The perfect pitch: Tips from Silicon Valley!

Update from Sindre Punsvik

Sindre PunsvikIt’s time for an update from this side of the world. July was wonderful filled with sunshine, exploration of the city, engaging work, and good times with nice people. Today I’ll focus on an inspiring visit we did to Type-A Machine, and some of the presentation tip & tricks we’ve learned in class here.

A good chunk of the people of this program decided to join the voluntarily visit that Gründerskolen arranged for us to get to know Type-A Machine and their work better. Before going there I have to admit I didn’t have high expectation, but learning about their story was truly inspiring. It included a romantic history about how Espen one of the founders of the company met his future wife on a flight to San Francisco, how they eventually ended up starting a company making 3D-printers, and now have helped turned an old Chrysler plant into a thriving hub for 3D-printing. I also was awed at some of the possibilities of 3D-printing that we were presented and made possible when they can control the inner structure of an object. We were also shown how it’s possible to use your phone to 3D scan an object (123Dcatch). The day ended with pizza, mingling with Mexicans on a similar program as ours, and a most horrible fire alarm that forced us to flee the premises.

Throughout the program, we have schoolwork to do as well as interning. For our biggest task we’re divided into groups and will try to fix a business plan for a potential start-up, this include presenting the plan. Our Norwegian professor Tormod has done a great job of making a good environment for us to practice our presentation skills and given us a lot of tips in this regard. He even took his time to give each and every one of us who talked about their project, some pointers about how we could improve ourselves. I’ve tried to take down some notes and after looking over them here are three major take-aways that I would like to share:

1. Connect with your audience:

Before the presentation you should know who you’ll talk to so you can figure out some way to show them why the story you’ll tell them matters to them. When you start the presentation, you can ask the audience a question about how they are doing to show that you care about them. During the presentation try to keep an open body language, and make sure to establish eye contact with the people listening to you. If people have questions after or during your presentation, acknowledge them and the people asking, and make sure to get defensive.

2. Practice make perfect:

To be able to give a good you need to prepare yourself, it will not magically just happen. It can be smart to plan some key aspects that you know has to be presented to the audience, rather than working up a long script that can end up tying yourself down, making it easier to stumble. When you roughly know what you should say, you should start practicing. Take a look of yourself in the mirror, or tape yourself, and take note of how you use your body and tone to convey the meaning. Let others listen to you, see if they’ll get your point and ask them for advice for how to improve yourself, practicing in front of others also has the added effect that you’ll get used to it. Sometimes you’ll present something as a group, then everybody should know when and what to say, and be ready to catch the ball when it’s passed to you.

3. Use every tool at your disposition:

Use whatever means you can to make sure the story is coming through. Be aware of how the tone in your voice or a well-placed pause can really drive in a statement. Start and end with a bang that catches the audience’s attention. When using slides of pictures, it might be meaningful to make it all messy and colorful because then the audience is less likely to fall asleep while they try to decipher what’s going on.

To be able to do this is challenging, but as Tormod said, “Your work when you’re up there isn’t to be in your comfort zone, but to communicate with the audience”. In the world of start-ups, a good pitch can easily be the difference between millions of dollars, so we better start practicing this.

De andre blogginnleggene fra Gründerskolen 2016 finner du her.

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