Having been personally involved in giving a few Finovate pitches and having seen many dozen more, I know how exhilarating and scary it can be. You’re putting it out there, trying to communicate all of your hard work and vision to a room full of fintech practitioners, partners and investors (don’t forget the investors!), to tell them that you are the next big thing in financial services — all in seven minutes.
If just the thought of it makes you break out in a cold sweat, here are five tips to remember that might help you prepare for your big moment in the spotlight:
- Keep it stupid simple – I know, the saying is “Keep it simple, stupid” (KISS), but I prefer to take it a step further. Keeping it “stupid simple” doesn’t mean dumbing it down, but getting to the very basics of your offering. Why should anyone care? Its not just about simplifying a complex concept, but breaking that concept down to its core kernel of truth. What is the visceral, emotional response that your product or service elicits? What are people trying to achieve with your product and how does it make them feel when they do? If you can tap into that, you have the basis of a winning presentation.
- Third party validation – Everyone knows how great you think you are, how your product will change the face of financial services as we know it. But let’s face it, you’re just one person and you have a decidedly vested interest in the subject. We’re pack animals, and we like to know that we’re in line with the general consensus. So what do others think of you and what you’ve built? Do you have any third party validation from investors, the press, customers or reviews? If so, drop those validation examples or endorsements loudly and often. Even things like number of new customers, percentage growth, time spent on your site, all of that can add an element of validation.
- Show and tell – Only show the pieces that help you tell your story. This isn’t a training session, you need to figure out what one message you need to convey, and how best to visually demonstrate that. If you pack too much in, or try to get too in the weeds on the intricacies of your product or service, you’ll lose the audience and muddle your message. Pick the most important aspects to demonstrate, and skip over everything else.
- Go team! – This one is easy. Don’t go it alone. Have one person talk, one person drive the demo. Trying to do both can be painful for you and your audience. But remember, both you and your teammate need to make sure you are in lockstep by doubling down on tip #5…
- Practice, practice, practice (and then practice) – You think getting up in front of the esteemed Finovate audience to present is scary? Try getting up there and finding that your mind has gone completely blank. I know, terrifying, right? By the time you take the stage, your presentation should be pure muscle memory. Assuming you listen to tip #4 and have a presentation partner, make sure you practice together, not individually. You should both be so well versed that you can do it in your sleep. As much as you like to keep it loose and “natural”, and as well as you may know what you want to say inside and out, you only have seven minutes to make your impression. You should have your presentation down to the second, and be able to give it while being pelted with paintballs and insults from small children. If you get to that point, then nothing can throw you off your game and you’ll get up there with confidence and stay laser focused on your message.
I hope these tips help! Follow them and you’ll do great. I look forward to seeing you at Finovate Fall in New York. If you’d like to meet up at the show, drop me a line!