One of the biggest challenges you face as a start-up is getting your name out there. However, even if people hear your name, unless they know what makes your business unique, they are unlikely to choose you over a competitor. Help someone understand how you can solve their problem, however, and you’re in with a chance of becoming their preferred supplier.
One of the best ways to grow awareness is to share your industry-specific knowledge. Information you take for granted can be very valuable to people in other industries . . . but only if they are made aware of it.
By sharing what you know, you not only help others to improve their business, you can simultaneously position yourself as the ‘go-to’ person in your industry, and turbo-charge your start-up.
Let’s say you work in IT, and you’ve just returned from a conference. One of the sessions you attended addressed cyber-security, and you picked up some information about a new tool to better protect servers from hackers.
Share your experience to build your standing
For you and your colleagues, this information may be common knowledge. You read about it a few months ago, and knew it was coming. However, it holds the potential to save your clients and potential clients hundreds of thousands of pounds by protecting their systems from hacking.
By sharing your insights on this topic with this audience, you automatically position yourself as an authority in this area. You may generate some business right then and there. Or you may be filed away as “someone to contact in the future.” Either way, you’ve taken the first, important step in differentiating your start-up from your competitors.
How to build your profile and industry authority
One of the best ways to share information is to deliver a presentation to a live audience. Making a presentation has the advantage of giving you a forum to meet with potential clients, and for them to get to know you.
Follow these steps to develop a structured and helpful presentation — and get traction for your start-up;
1. Find a news-worthy topic
First of all, decide on a topic that’s news-worthy. Look for something that may not be on everyone’s radar, but should be! Information that can help businesses to save time or money is at the top of most people’s lists and will help generate interest.
2. Decide on the best audience
Decide who would be the best audience for your news. Identifying the most appropriate audience for your information will help you create a successful and worthwhile presentation. A good tip is to think about where your best potential clients may be, and what their biggest fears are.
3. Work out how the audience will benefit
Before you begin to decide what to communicate, consider how your audience will benefit from what you propose to tell them. Understanding how your audience is motivated will help you craft a message that appeals to them.
A group of accountants will be motivated very differently than an audience of freelance journalists. Find a way to tailor what you say so that your information is clearly relevant to them and the work they do every day. If not, they are unlikely to listen closely.
4. Find a forum to share your news
Look for a forum to share your news. Is there an opportunity to piggy-back onto an event that is already in the diary, or do you need to create a event to share your news? Speaking to local industry association may reveal an upcoming event that is a good fit.
See if you can get a slot at a business networking event or trade show. Find out exactly how long you’ll be expected to speak for. If you’re a beginner speaker, try to avoid speaking for longer than 20 minutes. You may struggle to learn your presentation.
Once you have a slot to speak at, tailor what you will say to the amount of time you have been allocated. Let’s say you’ve been given a 10-minute slot. Allow a minute to your introduction, and a minute to your conclusion, six minutes for body and two minutes for a Q&A.
5. Create your presentation
Now it’s time to create your presentation. A great start would be to answer the question everyone will be thinking: “What’s in it for me?” Answer this unspoken question early in your presentation, and capture your audience’s attention from the start. Statistics can be a good opener, as can a question that is relevant to your audience.
6. Decide on the 3 most important points in your presentation
Decide the three most important things your audience should learn from your presentation. Alternately, you could make your main point, and then support it with three examples or case studies. Find out how to do this successfully in; How to harness the “Power of 3” to nail your pitch. Make sure at least one point will be relevant to 100% of the attendees.
Develop your conclusion, and then – lastly – write your introduction. It may seem backward, but it’s only once you have decided on the main points of your presentation that you can write the introduction and “tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em”.
7. Practice your presentation
Write out your presentation, and speak it aloud. You will find that simply speaking your presentation out loud will reveal parts that are too wordy, or don’t flow well. Edit it and say it again until it flows smoothly. Remember, you must ‘write for the ear’ when making a presentation to a live audience.
Rehearse your presentation and ensure it is the correct duration for the time you have been allocated. Nothing is worse than running over time, so avoid this at all costs. Now practice it until you don’t need to rely on your notes. For more tips and ideas on perfecting your presentation, try these other guides;
- Perfecting your pitch: 10 Key Pitching Principles for entrepreneurs
- Using the power of body language to deliver captivating speeches and presentations
- How to deliver ‘rocking’ presentations and pitches that will captivate your audience
Sharing “breaking” industry news gives you an unparalleled opportunity to get exposure for your start-up, and differentiate you from your competitors. By making a presentation, you also develop skills that you can rely on for future presentations.
If you are nervous or unsure about speaking in public, Toastmasters is a great way to develop your presentation skills in a structured and supportive environment. Depending on the club, you may even get an opportunity to do a test-run of your presentation. It’s a super opportunity to get valuable feedback ahead of the “real thing”!
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Laura Bruce. Laura is a business communications professional, and 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 more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland and you can find your local club at Toastmasters.org.
More on starting and running your own business
ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of starting and running a small business. Check out some of our most popular guides;
- 5 things you must do when you go self employed
- 10 advantages running your business as a limited company has over being a sole trader
- How to set up a limited company
- How to choose the best online accounting software for your business
- 15 Questions to ask when hiring an accountant for your new business
Leading a business
- How to be a leader rather than a manager
- Developing your startup’s greatest asset – YOU
- The Founder’s dilemma – Managing the transformation from start-up to growth business
- Building your resilience to help you cope with the ups and downs of starting and running your own business
- Why the best leaders do less
Funding your business
- How to maximise your chances of securing a small business loan
- A Guide to ‘Alternative Finance’ – the new funding options for startups and small businesses
- Finding finance for your new business – funding advice for start-ups
- How peer-to-peer lending offers businesses a new funding option
- What to do when the bank says “NO”!
Money & Tax matters
- 10 ways small business owners can pay less tax
- Sole trader tax – a guide for start-ups and the newly self employed
- Dividend tax changes from April 2016 – A summary of the financial effects for small business owners
- ByteStart’s Guide to the main business taxes
- Corporation Tax – How to reduce your bill
Promoting your business
- Making your small business a BIG hit online – A Digital marketing guide for small business owners
- How to create business cards that make a big impression
- The “Magic 10” Tips on networking – how the experts build great networks
- A Practical guide to Content Marketing for small business owners and start-ups
- 10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media
- Which types of insurance must your business have?
- Becoming an employer – Your responsibilities when you hire staff
- Health & Safety compliance for small businesses – where do you start?
- A Guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners
- Why it’s vital you have clear ‘Terms & Conditions’ for your business