Nov 142016
The 3 problems in your pitch

Too many pitches are boring. Boring pitches are the weak link in Startup communication. I applaud anyone who listens to pitches full time. They’ve got to have a special talent for staying awake. I attend all kinds of startup Pitching Events, from competitions, to demo days and investor pitching sessions and, even though I train people to pitch well,  I sometimes have an irresistible urge to …

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Oct 072015
Startup stress, Spinoff stress, and Non-profit stress

There’s a huge oppressive black communications cloud hanging over many organizations. Managers, employees, volunteers, even leaders are being smothered by this cloud. It’s the communications cloud of “I know I have to say something, but I have no idea how to say it!” One of my clients gave me this metaphor of a black cloud when she was explaining how much stress she felt about …

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Mar 162015
The tweet, the TED talk and the idea bomb

The latest nearby TEDx conference happened a couple of days ago. I was fortunate to be a presentation coach for several of the speakers, so I watched a lot of the rehearsing as well as the main event. TED-style talks are an immense challenge, both for the speaker and for the people who support that speaker. Many variables come into play, some of which may be unexpected for people who only know the …

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Sep 222014
Why I hate the elevator pitch… and why you should too.

A magazine recently quoted me saying, “I hate the term ‘elevator pitch.’” That’s not entirely true. I actually hate elevator pitches themselves. Here’s why. One size fits all Elevator pitches are based on the principle that, if you’ve worked out one 1-3 minute speech, you can tell it to everyone. That’s just wrong. I certainly hope that, when you talk to the person …

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Jul 312014
Conquer your presentation nerves

Probably the most important presentation skill is knowing what to do when you are nervous. Here are two things that will help you with your nerves when giving a presentation: Having a well-structured presentation Rehearsing and planning for the event itself. Structure Besides being a great help in communication, the structure of your presentation is the map that shows you where you are …

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Jul 112014
Presentation Slideshows Part 2

An introduction to making professional PowerPoint slides. It is well known that humans can only process around 5 to 7 pieces of information at a time. More than that and we start getting confused. (See, for example, Cowan, The magical number 4 in short-term memory) Let me make one thing clear. When it comes to presentations, we never ever want to make people confused. Look at a typical business …

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Jun 172014
Pitchology: 3 quick business pitches

What do you say when someone asks you what you do? What do you say when you need to sell something? What do you say when you want to tell someone about your great idea? Pitching and catching We give business pitches for any number of reasons: to increase our network, to get new customers, to generate investment in our products and companies. In baseball, every pitch is thrown to somebody: …

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May 192014
3 presentation problems, and 1 solution

The biggest presentation problem The biggest problem with most presentations isn’t that the slides are lackluster. It’s not that the message is missing (though, that’s a close second,) or that the presenter lacks confidence. No, the biggest problem with presentations is that, too often, they lack a clear structure.  You know the kind: someone walks in, starts talking, shows a bunch of slides, …

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Apr 292014
Secret Presentation Skills

Why are some presentations great and others horribly boring? There are two presentation skills that separate great presenters from the rest of us: They always have a goal. They make certain that every presentation has a point. The goal could be a company goal, like more sales, generating investment, or making the working environment better. It could be personal, like being seen as …

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Mar 282014
Presentation Slideshows Part 1

The Function of Powerpoint Slides When I give workshops on using slides in presentations, I bring two famous children’s books as examples of two kinds of illustration: literal and explanatory. First, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. As you might imagine, it’s a book about food. The beautiful pictures are all very direct: when the text mentions cheese, there’s a picture of cheese, …

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