Archive for April, 2012

Put your pitch-er-ee on the spot

April 18th, 2012

This past Thursday I was invited to go to the Northeastern Entrepreneurship Club's Demo Day. At the event, over a dozen companies demoed their products and services to a crowd of hundreds of people. It was an awesome night, and I think serves as a great model for entrepreneurship and youth in the city of Boston. The gang at NEU have done a tremendous job over the past few years and everyone in the city of Boston takes notice. Great work guys. WOO WOOOO!

Now. I'm gonna throw some old knowledge at you that I'm sure you've heard a thousand times: it is important to pitch, and repitch, and repitch again in order to get better and better at delivering your value prop to others.

However, if you're having trouble figuring out what your value prop is in the mind's of your customers, try this: The next time that you pitch your company to someone, tell them before you start pitching that after you have finished speaking, you'd like them to repeat back to YOU the pitch you just told them.

I'll tell you what happens (or at least what I've seen happen).

By putting someone on the spot and asking them to pitch what you said back to you, you immediately grasp your viewers' attention like you've never seen before. It's like giving someone a test. It immediately grabs the other person's attention. They zone everything else out.

Now, say your pitch, and ask for them to say the pitch back. And get ready to take real good notes.

Almost always the pitch will be different than what you said. However, what is interesting (and what you should most certainly write down) are the SPECIFIC WORDS that the person chooses to repeat and emphasize back to you over and over again.

If it takes YOU (the entrepreneur) two sentences to deliver your pitch, it will likely take the person you are pitching four sentences or more. Pay close attention to the words that are repeated as they try to state the pitch back to you. Remember, you've said your pitch dozens if not hundreds of times, and your listener hasn't. Encourage them to keep going. Write their repeated words down. And thank them.

Run this exercise with a number of different people.

From what I've found, the words that consistently resonate with your customer base are the ones that are repeated more often than the words that are ignored. These are the words that resonate most with your customers. You should encourage the use of these words, and eliminate words that confuse people / are too "big" / are hard to pronounce / or are too scientific.

I've seen brave students get up in front of crowds of people and pitch their ideas. I've seen some do their homework, and I've seen some get slaughtered. And as someone who has done their homework before and also has been slaughtered before, I'm here to tell you it aint no thanggg. You learn from each pitch, and you move on. Get creative with new ways to learn from others when pitching so that you can get to your core value prop. If nothing else, some of the pitches you hear back will make you laugh!



“AND” not “BUT.” How one simple word can change conversations for the better

April 15th, 2012

Warning: This tip is a game changer. It is something you can actively do to change your life for the better starting today. And it involves the way you talk (and listen) to other people. Well I'lllllll beeeee...

Try this: Erase the word "BUT" from your vocabulary and replace it with "AND."

Here's why. The word "BUT" does a really unbelievable job of NEGATING statements. If your goal is to win someone towards your way of thinking, or to have a conversation that keeps the other person open (and not closed off or guarded), you need to replace your "BUTS" with "ANDS."

Here are some examples to articulate:

1. "Rachel. I think your idea is great, BUT I think we should spend some more time on this product launch."

Deciphered: Your idea actually kind of sucks, Rachel.

2. "Billy. You are doing an awesome job, BUT I think you need to focus on hitting your deadlines."

Deciphered: Billy. You're actually not doing an awesome job. You need to start taking deadlines seriously. And if you cant get your shit together, I'm going to be pissed. DAMNIT BILLY! DAMNITTTTT.

In these two cases, the BUT negates the first statement.

Now try this. Instead of using the word BUT, try the word AND.

1. "Rachel. I think your idea is great, AND I think we should spend some more time on the product launch."

Deciphered: Rachel, your idea is great. And we should spend some more time on the product launch because it's also really important.

2. "Billy, I agree you are doing an awesome job, AND I think he needs to focus on hitting his deadlines."

Deciphered: Billy. You are doing an awesome job. And if you could spend some more time focusing on timing and details, you'll hit your deadlines, and this will make me really happy.

The next time you have a team meeting and other people are talking to one another, remember this lesson. And listen for the word "BUT." It is often used. And when you hear it, pay attention to the way the person who is listening to the conversation responds. It is highly likely that they are put on the defensive. It is highly likely that they are more combative. It is highly likely that they become more guarded. The word "BUT" does not include. It negates. And it affects conversations in a significant way.

AND, not BUT. Try it.