Your next elevator pitch will be:
1 - Quick to deliver
2 - Clear to understand
3 - Easy to engage
To do this apply the three beat mountain structure to your next pitch and keep it simple.
Present every opportunity you can.
By Martin Barnes
Please let me introduce the benefits for training your team with presentation skills
"It's not rocket science a few sessions of principles and practice is the 20% action that provides 80% results." I hear myself say as I pitch our training.
Structured with time to think, reflect, practice and ask questions between 2-3 sessions is an essential step to improving a skill and is the 20% of your time to build the 80% results.
Our principles work great for local and international teams and suits modern workflows.
Presentation training is the primary focus for MoI in our offering to you - we want you to enjoy your future presentations and sharing and empowering you with skills is an excellent way to do this.
If you are looking for the 80/20 principles to start getting over current presentation challenges I have focused on three key areas to boost a team with fresh new skills:
These three areas are the 20% that influences the 80% and so starting with these builds long term skills which improve with our clear structure and support.
Structured in regular one-hour sessions or a 1/2 day depending on schedule means we can either cover top line principles across more steps and see how they connect and gets results. Alternatively, go deep in one area and deconstruct a step and look at developing a framework whichever format benefits your team most and gets you the target KPI and ROI.
Plus in follow-up workshops, we can design a project linked directly to a typical presentation challenge you face in your industry.
Your people are good, invest in them with training and coaching and make them better, so they are more challenged and rewarded professionals.
Choose from 3 different recommended areas of focus to get the best from time training your team so they can solve their presentation problems and be independent, and so you all enjoy your future presentations.
Thank you for your time and reading this far - please leave a comment with any questions.
Keep it simple and focus on how people benefit.
Avoid complex details when talking to nonspecialists.
A detailed context works best after an emotive intro.
Recently I was part of a great conversation with three other business owners - we were sat having a post-dinner drink at the China Accelerator mentor dinner after GMIC 2017.
One of the guys was introducing his company and started telling us what he does, and we proceeded to discuss how he could improve his opening pitch.
This story is particularly interesting because his company works in nuclear waste disposal which is an insanely complex field and I think if it's possible to simplify and clearly pitch nuclear power than its possible to pitch any business which is why I believe that this is an interesting post to share.
But back to the beginning of his pitch.
As he started pitching his company, he went down the same path as many people do, and I used to. He began telling us what he did and how it worked which if you are not a scientist soon becomes way too much information and stops making sense.
I think people start going deep on what they do as they feel the audience needs a full context and background to understand how and why it matters which is right...but not as a way to start the conversation.
His structure was something like this:
I understood most of what was said, but some of the science flew right over my head - the thing that stuck out was his last sentence - "We call it closing the loop on the dangers of nuclear waste - our process and technology make it 100% safe."
"Closing the loop" That was it for me, and what concerns most nonscientists, how is nuclear waste managed and made safe?
As with all pitches, I hear I'm always looking for the why.
Why do we relate to the solution, how does it impact us? How do we understand it? How do we connect with it?
I’m often recommending people reverse their pitch and start at the end - start with the overarching conclusion and work backward.
Our fellow dinner had focused too much on what nuclear waste is, and the technical details of how to make it safe which to ley-people make little sense. Non-nuclear physicists mostly only know the scary headlines of leaks, spills, and contamination the highly dangerous aspects, the glowing green ooze from movies. That's why we want nuclear waste to be managed and disposed of safely that's why we want the loop to close.
As we discussed his pitch, I suggested that ‘why' we need a company like his is to make nuclear waste safe. Do we want to know how that works? Not really it's like not knowing how 4G and smartphones works don't stop us buying them. We want to know how it works for us - makes our life better and safer.
So I suggested the next time he is pitching his company he could start by simply saying - "We make nuclear waste safe."
Using this as a starting point to talk a little science and depending on his audience go deep or stay shallow. This way he can be confident that everyone will know why he does what he does, a little of how it works and know that it helps us all.
So the main conclusion was:
Start with a focus on how the audience benefits.
Avoid too many details and know that there is always time for more information later but not as how to introduce a company or service.
Follow up with the details after an emotive intro, why, how and then what.
We all left the after dinner drinks satisfied with our collective discussion about how to directly pitch the benefits of his company and hopefully engage more investors and customers in the future.
Thank you for reading this far and please leave a comment below with any presentation related questions.
Do you need to share next steps?
Do you need to highlight savings?
Do you need to identify the hook of the message?
Then please use these ten free hand sketched icons to help you communicate smoother and be more visual in your future presentations.
If you work in English as a second language then having some bold visual cues and support helps to save time, smooth out communication and efficiently use your precious brain energy.
So please download, use and share these icons wherever they help you or your team effectively engage your audience and enjoy your presentations.
Please leave a comment below with actions, themes or points you need to communicate and I will sketch a new set of icons just for you.
Thank you for reading this far I appreciate your time.
The Fyre festival is making headlines at the moment for being a luxury island party weekend without much luxury and essentially not delivering on any of its promises.
I was reading an article on the Guardian newspaper website which linked me to article on VanityFair.com which discussed the miss use of KOL's and social media marketing yet what caught my eye was they included a copy of the Fyre pitch deck as an embedded slide show.
I don't know anything about luxury event organizing or KOL marketing, but I do know about pitch decks. I'm not going to be more critical toward this event for no reason, but I am going to look at some of the slides and talk about how and why I would do it differently.
The reason I think it is worthwhile looking at this deck is that a pitch deck is what sets the expectations for any project and so to not massively deliver on their proposal means something was very wrong and some of that started in the pitching phase.
Apart from a vector logo, it takes six swipes/clicks before we see any visuals and then these are a bunch of headshots so not directly linked to any event execution. These kind of mood images are necessary to help set the tone, but they need to be balanced with pictures of how the event will ultimately look so everyone involved has super clear expectations. It's easy to argue that this is not what this deck needs, but the results of the festival prove otherwise.
Solution - have one slide in the first 3 with one fantastic image and an easy to understand statement that sets the direction with no room for error or misunderstanding.
"Join us at the best Fyre in 2017"
Similar to the lack of concrete imagery the content makes vague and overused statements about redefining, seeking meaningful connections, disrupting and engaging cohorts. These words without images or a tangible follow-up start to sound very hollow and meaningless. Exciting words that paint pictures in people's minds are super useful, but a ton of marketing jargon on a handful of slides doesn't add up to much. As often referenced Steve Jobs was great at using simple words to sell big ideas. "1000 songs in your pocket." for example is direct, daring and emotive as a claim, plus it was backed up with the first iPod so very tangible.
Solution - use buzz words and emotive language sparingly so when they are used they stand out and does not just become a blur.
"You'll be telling stories from this weekend for years to come."
The final observation I have on the Fyre deck is the use of long line length and small font size for the text copy. A presentation is not a brochure or website - it is a visual idea and needs to be easy and quick to read. Also now more than ever font size is crucial as a lot of people will take the first look on their smartphones so if the line length is too long and font size too small it becomes a struggle to read and our limited brain energy is not being used efficiently. The big issue I see is using off the shelf templates which tend to be a hybrid between a visual landscape presentation and a text based portrait brochure. For reading text from a smartphone screen or back of a boardroom, the font should be large, with good contrast and aligned left - not center aligned as we normally read left to right and need a clear visual guide to help us read quickly and easily.
Solution - Design slides with a priority to legibility and ease of communication, if need be have multiple documents, a mood video, visual teaser and a buisness plan.
These three approaches are always going to help communicate your idea quickly with as little misinterpretation as possible and set realistic expectations which mean with all the other stress of hosting a new kind of event you are at least starting out on the right foot.
Please click this link for an example of a visual pitch which got a positive reply in the three working days.
Thank you for reading this far, and I appreciate your time, if you have any comments or suggestions please leave a comment.
"Oh - did you speak recently at the 8x8 China Accelerator event in Beijing…? Yes, I know you now…"
This response was the reaction from the head of BD during a recent call as I pitched MoI. “We help people enjoy their presentations."
This reaction "Yes I know you now…" is why I introduce my company with a simple emotive pitch.
Not only does it save us both time but it also reinforces the first impression I made.
I have this straightforward introduction, so when I meet people for the second time, I can trigger in under seven seconds a super clear recall of MoI and why we do what we do.
This is the power of starting with why it gives me a truly unique and emotive framing, and so within all the daily visual and information clutter, you spend effort filtering away...I stand out.
Enjoy your presentation is not detail heavy in fact it is super simple and accessible, it puts you in the center of my solution so you can see all the benefits. It shares the emotion I want you to feel and starts a conversation about how I can help you.
"Enjoy your presentation" is proving to be a powerful way to introduce MoI and our training services, so I highly recommend you work on how to pitch your business in a super short way, which is easy to remember, shares your why and is based on emotions and results from the audience's perspective.
To help structure this try using a three beat mountain as a way to position who you help, why that matters and what the result is.
Thank you for reading this far, and if you have any questions please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer your questions.
I focus on presentation training as this is the best way to teach you the essential skills to being independently successful in your pitches and meetings.
Another part of what I do is to create presentations for people - this is an entirely different process and also very rewarding as I consult on the structure, message and ways to visualize what you are promoting and so help you generate value.
I have made presentations for leaders at Daimler, VW, Dulwich International College and Hollywood film producers, all people who were at the early stages of pitching clear messages and building great projects.
So all this to say if I could design a presentation for anyone it would be for Elon Musk, with former President Barack Obama and businessman extraordinaire Richard Branson close behind.
I admit I'm not an expert on Elon Musk - I've listened to a podcast interview, read a chapter profile and watched a YouTube Bloomberg documentary but already I think his vision for how and why we do things is fantastic. I think his achievements are massively awe-inspiring especially seeing as Tesla has recently surpassed GM as Americas most valuable car company.
So if I were to design a presentation for Elon Musk, I would start off by asking him these three questions.
Three discovery questions
#1 Who is his audience?
#2 Why is he engaging them?
#3 What is his goal?
These kick-off questions help me establish the big picture and define all the things we need to discover to make an engaging presentation.
As I listen to his answers to these three discovery questions, I would be making sketch notes on my iPad, plus recording the sessions audio on my iPhone.
I would then ask which are the emotions we need to convey. This question helps us figure out which motivational triggers to highlight and visualize.
I would ask what the most important point of his message for the audience is - what is the point that sparks all the potential, needs and risk?
I would then finish up with asking what is the audience's worldview, what are their priorities, do they think with their head or their heart? Are they senior academics and legislators or are they, potential investors or partners?
See themselves in the solution
With all these discovery questions we are thinking about what makes the audience tick - what is the insight that hooks them in, how can we relate to them quickly and how do they see themselves in the solution?
With all Elon’s insights about audience triggers combined with the desired emotions and a clear goal for the presentation, I can then write a story outline, start a visual mood board on Pinterest and sketch out some initial three beat mountains and early ideas.
I would then set up a check-in meeting where I would pitch Elon the first draft presentation and support this meeting with multiple visual formats:
This way in the first follow-up, after discovering the projects needs I can pitch a clear draft #1 and have the organized material ready to advance the conversation.
Working in this way, there is intentionally lots of room for Elon to see his idea structured in a clear visual way and understand how it is achieving his goals. I would maybe remind him that the imagery is still to be developed, but now it's crucial we are only looking at the content in the wireframe - we know pictures are needed and now we are structurally positioning them as the story develops.
After gathering all the inputs, questions and suggestions discussed I would then track the comments into an action list and then develop draft #2 of the presentation where we would design the slides with a standout look and feel. I would propose a range of design samples and options - as well as developing the presentation script in draft #2.
After confirming the draft #2 development the final phase would be to approve and lock in the slide design, each image and visual would have a selection of options per slide, so Elon is editing down and not having to come up with suggestions. As the final deck comes together and we fine tune the story beats and transitions slide by slide, I would need about an hour with Elon as we rehearse and walk through the slides making sure he has a super clear mental map of the material so he can present naturally.
Now along with a Word Doc version of the script, presenter notes, contact sheet and final PPT with a PDF Elon would be ready to go and nail his presentation.
The great thing about this process is there is a super clear roadmap in the 8 Steps to Showtime and Elon wouldn’t have to spend hours in meetings, it all starts with 20-30 minutes focused time at the discovery stage followed by scheduled 5-10 minute check-ins via Wechat and a final hour-long walk through and handover.
Efficient use of Elon's time
Elon would benefit by having a well-structured presentation which he is clear on because he was engaged in a three-step process which didn’t cost much time and created great results.
He can reuse this presentation in the future and independently fine-tune it to the audience in front of him on a case by case basis as he knows how the structure clicks together.
He can also share this presentation with senior team members who can now simultaneously start to share the same vision and idea he has consistently with no risk and so everyone stays on target.
Also, the final master document can be tweaked and then re-exported as a new presentation, expertly tuned to the audience in front of Elon and Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX.
This would be a great project to work on as I think Elon’s vision for the world are the ones we need right now and I would like to help amplify his vision.
Having an excellent well structured, visual and shareable presentation is a great tool to have in any business which is doing inspiring things.
Thank you for your time - I appreciate you reading this far and if you have any questions about presentations, please leave a comment or email me.
Every time I host an event I set up a Wechat group as a way to share the content from the talk and also stay connected with the audience and answer questions.
In China Wechat is an insanely powerful tool as it is never more than arm's reach away and if you do the battery test on the iPhone, it's always in the top three apps that people spend their battery life and attention using, so it's always good to be where the action is.
Recently Kevin in one of my presentation focused groups asked me "how long should a presentation be?" Thanks, Kevin this is a good question, it doesn’t have one simple answer but let me share the structure and approach I use.
As with all things presentation related it all comes down to your audience your goals and why you are engaging people with your ideas.
There isn’t a single answer, but there are some structures and frameworks you can apply, to decide how long a presentation should be, always ask yourself:
Time is the one asset we all have the same amount of each day, and it all comes down to what we do with it that counts. Knowing how long you have with the audience allows you to structure the content in the most suitable way to make sure your audience appreciates their time with you.
As a rule of thumb, I use the following six structures A - F as a framework to engage with people.
A) 7 seconds
B) 10-40 seconds
C) 1-2 minutes
D) 3-8 minutes
E) 10-25 minutes
F) 25-50 minutes
These six structures range from super quick pitch introductions at networking to longer format presentations at conferences and events.
A) 7 seconds at a networking event is a great duration to say hello and introduce yourself sharing why you do what you do which then leads to a conversation.
B) 10-40 seconds is good for a short elevator pitch which avoids too many details but gives people enough information to have a clear understanding and retain something memorable from your exchange.
C) 1-2 minutes for an introduction to a project, product or service where you can highlight who you help, why that matters and some wow reveal that is memorable for the audience in front of you.
D) 3-8 minutes to share a topic and one short story which goes into more detail and starts to establish your expert status and insights but does not overload people with correct but non-essential details and facts.
E) 10-25 minutes for sharing up to three different stories which clearly define a deep understanding of an industry or issue and provides context and understanding along with well-structured data.
F) 25-50 minutes for captivating and entertaining an audience and informing them with your unique skills and establishing expert status, in-depth knowledge, key insights and background information which is relevant.
Any more than 50 minutes and people's energy levels for effectively staying focused starts to drain and your message and presentation starts to deliver diminishing returns, so the best thing to do is keep a presentation within 50 minutes or schedule in short 5 minute breaks to give everyone time to stretch and refresh.
These timeframes are of course just a guide and framework as it always comes down to addressing the audience in front of you, knowing your goals and structuring the best content to achieve these goals.
So thanks to Kevin in the Wechat group for asking the question and I hope this framework helps you structure your presentation, be more memorable and efficient as you present.
Thank you for reading this far, I appreciate your time, if you have any questions, please ask below in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them.
Mountains Of Imagination - presentation trainers and visualizers. We empower you to enjoy your future presentations and pitches. Be memorable, connect and stand-out as you engage the audience in front of you.
Please leave a comment or email me with any presentation related questions and I will do my best to answer them.
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