Pack Your Pitch into Three Powerful Minutes


Photo credit: Hasain Rasheed

Photo credit: Hasain Rasheed

As part of its sponsorship of Vator’s tech conference and startup competition in Oakland, our own Power of Persuasion expert, Andrew Hurteau, provided presentation skills coaching to the finalists of the start-up competition. Many presenters took advantage of this opportunity, including OppSites, the winner of Vator Splash Oakland  and Rockbot, a winner of Vator’s Oakland-focused Oaktown competition.

Preparation for High Stakes Speaking Engagements


The stakes were high for the Vator entrepreneurs; they were allotted just three minutes to persuade a panel of judges to vote them worthy of $30,000 in prizes and meetings with investors. Hurteau’s mission was to coach the finalists on presenting their stories with passion, clarity and precision. To prepare the finalists for success, Andrew drew on the tools found in Richard Butterfield’s Power of Persuasion curriculum and his own performance background — but every participant received individualized attention. “They were all great speakers: they were well prepared, and they all pitching something new and different,” says Hurteau. “But even great speakers benefit from presentation coaching. Usually the great ones need the most specific help. For some we focused on content. For others it was about delivery and style. Everyone walked away more powerful and persuasive.”

Said one participant,  “I didn’t expect to get much out of [the coaching], but Andrew’s feedback was so specific to my style and my content – he helped me a lot.”

Andrew's Top Tips for Your Next Pitch


Start with a strong hook.

Your audience wants to know “What’s in it for me?” Answer them.  Brennen Byrne from CLEF (which finished in the top five startups) began his presentation with a question: “How many passwords do you have to remember every day?” I think every single person in the audience groaned. He hooked them. He got their attention by connecting them personally to the problem his company can solve.

Reduce the sauce.

Sometimes your product has so many benefits and features, you want to list them all. Don’t. Prioritize your list. And when you do so, three is the magic number. Reduce 10 benefits to three categories of benefits. Reduce six features to the three best. Your audience will struggle to remember ten benefits, but they’ll be able to talk about three exciting ones days later.

Let us catch you grinning.

You love what you do, right? Enthusiasm is infectious. Allow us to see your excitement for your work and we will get excited too.

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