Pitch Session Evaluation: Technori Pitch Chicago (Part 2)

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Last month I attended a PechaKucha Chicago and Technori Pitch both very impressive and kudos to all who stepped onto the stage with a story to tell. Both community based, with PechaKucha more entertainment versus Technori business oriented. 

My interest was in the presentation styles, the delicacies of ‘how to say it’ and ‘get to the point’.  The following observations rely heavily on my Toastmasters evaluation protocol.

See my review and ‘takeaways’ in my PechaKucha article. 

Technori Pitch is a monthly showcase of innovative starters, showcasing what they have just launched.

Designed to be a showcase of launching startups, Technori Pitch gathers 550 people together in Chicago, every single month, to watch as five startups launch on-stage. With a production quality that far exceeds comparable events, Pitch is designed to elevate the startup showcase to a level on-par with theater experience.

October’s theme was non-profits and/or social conscious companies. Arriving a few minutes late and standing in the back while the keynote speaker, a fund manager gave her introduction about the marketplace for such investments.

Upon reviewing my notes, I began to notice a pattern:

  • Taming Your Bridge Words
  • Move Away From the Lectern
  • Graphics/Images Connect with Your Ideas
  • The “Ask”

Ah, Oh, and Um–Taming Your Bridge Words

The keynote presenter was highly educated. However, I somehow sensed that she might have been called upon at the last minute to participate and lacked adequate rehearsal/practice. And, her use of bridge or filler words (“so”, “um”, “ah”) was extensive.

Move Away From the Lectern

Chase Auditorium, where Technori Pitch is held, has a lectern on stage; which might be a permanent fixture. Recalling it was in the same place during a taping of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” show last year. This lectern or podium was an anchor for most of the presenters throughout the Technori evening. Thus, you are standing in one spot, hugging onto the lectern and creating a barrier with your audience. Only one presenter stepped away from the lectern, expanding his space and connecting with the audience.

Graphics/Images Connect with Your Ideas

A presentation (speech or keynote address) requires planning. Period. Once you have your idea and outline, it is time to work on the slides. Writing your speech and planning the slides should you hand-in-hand. This process cannot be rushed. The rewards for all the advance planning are a clear message, confidence and an attentive audience. 

Here are a couple of things to consider when working with your designer or presentation coach with regard to graphics.

  • Refrain from downloading images from the web unless you have purchased or acquired via appropriate usage licensing. A fuzzy, blurry, out of scale image is amateurish and should be avoided.
  • Select images that best convey your idea and invoke emotion
  • Avoid using tables of numbers. Instead stay focused on a key number or outcome and display it boldly with a few words. 500,000 Acres Saved in 2013
  • Charts: Unless your writing a scientific paper, use charts simply and elegantly. Far too many presentations overload a slide with a chart, add data points, footnotes, explanations, etc. 
  • Keep it simple.

The “Ask”

Elise Zelechowski, Rebuilding Exchange, is a young female executive director operating in an industry dominated by men; she was extremely clear about how much money her organization needed and how the money would be invested/used. Clear and direct. While a few others were ambiguous or chose to rely on their financial model. 

Another method, used by Rich Johnson, Spark Ventures which connects organizations and to children in-need, he cited results already achieved and then stated, “I need your help.” Explaining the breakdown of the investment (rule of 3!) to help raise children out of poverty. Sharon Schneider, Moxie Jean an e-commerce upscale resale children’s clothing, also illustrated “why do I need the money?” and how the investment will be put to use.