Genexodus 3:3 – Defying the Wizard
Rather than first creating a narrative, the PowerPoint Wizard was summoned. This Wizard recommended following a Template, replete with its bullets and title slides. 30 minutes later, the Entrepreneur had fashioned a Pitch in the image envisioned by a few dozen Microsoft programmers.Or, the Entrepreneur dusted off an old presentation and shuttled a few things around to make it up quickly.
I sat with an entrepreneur yesterday afternoon who was quite proud of his PowerPoint presentation. He had asked me for 15 minutes of my time to help him with a financial projections slide/graph. Not one to keep my mouth shut, I asked him to go through the whole presentation first.
Dutifully, he started with the infamous “Title Slide”. It had the obligatory name of his company, his name and title. He even used animation to reveal his elevator pitch, written in large fonts for the audience to read. The problem is that if he’s going to SAY the words, why show them on the screen? I proposed a different approach.
The name of his company isn’t as important on the title slide, IMHO, as the image of his core product. I recommended filling most of the screen with a photograph of his product and using the ‘white space’ for the company name and his details. Then, to reinforce the 3 verticals his company will focus on with the same core device, he caused his name to transition to the categories list. This will allow him to engage the audience with his elevator pitch *while* this slide is static behind him on the screen… there’s less distraction from the VERBAL message.
A side note is in order. Your PowerPoint should *support* the presentation, not drive it. Presentation is equally about what comes out of your mouth and how you appear when giving the presentation. Even the best PPT files won’t help a speaker overcome poor body language or lack of confidence in one’s tone.
Some advisors recommend starting with a short bio before jumping into the presentation. IOW, “Hi, I’m [Joe] and I have [20 years] of experience in [fill in the blank] building the greatest [widgets] ever.” I think that some of that prep work needs to be done in advance. This could be immediately before the presentation as a 3rd-party introduces you (since you got the opportunity to present because of a referral – more on that later) or earlier because the audience read your website’s About Me page or your LinkedIn profile when they heard you were coming. BTW, just like you take great care in how your About Me page reads, you should also coach the 3rd-party on how you’d like to be introduced… help him/her concentrate on points of your experience/capability that supports your Pitch message, not distracts from it. IOW, if working for the Olympics is important to your pitch then get that reinforced early so that you don’t have to say it. Spending any time talking about your hobbies or political affiliations could simply distract for your eventual presentation. Lastly, if possible, ask that your introduction be personal and conversational… not be read from a biographical sketch.
What happens if you don’t get the introduction and can’t be sure everyone has read the web page first? Then, start with the elevator pitch and follow it with a short biographical statement as a segue to next segment of the presentation.
Since this company had a shipping physical product, I felt it was important to remind the audience of that fact. Since the audience will make up their mind within the first few minutes (some have argued it’s the first few seconds), it’s important to SHOW that you have a product. In his case, I recommended a photograph of the finished product (professionally lit, if possible). For a software product, use a screen shot at minimum. A professional photograph of someone USING your software is better.