As I wrote on my previous post, this is my fourth year judging the Mobile Premier Awards, so I thought I’d give you some tips about how to put your company in danger of winning something. If you know someone who is presenting, you might like to point them over here as a kind of check list before the day.
I make no apologies that some of these are a little bit obvious because at least 50% of the finalists throw away their chances of winning by failing to observe at least one of these rules.
1. Sorry to be a little harsh and language-ist here, but the presentations are in English. If English is not your mother tongue, or if you aren’t very good at it, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. Every year, there’s more than one company who finishes their 3 minutes and no one has a clue about what they do. Naturally, this means that they don’t have a chance at winning awards or attracting any attention from the bloggers and journalists who attend.
So, the first rule is: Choose someone to present who can speak the best English. If you are the CEO and can’t speak English well and the most junior person in the company happens to be fluent, put your pride aside and get the Junior to do it. It’s much better that everyone understand the presentation than recognises you as the big cheese – there’ll be plenty of time for that later.
I feel a little bad about writing this part, especially as my language ability is so rubbish. But it really is important.
2. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
This again sounds obvious. But loads of companies run out of time and quite obviously have missed out some of what they really wanted to say. 3 minutes is not the standard length of your company presentation. You will need to adapt and it won’t work on the fly.
Did I say that it’s important to rehearse, especially the timing? This includes rehearsing in front of colleagues and getting honest feedback. Then try and giving it to people without expert knowledge and get them to explain back to you what you do.
3. Stand out. You’ll need to give this a lot of thought, before you start rehearsing. But you’ll be competing with the best startups in the world and from a judging point of view, it can be a little overwhelming. If you’re on towards the end, you have to really make sure you’re memorable.
One of the best examples from last year was Unkasoft. After a general introduction to the product (you can skip the first 1 min 40 secs if you’re in a real hurry), the speaker suddenly bought the product to life by acting out the special features and which included a quite spectacular…..well take a look.
Difficult to forget, right? All the judges need to do was to use a shorthand “ah, he was guy with the great presentation” and he’s memorable.
4. Humour helps, if you can pull it off. But it’s not a fundamental requirement and culturally, it doesn’t always work.
The above are hard and fast rules – ignore them at your peril. But what follows are my opinions, based on the 100 or so pitches I’ve seen over the years at the MPAs and other events.
5. The best presentations start with a clear statement of what problem the company is solving, followed by an explanation of what the company does. If you can tell this as a human sized personal story, this might work even better. Babajob last year did this really well, when the presenter told the story of two nannies (with photos of them) in India. Although similar in age, qualifications and experience, one earned $20 a month and one earned $120. You can read more here if you like, but the point is that by telling a story about a couple of individuals, it made the presentation memorable and understandable.
6. Don’t focus on the tech. This might sound odd in an environment dedicated to technology, but the story you’re trying to communicate is what it does and how it makes the world a better place, not how it works and a full list of all the features you’ve worked so hard to code. If you’re thinking of including a complicated diagram of how the tech is architected, you’re probably on the wrong track.
7. I find images help to reinforce messages, especially in a multi-cultural audience. Equally, slides with too much text detract from your story. There’s loads of comparisons of Steve Jobs Vs Bill Gates style of presenting around, but one of my favourites is over at Presentation Zen. Clearly, poor use of PowerPoint hasn’t exactly held Bill back, but for lesser mortals like us, the Jobs Method is going to be more effective most of the time.
Finally, please remember, a great idea poorly presented won’t stand a chance. A good idea well presented might very well win something.
If you’d like to add your ideas to these, please feel free. If you are entering the MPA’s – Good Luck!