Last year I was on an expert panel of 6 judges at an important European entrepreneur pitch competition. Less than 10 seconds into the first investor pitch, my mind had already wandered off and I began pondering something else. “Pity”, I thought. “This entrepreneur is probably as smart as Einstein, but with the boring way he is speaking, his pitch is going absolutely nowhere”. I glanced down the table at the other expert investors and confirmed my conclusion. They were all looking dully distracted, glancing at their phones or asleep with eyes open. Sure enough, when the 5-minute investor pitch droned to a monotone and flat ending, the applause was meagre and the questions from the panel were polite but noncommittal. In my opinion, nothing is worse than polite. What a nightmare being perceived as boring. I either want people to rave their approval or shout in disagreement, but never just respond with politeness. In defence of the young entrepreneur, he had some good points. He probably had a relatively interesting value proposal for his market, but the lacklustre manner in which he started speaking never caught my attention. And once I was asleep, it would have taken the Swedish Bikini Team to regain my interest.
Why do some people instantly put us to sleep while others cause us to sit up, riveted to our seats and pay close attention? Why is it that we instantly like some people, but rapidly dislike or even loath others? Is it the way they look, the words they say or the tone of their voice that creates your first impressions? Can we separate one aspect from another?
If you are an entrepreneur, then you MUST learn how to pitch.If you are a business leader or anyone trying to influence others, then you must be able to deliver a short, clear and impactful message. If you ever expect to have influence, then learn how to pitch. It’s not something nice to have. It’s an essential skill you need to master. Most entrepreneurs neglect this. Most business people never bother to learn. But life is too short. Just don’t be boring.
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Rick Salmon (Founder – Voiceable)