Startups 101: Pitching and presenting

This is the second in a series of posts distilling various lessons I’ve learnt while working on various projects, etc

My fellow fellows at the CUNY / Tow Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism program are gearing up for their pitches, and over the past weeks I’ve been helping several of them refine their spiel. Herewith some notes on how to deliver more effective pitches and presentations:

– Don’t forget to breathe. Take 30 seconds before you head ‘on stage’ to take slow, deep breaths. This calms and relaxes you, and makes it much less likely you’ll start the presentation by taking shallow, gulping breaths (leading to that ‘running out of air’ phenomenon).

– Pause. Silence is a powerful way of emphasizing a point, connecting with your audience and giving them a change to digest the awesomeness of what you just said.

– Maintain eye contact, but don’t stare. There’s a fine line between engaging with someone through good eye contact and creeping them out. Stay on the right side of it. Remember – don’t just focus on the judges, you want the room to pay attention to you, too.

– Don’t read your slides. Just don’t. You waste time and bore the audience. Slides are your *supplementary* materials; you are the primary attraction.

– Tell me what you’re going to tell me (“Now I’d like to talk about”; “let me me tell you” etc); tell me; then tell me what you’ve told me (“to recap”; “as I’ve explained”; etc)

Startups 101: Thinking about your communications strategy


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