Posts Tagged ‘presenting’

Pitch Perfect – Tuning the Perfect Pitch

July 27, 2012

I was delighted to be asked to present at this year’s Venturefest in Oxford a couple of weeks ago.

Venturefest is a networking event held annually and focused on business creation. Over the day entrepreneurs seeking capital to start or grow their businesses network and give 15 minute presentations to an audience of investors – both venture capital companies and high net worth individuals actively seeking to invest. I was asked to give some guidance on pitching:

Some Dos:

Plan and prepare your pitch with the audience in mind – put yourself in their shoes: they are thinking “What’s in it For Me.” Point out what they get (rather than what you’re looking for!)

Structure your presentation well:

  • Overture (Many operas and symphonies begin with an attention grabbing start.) Open with a statement that motivates the audience to keep listening. (An overture to an opera includes snippets from the work that is to follow.) Share with your audience what’s coming up.
    (The content of the main body of your pitch will vary but may include “Finances, Competitors and Marketing Plan”) Suggest 3 “Acts”  (but no more than 5.)
    • Act 1
    • Act 2
    • Act 3
  • Finale (Reprise your main points)
Rehearse (Practice makes Perfect) A musician would never dream of going into a performance without rehearsing.
Create visual aids that are VISUAL (i.e have images, charts and graphs) and aid the audience understand the points you make.
Rehearse again.
Smarten up your appearance. Polish your shoes, do up your flies, if wearing one, tie your tie correctly, check your hair, remove dangly jewellery – remove distractions.
During your performance SMILE and make eye-conact with your audience.

Some Don’ts:

  • Read to your audience
  • Use PowerPoint as an auto-cue
  • Be “I” focussed. Too many pitches begin “I want…” “I am looking for…” ” I am seeking £45,000…” etc.
  • “Wing it”

Going Viral

July 19, 2012

Big Society Video Ken NormanLast year I had spectacular success using Social Media to highlight a concern at Chipping Norton Lido where I was a trustee. I made a four-minute long video detailing my experience of and reservations about “The Big Society” which I posted to YouTube. I then used my “Twitter” account to promote it.

One Friday afternoon I cleaned and tidied my office, positioned my web cam to achieve an “interesting” angle (i.e. not square-on to the computer screen) and spoke (in a one take) into the lens. To keep me on track I had some cues on post-it notes stuck up round the camera and on my desk (you can see me glance at them every now and then.) Using Apple’s “i-movie” I edited out the odd pause and added photos to illustrate the key points I was making (and to mask any really obvious stumbles over my lines!) Using the superbly simple apple mac software, I added titles and some intro music, and within an sixty-minutes I had uploaded the edited video onto YouTube.

I sent out a few tweets during the day  (generating 25 or so views from my own followers) and rescheduling the tweet (using Hootsuite)over the next 24 hours generated another 200 views.  It was truly exiting to see more and more people re-tweeting (or RT-ing) and watching the video over that weekend. By Monday I’d had 650 views and I thought it’d be good fun if I reached 1,600 views (the significance of this number we become clear if you watch the film!)

I then unwittingly  unleashed the extraordinary reach of Twitter. I simply used Twitter’s “search” facility to find other folk who had tweeted on “The Big Society”

I noticed tweets by Sunday Times journalist, India Knight, Dr Ben Goldacre and comedian Marcus Brigstocke all articulating their concerns (i.e. having a go) about Mr Cameron’s ideology. I replied to their tweets and in my reply included a link to my own little rant. “Brilliant point there Marcus! Have you seen this vid about The Big Society http://link.” These three wonderful people retweeted the link (they have 200,000 followers between them) and within two weeks my video had been viewed 9,000 times. India Knight said, “Watch Mr Angry of Chipping Norton make a fair point about The Big Society”. One of Iher followers was Alan Rusbridger (The Guardian’s Editor ) and he retweeted, “Watch this strangely compelling video” to his own 40,000 followers.

The results were astounding.

Marcus Brigstocke Twitter Feed

Marcus Brigstocke’s Twitter Feed

The video has now been seen by  12,600 people. The virility of the video also meant that it made page 1 of Google for the search term “Big Society” and that meant that I was bombarded with enquiries from journalists, researchers and the like. I’ve raised £1,250 of sponsorship from many who followed the link to my everyclick fundraising page included in the YouTube video. Mind you I had to run the Great North Run into the bargain.

Some people  pointed me to funding streams that proved useful, others just sent good wishes and moral support. As for The Lido we’ve had interviews with the Banbury Guardian, The Daily Mirror, The New York Times, BBC Radio 5 Live and The Guardian. Jeremy Clarkson wrote about us in his Sunday Times column one weekend. French Canadian Radio Television included in their film (due to be broadcast this September) The Lido as an example of The Big Society in action. All marvellous profile.

So, based on what I learned, here are my top tips for making and promoting a YouTube Video?

  • Plan and rehearse what you want to say
  • Include a call to action
  • Prepare to be contentious
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • Be passionate and animated when speaking to camera
  • Use post-it notes as key word cues
  • Don’t worry about the odd verbal slip-up (I appear unable to say the word “thousand!”)
  • Set up the camera and room to look interesting
  • Add pictures, titles and music if possible
  • Add tags and links to the video description
  • Respond to comments
  • Tweet about it
  • Schedule different tweets at different times of the day
  • Identify others with an interest in your subject
  • Tweet them and ask for their view.
  • Be prepared to defend your view.
  • Thank people for their advice, views and/or recommendations.

If you’d like help constructing a video presentation, help with filming or editing – just give me a call on 0845 003 8175.

Presenting is Distraction Management

March 2, 2012


I once ran a presentation skills course for The National Trust  on which one of my delegates was a forestry warden. In the presentation that he delivered he described forestry as being about “light management.” That phrase made me think about presenting in a different way. When you stand up to present – what is it that you have to manage?

Distraction… Presenting (it dawned on me) is about “distraction management.”

There are a myriad of ways in which your audience can be distracted.  Your role as a presenter or speaker is to limit the potential for these distractions to steal your audience’s attention away from you. Some distractions may be outside a speaker’s control but many are, unwittingly, caused by the speaker. Here then are the main distractions of which speakers and presenters fall foul.

1. Not being introduced or not introducing yourself properly. When people in an audience sit down they have many unanswered questions flying around their brain – one of which is, “Who is this?” and ” Why are they qualified to speak to me?” It’s an excellent idea to tell the audience your name (don’t just rely on PowerPoint or the printed programme) – most people don’t bother reading it. Qualify your experience in a short sentence or two. Don’t brag (I once saw a presenter who used PowerPoint to animate his qualifications  – one at a time –  after his name. This didn’t endear him to the audience. So, something along the lines of, “Well hello, Ladies & Gentlemen. Thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. My name is Roger Faraday and I have been practising employment law for the last 30 years…” If someone else is to introduce you – supply them with a script! (Otherwise they might say something that undermines you or what you have to say.) NEVER apologise for being the speaker: “I’m really not used to speaking in public…” or, “Our Managing Director has been called away on urgent business, so I’m afraid you’ve got me….”  are not phrases that an audience warms to and are ultimate distractions!

2. The audience not understanding, “what’s in it for them.” If someone in the audience doesn’t think the presentation you are about to give offers them something worth staying awake for, they’ll go to sleep. Not necessarily with their eyes shut but, they’ll be away with the fairies, day-dreaming about something more important. Early on in your presentation you need to motivate your audience to stay alert. Tell them what they’ll get out of your presentation. “So, by the time I’ve finished you’ll be able to….”

3. Not telling the audience for how long you’ll be speaking. People get twitchy if they don’t know when they can next go to the loo, have a fag, drink a coffee, hear the next speaker. etc. So, tell them for how long you’ll be speaking. Be specific. Nobody wants to hear, “so, in the next hour or so I’ll be covering…” or even, “Hopefully my presentation will last between fifteen and twenty minutes.” Hopefully is not a good word to use in your introduction! Having said how long you’ll be speaking for make sure you finish when you said you would (see number 8*.)

4. Typos in PowerPoint. Some people are incensed by spelling mistakes and other errors on your slides. For them this is a huge distraction and the only thing they’ll remember.

Flying low – distracting

5. Wardrobe malfunctions. If your flies are undone, or if your skirt is tucked ion your knickers, it’s very doubtful that many of your audience will hear much of what you say. Other wardrobe distractions include: dirty shoes; holes in the soles of your shoes;bulges in pockets; creased trousers/jackets; clashing colours; flamboyant ties; trailing threads; ties tied to the wrong length (see my blog The Tie as a Giant Arrow to discover the correct length); frayed cuffs; dangly, jangly jewellery. In a similar vein there’s unkempt hair (especially if there’s a bit sticking up) which can keep an audience fascinated for the duration of your talk.

6. The Gestalt Effect.  This is all about the little things that can visually annoy the hell out of people: crooked pictures on the wall; torn curtains on a stage; your slide show not being square (or worse still – spilling over the screen.) Before you start have a good look around and have a tidy up!

7. Other PowerPoint faux pas  We’ve looked at typos but there are a host of other ways in which PowerPoint can distract your audience:

  • too many words (20 a slide should do it)
  • slide numbers (it’s not good for an audience to read  “Slide 4 of 89” fifteen minutes into your twenty-minute presentation
  • being read to (audiences hate this and will hate you to if you turn your back to them and read what they can read for themselves
  • the phrase “as you can see” when they clearly can’t
  • the phrase “don’t bother reading that” – they’ll wonder why you couldn’t be bothered to edit it
  • animations for animation’s sake (especially when accompanied by the sound effects of type-writers or screeching tires.)

8. *Overrunning This drives an audience around the bend. Unless you’re Lee Evans, Ken Dodd or Billy Connelly, and the room is full of your adoring fans, they’d rather you finished on time. Honestly. Finish early and they’ll love you!

9. Fiddling It’s not a good idea to play with your jewellery; jangle the keys or coins in your pocket; keep pushing your sleeves up; twiddling your hair; scratching etc. You get the picture.

So, before you take to the stage, or the front of a boardroom, or even making a video for YouTube think about how you’re going to keep your audience’s attention and do all that you can to minimise any distractions.

In the meantime please share any stories about the ways in which speakers have distracted you? I’d love to hear about them!