I’ve been coaching folks on how to present at conferences for almost 10 years. Among the amazing people I’ve had the honor of giving feedback to—on their launch—include: Dropbox (now worth $10b), Mint (sold to Intuit for $170m), Yammer (sold to Microsoft $1b+), Clicker (sold to CNET/CBS for $100m), Powerset (sold to Microsoft for $100m), Red Beacon (won best overall at the LAUNCH Festival, sold to Home Depot), Brilliant.org (I’m an investor, they won best 2.0), Boxbee (I’m an angel investor, they won best overall), AdStage (I’m an angel investor, they won best b2b) and countless others.
I’ve got a small set of rules on how to present well. Here they are:
1. Show the product in the first 15 seconds. A demo is worth 1 million words, and the people who have great products show them. If you don’t show your product we assume it’s because your product is bad.
2. Show don’t tell: Instead of telling us what your product does, show us. Have an awesome ‘driver’ giving your presentation and just walk us through how it works.
If you were demoing Uber here is what you would say:
3. Synchronicity: What’s happening on the screen must match what you’re saying. So, if you want to go off on a tangent about a topic related to your product — which is allowed — make sure you have something on the screen. In the case of demoing Uber, here is what might happen.
4. Examples matter: Always give amazing examples that demonstrate your product’s value. In the example above I use the example of having too much to drink with a client and getting in an Uber during the chaos in the parking lot. Why this example? Well, we can all relate to it. We’ve all taken clients out, we’ve all had more than two glasses of wine, and we all know the madness of getting out of a sporting event.
The examples we give help folks understand our product’s value proposition. It’s up to us — as founders — to make people understand our products. If you use fake examples, or worse, fictional characters and locations, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to get folks to understand how your product might help them. Don’t use Micky Mouse and Gotham City in your presentations.
There are a ton of smaller points I can get into, but I will save that for another blog post since this one is way over my 600-word count limit of my “blog post a day in 2015" challenge.
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