Tag Archives: pitch

Make that interview, meeting, pitch a success

Recently, as an entrepreneur panel and pitching event was winding down (http://www.levin.suny.edu/innovateny/), I found myself chatting with some entrepreneurs who were anxiously discussing a big pitch they had the next morning. One woman asked if the clothes she was wearing would be okay for the pitch. She was surrounded by a small group of business experts. Everyone offered her advice…change your blouse…the skirt works…maybe you should wear a suit and not be so casual even if you’re pitching the entertainment industry…etc. I finally leaned in and said quietly, “wear what you feel comfortable in…you don’t want to worry about your clothing when you’re doing a presentation.” A look of relief washed over the entrepreneur’s face.

There was more of an exchange on multiple topics and again near the end I made a suggestion…” remember, if the audience interrupts you with questions go with the flow and answer them. Don’t worry if you don’t get back to your presentation. This is more important.” So many presenters answer a question (some don’t even do that) and instead of going back and giving the audience (in the case of investors, they are usually the ones directing the conversation) your canned presentation, let them lead you to where their interests lie. First, it shows you are flexible and connected to the conversation. Second, is says that you are not rigid and insisting on the presentation. The purpose of being prepared is so when this sort of thing happens, which is virtually all the time, you can go with the flow.

More useful tips are offered by David Holloway, management consultant http://sangira.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/WPPDF-Entrepreneur-Pitching.pdf and by Entrepreneur with some serious tough love advice http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/201826

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

When Knowing Too Much is A Bad Thing

Every entrepreneur should, and usually does, know every detail about their business. This is necessary to run a good business. However, when it comes time to communicate that information to your existing customers, potential customers, investors, etc. all this information becomes a problem.  It’s the ultimate example of TMI.
So the first thing you need to do is get out of your head and into the head of the customer or audience you are going to be communicating with.  What do THEY want to know?  The next thing is to keep the customer’s point of view and look back into your head and sift through the mental inventory you see there  and pull out only what you need.  If this sounds difficult, that’s because it is.  That’s one reason why marketers exist.  Not only can they go through your head and pull out what’s important, they make the final product look really good, and thus, make you look good. Aruna Inalsingh discusses this in her blog
http://www.animarketingservice.com/e-news/2013/03/22/the-importance-of-clear-executive-summaries/ . She uses executive summaries as an example. Executive summaries are a key piece of communications for any business, but the truth is you need clarity in every single piece of communications that goes out from your company. Aruna sums it up in a few key points.
Taking this clarity idea a radical step forward, Carmine Gallo talks about ditching the elevator pitch altogether with some great alternatives. I particularly like the one-word pitch. http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2013/03/26/six-simple-and-irresistible-alternatives-to-the-elevator-pitch/
But I don’t think it works in all situations (there was a period in my career where I wrote 2 word headlines on all my ads for about two years. I always won awards, but that’s a very hard thing to do).  
Evaluate your situation, your audience, and your own ability to communicate before you try these out. And it always helps to try out new ideas on a colleague or someone who doesn’t know the assignment. If they get it, great, if not, it will be reflected all over their face.  This is  great feedback.
If you can’t create these communications items on your own, then seek outside help. 


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.