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- Who are the people in the audience?
- What do I have that they want?
- What do I want to accomplish by addressing them?
These are the three questions that any startup entrepreneur should use to focus a presentation. As Shel Israel explains in his new book, Stellar Presentations: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Giving Great Talks, “I ask the first two of these questions to conference producers. When they invite me. The third is mine to answer before I accept an invite.” Israel says that by understanding these questions, an entrepreneur will have a better chance of achieving the goals they set for themselves for the presentation and will keep the audience interested in their talk, company, and product.
Israel, who also co-authored Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble, speaks from a wealth of knowledge and experience. He runs a site called GlobalNeighbourhoods.net, which is counted among the best business blogs in the world, and is the CEO of SI Associates, a firm focused on business consulting and speaking engagements. He founded and ran a PR agency called SIPR for 17 years, which catered to Silicon Valley startups. With these credentials and more, it is pretty obvious the man knows what he is talking about.
Stellar Presentations is filled with anecdotes from Israel’s career. One that stuck out in my mind the most was when Israel recalled a presentation given by a young CEO. At the time Israel worked for Regis McKenna, who is considering the marketing expert for Silicon Valley. The young CEO spoke ad nauseum about his company and a product that was not even available yet. After going through 42 different ways for how it could be positioned in the marketplace, McKenna started for the door. Just before he left, McKenna told the young CEO, “Pick one. Then get back to us.”
As Israel explains, it was “a lesson I carried with me for over 30 years. All too often, companies get lost in their own possibilities. They think a lot about what they can do without deciding what they should do. It is a serious problem. I have seen this lack of focus lead to many startup failures.”
By gearing your presentations toward Israel’s three questions, you can better focus your presentation and even your business. As entrepreneurs, we need to remember that feedback from your customer is important. As we get feedback, we can tweak our product or service to better accommodate the market.
The same goes for presentations. Know who your audience consists of – investors, current customers, potential customers, media folks, or just people interested in your niche. Then, you can address what the outcome is for them by talking to conference organizers. Finally, what are YOU looking to accomplish by speaking?
Israel gives you the roadmap. His book is a quick read and something that you should constantly refer to as you rework your presentation. Do yourself (and your audience) a favor and pick up a copy.
You will be glad you did when you don’t end up like the young CEO.
Make sure to pick up your copy of Stellar Presentations: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Giving Great Talks on Amazon. To learn more about Shel Israel, visit his blog Global Neighbourhoods or follow him on Twitter @ShelIsrael.
Images provided by Shel Israel.