Austin Short

Less is more when it comes to business pitches

This class has given us a lot of experience researching data and considering sides of business that people on the outside looking in would never consider. But another important aspect of the startup business process is the ability to give a great presentation, which we have practiced a few times throughout this semester. The presentation can mean life and death for some companies who desperately need investors, so it’s an invaluable tool to master.

Luckily for us, we already have the ability to do one thing that can be a major difference maker between a mediocre business pitch and a great one: the ability to tell a great story. All of the journalism students in this class have been painting great stories for others to see for years now. It may be through a different medium, but the core of that skill is within each and every one of us.

All of the readings and videos we looked at this week mentioned in one way or another, how the art of great storytelling can greatly add to the lure of a product. Like Neil Patel’s piece said, “Investors are bored with spreadsheets, valuations and numbers. If they want that information, they can get it. What you can offer that no term sheet can convey is the story and pathos behind your startup. Everyone loves a good story, even the most data-driven investor.”

I think this was very evident in the videos, too. The most captivating Ted Talks always feature very well spoken presenters who have a very precise plan. The precision of their talks is another important factor in their presentations. It’s obvious that they don’t just go up there and wing it. It may change from one time to another, but only marginally. Being prepared to present on a stage like that, or even smaller, can be nerve racking. One way to feel better about yourself is to be well prepared, which is another common tip.

Another suggestion that I liked a lot was basically a tip that I had heard from my experience playing sports. It’s called K.Y.P. — know your personnel. This basically means you need to put your team in situations where they can thrive and it can definitely be applied to making group presentations. If you have a person that is good with the numbers portion of your data that’s what they should present. If you have a person that is especially charismatic they should be the one to do the storytelling.

When it comes to my ability to present I feel pretty comfortable with it. Nerves are normal for me but I don’t let it overwhelm me. I think something I have learned to avoid is swaying back and forth, which is something I am still working on perfecting. I also often feel like I don’t know what to do with my hands! I feel like Ricky Bobby out there. But I think a strength of mine would be my willingness to make eye contact with the audience when I’m presenting. I’m excited to work on our final pitches and to see how well we can get at effectively telling the story of our idea.






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