Remember the British comedy television series Mind Your Language? For those of you who aren't familiar with the sitcom, it's set in an adult college in London and focuses on English as a foreign language. It cleverly depicts how tricky English can be! Through the characters, each of a different nationality, it highlights various connotations of the same thing said by two different people. The problem lies in pronunciation and enunciation-two critical components to effectively deliver your message.
I've attended several business plan competitions where startups battle it out for the coveted cash prize, free software, and access to high-profile mentors, apart from sheer visibility. While some ideas are better than the others, however, only those businesses and entrepreneurs stand out when the speaker of the presentation manages to grab the attention of the audiences. More often than not, I've seen entrepreneurs fail with the latter either because of badly made PowerPoint presentations, poor presentation skills of entrepreneurs, and incorrect body language.
Here are a few tips from conversations with experienced executives, seasoned entrepreneurs and my observations, which will help you represent your company in a positive light:
Your PowerPoint presentation slides:
Remember, you do not have more than five minutes to present your business idea, especially at large gatherings. So:
• Keep your slides short, crisp and clutter-free
• Focus on your core idea and how it solves the problem for a customer
• The font size of the text on slides should not be more than 30-40 points. (Anything larger will only hit the audience on their faces!)
• Don't have more than two numbers on a slide-too many statistics, revenue projections, figures will only confuse the audience.
• Too many of bullet points are an overkill
• Text colours - don't use all the colours in a rainbow. You aren't talking to toddlers plus it's a distraction
• If you want to focus on numbers, make sure the text isn't more than a couple of words. (Keep some detail for the talking you'll be doing!)
• Focus on the story flow (i.e. the problem)-who, what, where, and how will you solve it?
• Position in the present - Often entrepreneurs get carried away with futuristic bets of their idea. In the bargain, they stray away from talking about the current novelty of the business. A big market is not good enough to capture market share-so it's imperative your presentation highlights your position in the market, as a subset of the same. Also, your potential market can currently be local only and that's fine
Your presentation style:
• No sound effects please-too many 'Aaahhhhh!' is an absolute no-no
• Well-timed humour works well (don't overdo it either)
• Don't start with a long story. Quickly get down to business!
• Face the audience, not your slides. You are here to engage with people, turning your back towards them won't help
• Don't fold your arms. It shows a reserved, closed person. Be open, stretch out your arms as it shows an accepting nature
• Don't prove the experts wrong. They are judging your business for a reason. So be open and take feedback positively. Winning an argument on stage doesn't make you wiser or smarter
• Speak slowly and clearly
• Use pictures to depict your idea or thoughts
So, dear entrepreneurs, I hope you will mind your P's and Q's before you present your fabulous business idea to the world. A few small things can help bring the big picture together, well-timed and well-framed. Don't forget-Enunciate! Enunciate! Enunciate!