Hi, I’m Narek Manaseryan, leading specialist in Startups Investment Risks Management Field. I’m from Armenia and I spend lot of time in shortlisting startup presentations for venture pitching.
Today I will share some hidden secrets of my job and as a result of this topic, I want you to think beyond the formal presentation and consider the opportunities you have to communicate to others about what you do, why you do it, and why investors and customers should engage and support you. Consider ways to capture the attention and interest of your audience and take those steps to guarantee positive outcomes for you and your business.
Captivating audience is something everyone can do. This article will show you HOW!
So you know that you get only one chance to make the first impression. And that’s really important when it comes to making an impression on an investor or a customer. The very first impression that you actually make is usually through answering the questions: who you are and what you do.
Now many entrepreneurs I’ve run into have no idea how to answer the second question. Every one of you can answer who you are. But answering what you do in a compelling way that’s memorable, that gives people a reason to ask you to tell them more, is not too common.
I’d like to share with you a tool that’s the cornerstone to all the coaching I give to people. It’s what I call five in one. Five tools all in one that will help you stand out. In fact, it’s really quite simple. You’ll never forget it as long as you live.
SAME for Powerful Presentations
The tool is SAME. If you just remember this word you will never sound the same as any speaker ever again. Except for the fact that it gets a little bit more complicated. There are two Ss. And the way this works is as follows.
The first S of Powerful Presentations
The number one tool for captivating anyone’s attention or getting them interested in listening to what you have to say is the first “S”. And I know you’re probably going to say you’ve heard this before, but this is truly the way to captivate anyone’s attention. It’s with a STORY. You have probably heard about this but most people in business are not using stories effectively. If you need inspiration on where to come up with stories, my suggestion to you is to go visit ted.com and take a look at how other people are presenting their wildly inspirational and amazing technologies and lessons in life.
So, when you sit down to actually tell your story it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out story. The best part of stories is that they will get repeated. Nothing is as perfect as leaving your investor with a story that they will holistically or partially mention to their partners or to another group of people while you’re not there.
The second S of Powerful Presentations
The next letter takes the next “S”. And that is when you use statements like:
-How did you sleep last night, Narek?
-I slept like a baby.
-And how was the hotel?
-Oh, the bed was like sleeping on a bed of feathers.
And if you haven’t figured out yet, that “S” stands for simile. When you use similes in business to help people really understand what you do, no matter how complex, using statements that include the word like or as, they will get it. We do this in life all the time, but we forget in business to use similes. We’ll make it really easy for people to understand what the heck you’re talking about.
The A of Powerful Presentations
“A” stands for Analogy and it comes with a story. I have this friend who is a CEO and once I asked him what he does (regarding the business). And he responded by saying, “Narek, I’m the CEO of a company that is building a wildly exciting product. We do for surfing what the chair lift does for snow skiers.” And he paused. Then he said, “You know, the problem with snow skiing is getting to the top of the mountain and the chair lift fixes that problem. Well, the problem with surfing is getting out to the waves. And now instead of doing physical activities 90 percent of the time when you’re surfing, you can get ahead of the wave or get out to the waves using a surf board that has an electric, builtin motor.”
Using the “A” which is an analogy, he was able to show us how what they do for surfing is analogous to something in skiing. And it helped us and everybody in the room completely understand what they are talking about.
The M of Powerful Presentations
‘M” stands for Metaphor. The “M” has a story also. At the one of the Smart Camps in Europe two years ago there were 12 presenters that came up to the front of the room to present. Presenter number one when up and went blah, blah, blah, blah. The second presenter goes up and blah, blah, blah, blah. And now they were good presentations, but the fourth person stood up and said we’re really excited to be here because we want to share with you our machine that turns water into money. And you should have heard the room. Three hundred people in the room were laughing smiling, chuckling, wondering what is this machine that turns water into money. And then right up on the screen he shows us a video of a machine about so big that has turbines on the outside edges with flappers in the middle. You throw that into a rushing water way, tie it off to the side and plug it in. And now you’re generating free electricity. So does he literally turn water into money? Of course not. But he’s using a metaphor. That’s what “M” in “SAME” stands for. Using a metaphor to help people understand what you’re doing in business is so powerful it might be the only thing they remember. Out of all the presentations that day people still today are saying, did you see the guy who makes a machine that turns water into money. And you can come up with similes and analogies and metaphors for your complex businesses as well.
The E of Powerful Presentations
And finally the “E”. “E” stands for examples. And this is where most people go to when they are trying to get people understand what they are doing. While examples are good, they stand as the last letter of the word SAME, and it’s the perfect place for them to highlight when we need to concentrate on them. Because it’s the last place, I really want you to have the solid concept of what you’re trying to offer as a product and service and only then think of examples to illustrate your offering. However, if you used an example in the form of the simile, an analogy, or metaphor that would be much, much better.
Remember, there is no business on the planet that is too complex to be described using a simile, an analogy or a metaphor; no matter what language you speak, understand the value of what you do.
Create Your Wow Statement
Getting someone to say “Wow! How do you do that?” is a matter of crafting a concise and evocative WOW statement.
This segment of the article is how to craft your own “WOW” statements.
All right, but why do you even need a WOW statement?
Well, a number of years ago a very famous venture capitalist in Silicon Valley named Bill Reicherd was tired of hearing people come into his office and spend 10 or 15 minutes to describe what they do. So he wrote this paper called “Getting to Wow” which helped the entrepreneur distill down the essence of what they do into a single statement that when you say it, people respond to it with “Wow! How do you do that.?” Or “Wow, that’s interesting, I’d like to know more.” Bill Reichert’s Wow Statement for Garage Technology Ventures is brilliant, “We startup startups.” Very easy language to understand. It’s not complicated. It doesn’t tell them exactly what they’re doing. But it gives them an indication and gives people an interesting idea to think about where they might actually say “Wow, tell me some more!”.
So I would like to share with you a number of ways that you can actually create your own WOW statement.
Secret: the sources to find these similes, analogies and metaphors to come up with these great WOW statements are actually in your head, you just need to dig in. You live and breathe that all the time. So all you need to do is get some inspiration and get it out of your head.
One way to get it out of your head is to ask your team. In social settings or in business settings, when your team members are asked what they do, the way they respond to their friends around the dinner table, could be very enlightening to you. It stems from the way you talk about your business without actually literally saying what you do.
You can also get information about these similes, analogies and metaphors by going out and working with customers, early adopters or even people that say “No, I don’t want to use your stuff.”. Before those people, who don’t want to use your product, leave, stop for a moment and ask them why. And something that they say in response to that question might give you a clear indication of a better way to introduce your offering so that you don’t lose them. Or you can use that information as a way to make sure that whatever you do, say in the future, has a bigger Wow and a bigger response.
Tool 1: Stock Photos
So here are three things that you can do on your own or with your team to come up with ways to get these statements out of your head. You can go to one of the stock photo houses and start looking around at photos. You will be able to put photos into the right side of your brain and start getting more associations out of yourself so that you can come up with these statements. They are already in there. You and your team can do these together or you can do it by yourself. So go to one of these stock photo houses like iStockphoto or gettyimages and search for one or two terms that describe your business.
For example, let’s say your business deals with security. Here I’m, in gettyimages, I type in security and search. It comes up with 502 pages of 60 pictures in each page. Now forget about the first bunch of pages. Don’t care about those because they will be too banal to the word security. My suggestion is to jump to the end and work backwards. Because what I want to happen in your brain is to look at a picture of somebody hugging, let’s say on the 501st page. Now, think and spell what that picture has to do with security. I want your brain to actually go “Huh?”. Then you might see a photo like a bank vault and all of a sudden you say “Oh, that’s the perfect metaphor for our business. Our fire wall is the bank vault”, or whatever your technology is that you’re talking about.
And then when you press show me other pictures by the same photographer, maybe you find another picture that inspires you even further, let’s say, the yellow tape that police put up when they say “do not cross”. And during your product presentation or your investor presentation, you can go to your bag, pull out that yellow tape and say, “When you use our software, nothing gets through.” It’ll be a little different, a little bit of showmanship. Maybe nobody else would go into their bag and show something to an audience.
Tool 2: Readersdigest.com
Now the second tool that you can use to help you with inspiration for similes, analogies and metaphors or even stories or titles is going to readersdigest.com, rd.com. It comes in 68 different languages. No matter where you are in the world if you need inspiration, go to readersdigest.com and you can get some great ideas on tag lines. Because they hire some of the best writers in the world. And they write short stories. They write jokes. They write little lines that you can use. Take something that you like there, change out the words.
Tool 3: Movie Critics
The third tool that has great analogies, similes and metaphors that can help you with your Wow statements are movie critics. Movie critics are often limited to a very short number of words to describe to you what the experience of that movie was. And then from that description you decide whether or not you want to go. They are kings and queens of using similes, analogies and metaphors.
In coming up with these statements yourself, let me give you a couple of guidelines that you can use to design your own wow statements.
- So guideline number one is the Wow statement should be no more than three sentences. Okay. One is best, two is okay, three is max. If it’s more than three sentences, it’s probably starting to sound more like an elevator pitch.
- The second guideline is no more than 30 seconds. If it takes you more than 30 seconds to get somebody to say Wow, it’s not a wow statement.
- The third guideline is you want to use visual language. Language that brings pictures into the mind of your listener. Don’t stand up there and say, oh, we make social networking software, or we make social networking platform. Oh. What’s a platform? But if you stand up there, meet somebody, then they ask you what you do and you say that you make a machine that turns water into money, they go “Wow, how do you do that?”. So be sure and use visual language; machine, water, money. Those are visual words.
And finally, when coming up with these wow statements don’t stop at one statement. You need one really, really well-tested Wow statement that you can use that gets reactions from just about everybody you use it for. But you need two more as backup. Because if you happen to travel somewhere and the wow statement, you’re using doesn’t work for the audiences, you can’t just sit down and quickly come up with another one. You need to go to your pocket and use another one.
So use those as resources to help you come up with really great wow statements. So that when you go out and meet people and they ask who are you and what you do, you will be able to vividly and clearly state who you are, and tell them a statement where they respond to you by saying “Wow, how do you do that? You mean you make a machine that turns water into money? I want to know more about that.“