If you’re a start-up, chances are you are going to have to get out there and tell people about your new venture. What you say, and how you say it, is a lot more important than you may realise.
When it comes to communicating what you do, you don’t want to make a rookie error, just because your business is new. And the last place you want to miss the mark is when it comes to your pitch.
Preparing a powerful presentation is one of the best ways to communicate your start-up’s mission and vision. Deliver it well and you’ll earn a reputation as “one to watch”. Nail it, and your chances of success will increase exponentially. Using the “Power of Three” will help you to do just that.
Let’s say you’ve been invited to present at a crowdfunding event. This is a golden opportunity to shine in front of an audience of key influencers. Get it right, and you are on the road to funding your start-up. Get it wrong, and, well… you may not get another opportunity.
Start your presentation with the end in mind
Deciding what to include in your presentation is crucial. There may be a hundred things you want this audience to know, but you have to be realistic – you can only say so much. Besides, they don’t need to know every detail about you, your partners, or your business.
For your presentation to be successful, it really helps to “start with the end in mind”. What must your audience know before they leave? This will enable you to narrow down the “hundred random things” to a handful of key points.
In identifying which elements are key, you will want to consider answering questions such as:
- What is your product or service?
- Are you already trading, or still in development?
- What expertise do you bring to the table?
- Do you have any competitors?
- What makes your start-up unique?
- How much money are you looking to raise?
- How do you propose to get it?
Work out which are the most important points
Once you have got this down on paper – and I do recommend you start on paper – it’s time to decide which points are the most important. You may have five or six things, but there may be some overlap.
Work hard to narrow it down, perhaps by grouping related items. Then, decide which are the three most important elements. Be ruthless. These three points will form the body of your presentation.
This is where the “power of three” comes in. It’s the reason there are three wise men, three little pigs, and three Musketeers!
Three seems to be the perfect number of items of new information to take in. With your three most important points clearly identified, it’s time to start to construct your presentation.
Use the ‘Power of Three’ to give your pitch a fail-proof structure
The ‘power of three’ gives you a fail-proof structure. Think of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. It’s made up of three key ingredients – the filling – wrapped between two slices of bread. Those three key ingredients are the three main points that you must convey to your audience for your presentation to be a success.
When assembling your presentation “sandwich” don’t forget the bread! In our sandwich analogy, the “bread” is the introduction and conclusion, and each slice performs an important function. Together, they package your presentation in a format that your audience is familiar with.
When you are introduced, open your presentation by stating your structure. Tell your audience you have three main points, which you will deal with in turn.
Knowing what to expect, your audience will relax. Your introduction has let them know they are in safe hands.
Paint clear pictures with facts and examples
Now, tell them your first main point. Support it with facts, or examples. You may want to tell them about your product and what makes it unique. Or you may want to tell the story of how you came to be in this business.
Then, transition to your second main point. For a start-up, it may be your understanding of a gap in the market that your product or service is poised to exploit. Detail this to provide support for your point. Consider sharing an anecdote which is related to this point.
Once you have done this, transition to your third and final point. Remember, you have to support each point with logic and examples. If you are speaking at a crowd-funding event, your third point may be your opportunity to make a compelling case for investment.
With you final point communicated, it’s time for your ‘other slice of bread’ – your conclusion.
The best way to wrap up your presentation – both literally, and figuratively – is to use a tried and tested format. Signal to your audience that you are wrapping up by saying, “In conclusion. . .” and then repeat your three key points, briefly.
Make sure you issue a ‘call to action’ to your audience
If you are hoping that your audience takes some action based on your presentation, don’t leave the final step to chance. Ensure that before you conclude, you issue a ‘call to action’: tell your audience what you want them to do.
Whether it’s to sign up for your newsletter, or visit your facility for a VIP tour – make it clear what their next step should be. And make it easy for them to comply.
If you want their contact details, collect business cards at the door. If you want them to visit your site, hand out invitations.
Either way, ending with a call to action will ensure that your audience not only leaves with a sense of what your start-up is about, but importantly, what they should do with the information they have acquired.
When a business pitch is crucial to the success of your business, you can rely on the “power of three” because it gives your presentation a structure that is robust and flexible.
You can adapt this formula for a presentation of any duration. Just select your three main points – whatever “fillings” you fancy – and wrap your contents in the two metaphorical “slices of bread” that are your introduction and conclusion. Whatever you want to say, the power of three will ensure you say it well.
About the author
This guide has been written for ByteStart by Laura Bruce who is a member of Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland. To find your local club: Toastmasters.org.uk
More help winning pitches and presentations
For more tips on creating winning pitches and persuasive presentations, read these other ByteStart guides;