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Posts Tagged ‘pitching

Tell me a story

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The most dynamic entrepreneurs don’t have a pitch – they tell you a story.

Everyone loves a good story, and I think that story can really help connect you with potential investors.

For example, I recently spoke to an entrepreneur who started a company based on his experiences from being hospitalized for a severe illness.  You could sense that he was intrinsically motivated by his experience and was leveraging that motivation to bring that day in, day out intensity that leading a startup requires.

Not all pitches are going to have elements of life-threatening illnesses or transformative experiences.

However, it can be just as compelling to share detailed anecdotes from your previous work or less intense parts of your life and use that to paint a picture about why you’re the right person to have started your company.  And why you are intrinsically motivated to succeed, no matter the odds.

So, the next time you meet an investor, think about telling them a story.

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Written by John Gannon

February 27, 2009 at 9:16 pm

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20 Powerpoint and Pitch Tips from Jeff Bonforte

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Truer words could not have been spoken about pitching:

  1. Don’t use PowerPoint, use Apple’s Keynote 09 ($79) even if it means you have to go out and buy a Macbook ($1000) only for making presentations. Even when I worked at a big company who dictated I use a PC, I brought my own Mac for presos. Like a carpenter, I am happy to bring my own tools if needed. Others agree with me.
  2. Deliver your presentation standing up. Don’t stand behind a podium. Don’t sit down. Even if there are just one or two people in the room.
  3. Demo your product/service first. Before you do almost anything else…demo.
  4. Buy a professional font family ($100-$900). My two favorites are Helvetica Neue and Gotham (Obama and Yahoo! both use Gotham).
  5. Don’t use defaults (particularly for PPT). No default templates. No default clipart. No default formatting for charts or tables. No default fonts. No defaults.
  6. Learn how to do bulleted lists correctly (note: the default formatting for bulleted text, even in Keynote, is completely incorrect).
  7. Don’t use slide titles. If you do, they should say something
  8. Use lots of screenshots or images of your product or service (or team)
  9. Reisist slide animations. Use the “dissolve” transition between slides.
  10. Shorter presos are better. 5-8 slides is ideal. 10-20 for longer or more detailed presos.
  11. Limit or eliminate text. You are there to speak. They are there to interact and listen, not read.
  12. Send PDFs of your presentation, not PPTs as followup.
  13. Tell a story. Every presentation needs a plot (1-3 underlying points). For Al Gore, it was “The planet is in trouble, and it’s worse than you thought” and “We are to blame, but if we now we can also be the solution.” The rest of his amazing presentation were just supporting elements to that plot line of his story.
  14. Reduce the size of everything. As a default PowerPoint (and Keynote even) make everything too big. White space is your friend.
  15. Don’t pass out your slides (unless they are for a board meeting). Don’t send your presentation in advance (there are exceptions to this rule).
  16. Make your own color palette and stick with it for the entire presentation. Generally, you should only use 1-2 colors (plus black and grays).
  17. White backgrounds are best. Don’t use backgrounds other than solid colors of very subtle gradients.
  18. Charts: Reduce categories. Don’t use legends. Reduce font sizes. Reduce guide lines. Use one color with multiple shades. Eliminate or reduce line weights.
  19. Images: Clean up your images and graphics with alpha channel. Mask or crop your images.
  20. Use reasonable examples or comparisons. Don’t compare yourself to Yahoo!, ebay, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook or MySpace unless they are your competitor.
  21. Kalani, Jeff “the Blog” Bonforte, Feb 2009

Take a look at the whole article if you have a moment.  Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

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Written by John Gannon

February 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm

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