Imagine this scenario. You’re in a meeting with a major potential customer.
And this one customer can make or break your business. You have to win this deal or your business is going to fail.
Or imagine this scenario. You’re raising money.
The potential investor seems really excited about you and your company. And this meeting will likely determine your fate.
Or imagine this scenario. You’re recruiting a really talented potential new employee. The potential new employee has asked you to present your plan.
Are you ready? Because you only have seven quick seconds to win or lose the deal, get the funding, or hire the really talented employee.
That’s it, seven quick seconds. You may have even less time if you’re pitching to investors.
People make buying decisions very quickly. Then they spend the rest of their time with you justifying their decisions.
So what can you do to grab your audience’s attention in less than seven seconds?
I introduced my brother to a friend who could be a potential client last week. My friend called me yesterday and said he was going to work with my brother.
Here’s what my friend said about his meeting with my brother, “He explained what was going on so simply. It was like I was in the first grade.”
You are more likely to succeed the simpler you make your product and your business to understand for customers, investors, and potential employees.
It seems backwards, doesn’t it? Your product needs to be complex for others to truly value it, right?
This is the trap that too many people fall into. You end up losing your audience when you try and show how smart you are.
Introducing the concept of elegant design.
I’ve been working with an entrepreneur for the past few months. He’s preparing to launch his new technology company this summer.
I asked him to explain to me how his product worked. The idea he has is so simple, yet it is incredibly powerful.
I am not a technical expert in what his business will do. However the power of his idea was easy to understand.
That’s elegant design. Elegant is not hard to understand and maybe powerful. Elegant is simple to understand and powerful.
And that’s what your goal should be when you explain your business.
Just like my brother or the entrepreneur I am working with the goal is keeping it simple.
You can start by following this three-step process:
A. Simplify your presentation.
The less technical, the better. One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is overcomplicating their business.
The goal isn’t showing your audience how smart you are. The goal is showing your audience how obvious it is that your product and your business is the right choice.
The way you do this is by making your product and business easy to understand. Then you are ready for step two…
B. Pitch to a close friend or relative.
Make sure they are not in your industry and preferably are not technical. Then go through your pitch except only show them your first slide.
That’s right. Only show them your first slide.
All the important information you need to convince an investor, a customer, or a potential employee to invest, buy, or work with you should be conveyed in that first slide:
- What does your product or business do?
- Why are you 10X to 100X better than your competitors?
- How big is the market opportunity you are addressing?
C. See if your audience gets how you are unique and differentiated in seven seconds or less.
Finish going through your first slide. It should take about two minutes or so.
Then ask your audience those three important questions:
- What does my product or business do?
- Do you think we are better than the competition? And by how much?
- How big is the market opportunity we are addressing?
You know you’ve nailed it when your audience can answer those questions correctly. You’re going to have to keep working on your messaging until you pass this crucial test.
Why is the first slide so important?
The majority of your audience is going to make up their minds based on their initial impressions. So that first slide, those first moments, are the difference between success and failure.
In other words, your first slide has to do all the heavy lifting. You’re going to win over your audience right there if you get this right.
The rest of your presentation is important too. However, the rest of your presentation just gives your audience more details to support their decision.
Remember this: Tell them what you’re going to say. Say it. And then say it again.
Tell them what you are going to say.
This is your first slide: the slide that does the heavy lifting.
This is the body of your presentation. You put the facts and data supporting your first slide in this part of the presentation.
Here you will go into more detail to:
- Justify the market size
- Explain your go to market strategy
- Go into more detail about your technology in layman’s terms
- Explain who you are competing with and how you’re different in a meaningful way to your customers(there’s always competition)
- Show why you’re the right team to solve this problem
- Explain your financials
You can do this in about 7 slides. That’s not bad.
Then say it again.
This is your conclusion. You are summing up what you previously said.
Warning: Getting your first slide right is going to take time and many iterations.
Maybe when you start your messaging might not be perfect. Or you may think your messaging is spot-on only to find out that you still need to work on it.
In my case, I don’t think we really nailed this for well over a year. In fact, we may not have really nailed our messaging until we were raising our second round of funding, but…
The difference is night and day when you get it right!
You could just see the instantaneous understanding, acceptance, and (most importantly) excitement regarding what we were doing. The typical responses were:
“Oh wow. This is really cool!”
“I get it!”
“You guys are in a great position to win!”
Don’t get discouraged. Just keep working to get better.
The reality is making your business easy to understand usually takes a lot of work. In fact, you may work on it for months only to realize that you’re not there yet.
Again, that’s okay. You should be constantly working to improve your messaging, so it keeps getting easier for your audience to understand.
And just like in our case, you’ll know you have your messaging right when your audience is responding with “Oh wow!” “I get it!” and “You guys are in a great position to win.”
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By Brett J. Fox