you’ve been talking about for the last 6 months on your current startup. Get it in shape.
Book meetings with VC’s, write up a schedule of where all the events are, startups weekends are and build a calendar of people to meet, things to do and actions to take while in Silicon Valley. Ask some locals who’ve been there and done it.
Get your spiel tight. Know how to pitch in 1 minute. With no slides, just your voice box.
Make sure your spiel covers what it is, who it’s for, what it disrupts, and the final revenue model.
Go there, pitch and win (or lose). But you’ll win regardless. You’ll win with knowledge gains and contacts made. Get excited, have a story to tell, get 2012 off to a fast start.
Didn’t you know it’s an Aussie gold rush over there?
When chasing new business in startup land or any business for that matter, the time to revenue is more important than the amount or revenue.
It’s easy to believe that a big $500,000 project is better than a little $5000 project. Maybe the big one takes a year. Maybe the small one takes a week or two.
I say the small projects rule! But before I choose, the questions I usually ask myself include:
- How long will it take to get the revenue?
- What is the potential for expensive mistakes?
- What is the probability that the project will go over the time estimate?
- Are we paid in time put in or final completion of said project?
- What level of resources need to go into pitching & winning the project?
- Will we get more smaller projects after successful completion of the first?
When we answer these we usually find that the $5000 project that takes a week is a far better option than the $500K project that takes a year. And the reason that they are better is that the revenue is compressed.
I had a catch up with a well known pitch doctor yesterday. He reminded me of some of the most important factors, and regular mistakes we make while pitching.
Biggest mistake: Wasting time talking about ourselves. They already know enough about us, or they wouldn’t be in the room. The right amount of time to allocate talking about ourselves is close to zero.
Biggest Opportunity: Leave some questions unanswered. (counter intuitive I know) This creates the opportunity for real conversation. When we converse, we see how each party thinks. It also enables us to determine if we have the right chemistry to work together.
This talk by Hans Rosling on population growth in the world is incredibly insightful. It goes for about 10 minutes and is worth the investment. His contention is that raising living standards in the poorest countries is the only way to reduce population growth.
Another thing I love is his presentation method and props. Very engaging and a method all entrepreneurs and marketers should consider. Enjoy!