When it comes to selling an idea or a product, one of the first visuals that come to my mind are from an old Bollywood movie Chashme Buddoor wherein the lead actress is trying to sell a washing powder to the lead actor.
“Kapdon ke liye behtareen saabun — Chamko. Kushbudaar, jhaagwala Chamko!”
“Superb detergent for your clothes — Chamko (sparkly). Foaming and fragrant, Chamko!”
I like how she is bossing around and pushing for the product catching the buyer by surprise and leaving him pleasantly overwhelmed (and also attracted to her charisma). Notice how she got him involved in the pitch and made him experience the product firsthand. It was my first introduction to the art of pitching. Since then, it has come a long way.
In 2014, as part of my master's thesis, I worked with one of the Clinical Innovation Fellowship (CIF)* teams at the Centre for Technology in Medicine and Health (CTMH) in Stockholm. My team was exploring the use of high precision indoor navigation to solve workflow related problems at hospitals and other large workspaces. We were enabling ‘looking up’ for people, places and objects, using their location coordinates, hence called ourselves Team LokkUpp. (PS: It’s a Swedish derivative and any relation to ‘locking up’, more so in reference to surveillance loops, is purely coincidental.)
Towards the end of the fellowship, CTMH decided to conduct a small session on ‘how to sell your idea’ as a part of our graduation ceremony. We were asked to sell the product that we had been working on, to the audience. The session went pretty well, but later, something unexpected happened.
At the networking post the presentations, two people from the audience walked up to me and said:
“Hey man, that was amazing! I’d totally buy your product.”
I was elated but tried to act modestly and not smile too much. I thanked him for the compliment but noticed that suddenly he seemed all puzzled as if he just had some strange realisation. He then asked me after a short pause:
“…although, what exactly were you selling?”
The words hit me in my face. It was the Al Gore moment for me I guess.
Unable to process it, or truly understand it, I found it funny that I was able to sell a product to someone without them even realising what exactly were they buying. It was an achievement regardless. ;)
Although I felt happy that day, it felt like I had failed as well. It pushed me to retrospect on what was it that really worked that day and what didn’t. I have realised, in order to successfully ‘sell or pitch an idea’, you need two key elements:
I obviously wasn’t super successful in the latter, but probably sold the vision so strong that it made up for my shortfalls. However, in most real-life scenarios, you would want to have a stronghold on both. Having been a part of multiple VC and other pitch sessions, here are a few tips that I have to share:
This one’s kind of obvious. Everything starts with this. You must know your product in and out. No tradeoff for this one.
Many people ignore this but it’s probably even more important than the first point. You must know of the loopholes in your idea or things that you aren’t yet sure of. You’d want to avoid having a brain freeze when someone asks you a question and you think: “s***, that makes sense. Why didn’t I think of it!”. This will help you prepare better.
“Wisdom is knowing what you don’t know. — Socrates
Things don’t always go as planned. Even in the incident above, I had to completely redo my script just when our name was announced (because one of the things didn’t go as planned). Probably try to define certain ‘key moments’ for your pitch and your pitch could revolve around them. For example, you may want people to touch and feel your product during your pitch or you may want to ask the audience a key question. As long as you are clear about a couple of such key points, it’s easy to repurpose your script on demand.
Talking about your idea with confidence is half the battle won. When on stage, there’s no room for confusion. It’s fine to not know something (you can’t be 100% prepared), but you need to be confident. Remember, it’s YOU AND ONLY YOU who knows about your idea the best. No one else!
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” — Dr. Benjamin Spock
Being calm actually is a trick to being confident. Don’t be stressed about the pitch. Maybe do something that you really love before the pitch, like watching cartoons, playing a football match (not specifically), etc.
“I never lose; either win or learn.” — Nelson Mandela
Pitch sessions can get boring for the audience/ jury pretty fast (especially if they are bad). The last thing you want is them looking around (or worse, at their phones) while you are talking enthusiastically. Take charge if they do. Engage with them. Always try to keep a couple of interactive points in your script.
“Beware of monotony; it’s the mother of all deadly sins.” — Edith Wharton
You must have a compelling story to tell and must also narrate it in a compelling way. While the former is a lot to do with knowing the product, its value to the customer, etc., for the latter, I recommend doing some theatre workshops. It is a great way to become a dreamer yourself, which of course is the first step for you to enable others to dream with you. :P
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories and magic.” — Seth Godin
Here’s a great example of storytelling. Don’t want to reveal much before you watch it. Enjoy the video.
A presentation must always have a Ta-Da moment. Master the art of revealing just enough and at the right time. Think of it as a Christopher Nolan movie climax wherein, no matter how confused you may have been throughout, everything seems to fall in place and you are hooked. The timing is critical. Build the context and curiosity till a specific point and then “bam!” — have the reveal.
“One more thing…” — Steve Jobs
These are just some of the things that have worked well for me personally. Most of these are generic and could be used across any presentation. As I had mentioned in the beginning, there are many resources/ articles available online about the art of pitching. Some have also laid out the rules/checklist to follow. All good. However, I would like to end by mentioning that it all comes down to your personal experiences and what works for you. As Picasso said:
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Would love to hear if you have any points to add based on your experiences.
A quick good read as a follow up to this would be Guy Kawasaki. Try the link below to start with, wherein he goes beyond just content to keep you prepared.
*The Clinical Innovation Fellowship is based on the Stanford Bio-design Fellowship model wherein teams with a background in medicine, engineering, design and/or business work on solving problems relating to healthcare. The aim is to improve healthcare by promoting innovation within the industry.
Источник: UX Planetstartup tips elevator-pitch pitching presentations
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