Archive for the ‘Video Pitch’ Category

You Can’t Go “Off-Script” Until You Have a Script

Posted on: July 20th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

Mark Twain famously said, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.

Like Twain, most speakers and presenters want to be spontaneous. They want to be that rare charismatic individual who can evolve their message to the mood and interests of the audience in the moment. Truly there is no more powerful form of speaking than extemporaneous speech. Being nimble and adjusting your message and delivery real-time takes considerable experience and skill. Attempting impromptu speech without the needed experience and skill can be disastrous and lead to lost sales, investment, credibility and relationships.

Developing the skill of impromptu speech is complex. A speaker not only needs to be a good communicator but also needs to have domain expertise and be able read their audience and adjust their message dynamically. To be a “good” communicator means that the speaker is unconsciously competent at speaking in public. We all start at conscious competence. Which is to say that, in the beginning, we have to think about and awkwardly execute every step in the process to deliver a modest speech.

Consider a driver who is new to operating a manual transmission car. They first have to learn steps to depress the clutch and move the shifter into position. They do this first with the engine off and the emergency brake on. As they build this skill to reasonable competence, they progress to shifting while the engine is on and then to driving in an empty parking lot and then driving in a quiet neighborhood and so on. By the time they progress to driving on highways or a busy urban setting their skills have evolved to a place where shifting a manual transmission is second nature. In other words, they are unconsciously competent at shifting.

Elevating your team’s ability to respond in the moment to the needs of their audience, requires them first to be a practiced domain speaker.

Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you successfully democratize pitch event results in your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More

Posted on: March 25th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

This a really powerful article about the value of practice in skill building. Look at the ratio of practice to competition for athletes or the ration of practice to performing for any type of performing artist. Do business professionals practice to perform at similar ratios? What would change if they did?


Reprinted from Medium. Written by @james_clear

Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More

We all have goals that we want to achieve in our lives. These goals may include learning a new language, eating healthier and losing weight, becoming a better parent, saving more money, and so on.

It can be easy to assume that the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future is caused by a lack of knowledge. This is why we buy courses on how to start a business or how to lose weight fast or how to learn a new language in three months. We assume that if we knew about a better strategy, then we would get better results. We believe that a new result requires new knowledge.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that new knowledge does not necessarily drive new results. In fact, learning something new can actually be a waste of time if your goal is to make progress and not simply gain additional knowledge.

It all comes down to the difference between learning and practicing.

The Difference Between Learning and Practicing
In Thomas Sterner’s book, The Practicing Mind (audiobook), he explains the key difference between practicing and learning.

“When we practice something, we are involved in the deliberate repetition of a process with the intention of reaching a specific goal. The words deliberate and intention are key here because they define the difference between actively practicing something and passively learning it.”  — Thomas Sterner, The Practicing Mind

Learning something new and practicing something new may seem very similar, but these two methods can have profoundly different results. Here are some additional ways to think about the difference.

  • Let’s say your goal is to get stronger and more fit. You can research the best instructions on bench press technique, but the only way to build strength is to practice lifting weights.
  • Let’s say your goal is to grow your startup. You can learn about the best way to make a sales pitch, but the only way to actually land customers is to practice making sales calls.
  • Let’s say your goal is to write a book. You can talk to a best-selling author about writing, but the only way become a better writer is to practice publishing consistently.

Passive learning creates knowledge. Active practice creates skill.

Let’s consider three more reasons to prioritize active practice over passive learning.

  1. Learning Can Be a Crutch That Supports InactionIn many cases, learning is actually a way to avoid taking action on the goals and interests that we say are important to us. For example, let’s say you want to learn a foreign language. Reading a book on how to learn a foreign language quickly allows you to feel like you are making progress (“Hey, I’m figuring out the best way to do this!”). Of course, you’re not actually practicing the action that would deliver your desired outcome (speaking the foreign language).

    In situations like this one, we often claim that we are preparing or researching the best method, but these rationalizations allow us to feel like we are moving forward when we are merely spinning our wheels. We make the mistake of being in motion rather than taking action. Learning is valuable until it becomes a form of procrastination.

  2. Practice Is Learning, But Learning Is Not PracticePassive learning is not a form of practice because although you gain new knowledge, you are not discovering how to apply that knowledge. Active practice, meanwhile, is one of the greatest forms of learning because the mistakes you make while practicing reveal important insights.

    Even more important, practice is the only way to make a meaningful contribution with your knowledge. You can watch an online course about how to build a business or read an article about a terrible disaster in a developing nation, but that knowledge is unproductive unless you actually launch your business or donate to those in need. Learning by itself can be valuable for you, but if you want to be valuable to others, then you have to express your knowledge in some way.

  3. Practice Focuses Your Energy on the Process“Progress is a natural result of staying focused on the process of doing anything.”  — Thomas Sterner, The Practicing Mind

    The state of your life right now is a result of the habits and beliefs that you have been practicing each day. When you realize this and begin to direct your focus toward practicing better habits day-in and day-out, continual progress will be the logical outcome. It is not the things we learn nor the dreams we envision that determines our results, but rather that habits that we practice each day. Fall in love with boredom and focus your energy on the process, not the product.

The Bottom Line
Is passive learning useless? Of course not. In many cases, learning for the sake of learning can be a beautiful thing. Not to mention that soaking up new information can help you make more informed decisions when you do decide to take action.

That said, the main point of this article is that learning by itself does not lead to progress. We often hide behind information and use learning as an excuse to delay the more difficult and more important choice of actually doing something. Spend less time passively learning and more time actively practicing. Stop thinking and start doing.

Program: Standout in 30-Seconds

Posted on: December 3rd, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

Standout in 30-Seconds
Help your team connect at every opportunity
Make high impact elevator pitches and self-introductions

Do members of your team get nervous, bobble their words or struggle to clearly articulate your message and value proposition?

Connecting quickly with an important individual or audience can make all the difference in whether or not you gain next steps. Capturing attention and compelling action takes effort and practice.

Learn, Practice and Perform

Sign up for the Test My Pitch, Standout in 30-Seconds program and you and your team will get:

2 x 1-hour workshops (delivered live online)

  1. Introduction to Standing Out
    • getting started
    • Shocked546x480creating a script
    • delivery techniques
  2. Advanced Standing Out
    • assessing the audience
    • developing a hook
    • closing with confidence

3-rounds of formalized practice and feedback with our expert mentors plus 3-months of use of the Test My Pitch platform for each team member to practice, perform and get peer feedback on their elevator pitch or self-introduction…this is unlimited practice and unlimited feedback!

Though our Learn, Practice and Perform method, skills improve quickly and affordably. Owners and managers also get unexpected insights into their team’s ability.

Reserve your spot and sign up today!

Options for Standout in 30-Seconds

Elevator Pitch – is a succinct and persuasive sales statement typically aimed at closing for a sale, investment or a meeting.
 Select team size

Self-Introduction – is a brief personal presentation of capabilities aimed at creating collaboration and building relations.
 Select team size

Feel free to call/email with any questions or individual needs
+1 (860) 573-4821 or

Subject to the standard Test My Pitch Term of Use.
Test My Pitch is a product of Test My Pitch, LLC

Test My Pitch Use for the “Standout in 30-Seconds” Program

Posted on: December 2nd, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

The intent of this post is to describe the use of the Test My Pitch platform for customers who subscribe to the Standout in 30-Seconds program.

Test My Pitch is a private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. We engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Specific to the Standout in 30-Seconds program we will provide each team with their own private Test My Pitch community for 3-months. Your team will be able build their skills privately and collegially. Through a customized template process each member will have the ability draft, post and get feedback on their elevator pitch or self-introduction. Whether they struggle to find the right words or deliver them in a compelling way, the use of Test My Pitch will help build their skills and confidence quickly.

Besides the ability to have peer and manager feedback our team of experts will also offer feedback. Communication skills build with practice, so we strongly encourage that your team create and post as much as they want. There is no limit to how much they can post or how much feedback we’ll give.

Please let us know if you have questions on Test My Pitch or you’d like a demonstration. Feel free to contact Bill Kenney at +1 (860)573-4821 or

Click here to go back to the Standout in 30-Seconds program information.

Role-Play that Rock

Posted on: November 21st, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Sell More ● Close More ● Serve Better
Learn how to prepare your team to communicate effectively

Date: Friday, November 20, 2015
Time: Noon – 1:00PM (EST)
This is a webinar. Watch it here.

Need to help your team improve their:

  • Elevator pitch?
  • Cold call scripting?
  • Value proposition delivery?
  • Networking self-introduction?
  • Team member onboarding speed and competence?
  • Customer discovery and need assessment conversations?

Join us for this fast moving and highly informative workshop that will help you quickly improve your team’s communication skills.

Role-playing is one of the most common forms of learning and skill development. Athletes physically and mentally practice their sports, parents practice situational responses with their children and performance artists do weeks and sometimes months of script readings, practice sessions and then dress rehearsals before they see an audience. Likewise, effective professionals perform at their best with practice. This session will highlight stumbling blocks and reveal the current best practices for building your team’s communication competence and confidence.

In this workshop we’ll:

  • Identify the common challenges to communication skill building
  • Learn techniques and systems that will help your team evolve quickly
  • Explore the do’s and don’t of role-playing
  • Create the remedies that are right for your system
  • Learn what to prioritize and how to do it

Over the last two years our team has been visiting, interviewing and serving universities, entrepreneurship ecosystems and large employers all around the world. We’ve been to more than 250 pitch events and demo days in that time. We’ve also worked with sales organizations to engage and build sales team effectiveness. We’d like to share with you some of the learning and best practices that we are gaining through this experience.

Join us for this action packed and interactive session.
We limit these webinars to 50 participants. Register now to reserve your spot.

5 Things that You Can Learn About Pitching from Elon Musk

Posted on: July 15th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Article courtesy of Andy Raskin @araskin.

What I Sent Zack

What I sent Zack was a link to Elon Musk’s presentation for the Telsa Powerwall (the full video is at the bottom of this post). I also included a version of the points I’ll share below.
Musk’s delivery isn’t stellar. He’s self-conscious and fidgety. But at the end, his audience cheers. For a battery.

That’s because Musk does five things right that you should emulate in every pitch you ever make to anybody. And you should do them in this order:

#1: Name the enemy

Never start a pitch by talking about yourself, your team, your product, or your total addressable market. Instead, start by naming the thing that’s getting in the way of your customer’s happiness. Do that by painting an emotionally resonant picture of how the world currently sucks for your customer, who/what is to blame, and why. When Musk shows this image of burning fossil fuels, you can practically hear Darth Vader’s ominous breath.

#2: Answer “Why now?”

Audiences — particularly investors — are skeptical. They’re thinking, “People have lived this way for a long time — are they really going to change now?” Musk handles this objection by showing that we’re at a critical point in the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; if we don’t act now, things quickly get much, much worse. When Musk says, “We should collectively do something about this,” his audience howls in support.

#3: Show the promised land before explaining how you’ll get there

Before saying anything about batteries, Musk describes his version of happily-ever-after: a civilization powered by “this handy fusion reactor in the sky, called the Sun.” Showing the enemy’s defeat before explaining how you’ll make it happen can feel wrong for novice presenters — like blurting out the punchline before you’ve told a joke. But when an audience knows where you’re headed, they’re much more likely to buckle in for the ride.

#4: Identify obstacles—then explain how you’ll overcome them

Now that you’ve shared your vision of the future, (a) lay out the obstacles to achieving it and (b) show how your company/product/service will overcome each one. (There had better be some big, nasty obstacles — otherwise who needs what you’re selling?)

Musk addresses three obstacles to a solar-powered world:

(i) The amount of energy produced by solar panels varies throughout the day and night (thus the need for batteries):

(ii) Most people think the land area required for batteries to store enough energy to rid U.S. of fossil fuels would be really huge (but according to Musk, it’s that tiny red dot in Texas):

(iii) Currently available batteries suck in seven specific ways:

By this point, Musk’s audience is practically salivating for the Powerwall product video, which will explain how Powerwall does not suck in each of those seven ways. But make no mistake: the fancy graphics and dramatic music only work because Musk has set up the Powerwall not as a battery, but as the salvation of mankind.

#5: Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air

Again: audiences are skeptical. So you must give them evidence that the future you’ve laid out is, indeed, attainable. Musk does that by letting his audience in on a secret: Powerwall batteries have been supplying the energy for the auditorium in which he’s speaking. (As proof, he zooms in on the meter above, which registers zero power from the grid). For early- stage companies and products, demos like this can serve as evidence, though results from early (or beta) customers are more compelling. Least persuasive— but better than nothing — are testimonials from potential customers explaining why they would buy.

Watch Elon Musk pitch the Powerwall.

See the original article.

Featured Webinars

Posted on: February 8th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Come back often.
New webinars will be added monthly.

5 Reasons Why Your Training is Failing…and what to do about it

Building Community: How to Diversify Beyond the Usual Suspects

Business Plan Competitions are Broken…and What to Do About It

Criteria Conundrum: Developing Your Ultimate Pitch Evaluation Rubric

Feedback Failures: Where Feedback Goes Off Track…and How to Correct It!

Huh, What’d They Just Say?

Judging Nightmares…Make your judging reliable and informative!

Listening: The Secret to Powerful Communication

Make Your Pitch Event Kick-Ass

Measuring Impact: 7.5 Questions with Brian Barge from The Evidence Network

Mentee Mayhem

Mentor Magic: Overcome the Biggest Mentor Program Challenges!

Performance Paradox: How to Drive Results While Conserving Resources

Role-Plays that Rock

Stale and Underrepresented: Reinvigorate Your Community (note: Due to a technical snafu, the slides will not appear until the 4:50 mark. The audio should be good though)

The Millennial Paradox

When a Negative is a Positive: Making Feedback Effective


See the full library on our YouTube channel

Pitching Lessons from the StartupBus

Posted on: January 8th, 2014 | by tmpadmin

This article is courtesy of Erica Swallow and was first posted on Mashable

What if you had just three days to conceive, build and launch a startup?

That’s exactly what 152 entrepreneurs did on the StartupBus, a the 72-hour hackathon that takes place on seven buses as they make their way across North America to Austin for SXSW.

The teams had just a few minutes to pitch their ideas to the judges. So, who stood out and why? We caught up with Robert Scoble, panel judge and prominent tech blogger, to get his thoughts on what makes the perfect startup pitch.

Go Straight to the Demo

Pitches should be short and informative — the StartupBus pitches were capped at three minutes, including live product demos.

“I hate slides. I like teams that have a product ready to show, start out with a demo and get straight into who it is for,” Scoble says. “I hate anything that puts me to sleep, and slides often do.”

The only exception here is if you can be as compelling as, say, Steve Jobs, who could tell a captivating story with just one slide that prominently features a chart of a few words. But don’t fill it up and “make it look boring,” Scoble advises.

UsupplyMe hit the nail on the head with storytelling. Created by buspreneurs from the Mexican bus, UsupplyMe is focused on reinventing the buyer-supplier cycle in the construction industry, particularly in developing countries.

“The pitch was crisp, he told a story, it it flowed,” says Scoble. Check out the team’s pitch video:

If your startup does decide to go with slides, there should only be a few: those that discuss the team, the market and the social proof that your product already has traction.

Be Able to Answer These Questions

There’s only so much you can convey in a short period of time, but Scoble says it’s essential that startup entrepreneurs be able to answer the following questions in a pitch.

  • What is the problem you’re solving?
  • Who is this for? Who’s the customer?
  • How are you going to market it? How are you going to sell it?
  • What makes this unique or defensible? Can I copy it? Does it stand out? Is it interesting in some way?
  • What’s the market opportunity? Can you see a clear way to go to market?

If you happen to miss a few spots in your pitch, judges will be sure to ask. And when they do, make sure you have strong, supported responses, especially for these crucial questions.

“Remember, hope doesn’t pay the bills,” Scoble says. So when you’re asked about expected growth, the answer isn’t that you hope people will buy your product. You have to model the likelihood that customers will be into it and be confident in your analysis.

Furthermore, don’t take forever to answer. Get to the point. “Take a deep breath. Only answer in one breath and stop talking,” says Scoble, noting that short answers will help the judge do his job better, as he’ll be able to probe with more questions.

As for the StartupBus, two crowd-pleasers really stole the show: GhostPost — an anonymous, location-based chat service — and Cloudspotting — a social mobile app that lets people draw on clouds.

The teams simply knew how to present their ideas; they were engaging. Plus, their products were just cool. Neither had a clear plan for monetization, but they had the audience and judges laughing. Scoble pointed to Twitter as an example: The initial pitch was a fun idea, but it took the microblogging service six years to find a business model.

Think Big

Sitting next to Scoble on the judges panel was startup mentor and director of strategic initiatives at Rackspace, Nicholas Longo, who noted that startups must also be able to discuss their “noble cause.”

What worldly, important problem is your startup tackling?

Scoble says the star pitch in this space was CareerMob, which focuses on training and placing military veterans returning from service back to civilian life.

“CareerMob was the big star. Really strong noble cause, 48 hours of [web] development, really strong interactive HTML — you click a button and it did something,” Scoble says. “Their icon work was beautiful. It looked like a full-on company.”

Other Tidbits

  • Go mobile: Scoble says anyone working on mobile gets an extra boost in his mind. “Everybody carries a mobile phone — we always have one at all times. But who carries a laptop around?” The future is mobile and startup ideas should represent that, he says. “I care about market growth, and mobile seems to be a smart way to go as there’s increasingly more adoption on mobile. Plus, mobile ideas are more viral — if I like a mobile app, I can show my friends on the street. Not the case with desktop,” he explains.
  • On crowded markets: Scoble says FitChallenge, a mobile app that pits friends against each other in competition to stay healthy, caught his eye because it’s trying to enter a crowded space. “When you’re in a crowded space, you have to be extraordinary. Google was the seventh search engine, but was 10 times better,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to go into a crowded space, but you better bring something dramatic and clear as a differentiator.”
  • An entrepreneur’s goal: Scoble advises that startups focus on their customers. “Your customers are your investors. Your No. 1 goal is to build an audience that is passionate about using you, on the system and putting data into you.”

The Only Exception

Scoble says all of the above holds true for all startup pitch purposes, but there is one exception.

You can break all the rules and still do awesome “if you have something intangible that’s just off-the-wall crazy.”

GhostPost, for example, stole the audience and sort of soured the playing field for those who presented directly after. The concept is that being anonymous is freeing. What if you could have an anonymous backchannel for the events you’re at?

The StartupBus Semi-Finals had its very own chat room, which featured tons of offensive fat jokes, boob jokes and various other sexist and mocking comments of the people on stage. It’s amazing how dirty the Internet turns when you give them anonymity.

So, what is it that clicks with startup ideas like GhostPost?

“I like geeky things in my life so I can have stories to tell. So you come over to my house and see those things,” says Scoble, pointing to his recent fascination with CubeSensors, which help measure air quality. He says he bought four sensors and placed them around his house.

Present with a Purpose

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 | by tmpadmin

Originally posted by Seth Godin.

To make a change happen.

No change, no point. A presentation that doesn’t seek to make change is a waste of time and energy.

Before you start working on your presentation, the two-part question to answer is, “who will be changed by this work, and what is the change I seek?


The answer can be dramatic, “I want this six million dollar project approved.”

More likely, it can be subtle, “I want Bob to respect me more than he does.”

Most often, it’s, “I want to start a process that leads to action.”

If all you’re hoping for is to survive the ordeal, or to amuse and delight the crowd, then you’re not making a presentation, you’re merely an entertainer, or worse, wasting people’s time.

Change, of course, opens doors, it creates possibilities and it’s fraught with danger and apparent risk.

 Much easier to deny this than it is to embrace it.

Every element of your presentation (the room, the attendees, the length, the tone) exists for just one reason: to make it more likely that you will achieve the change you seek. If it doesn’t do that, replace it with something that does.

And of course, you can’t change everyone the same way at the same time. One more reason to carefully curate your audience with your intent in mind.

If you fail to make change, you’ve failed. If you do make change, you’ve opened the possibility you’ll be responsible for a bad decision or part of a project that doesn’t work. No wonder it’s frightening and far easier to just do a lousy presentation.

But you won’t. Because the change matters.

3 Keys to Selling Your Idea from Malcolm Gladwell

Posted on: October 28th, 2013 | by tmpadmin

This article appears courtesy of Jonah Berger

Whether you agree with him or not, Malcolm Gladwell does an amazing job of communicating ideas.  Here are three tips we can learn about selling our own ideas.

Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, Malcolm Gladwell has certainly done a great job of getting his ideas out there.  His first book, The Tipping Point, sold over 3 million copies. It has spent 423 weeks, or over 8 years, on the New York Times bestseller list. His later books, Blink and Outliers have also sold over a million copies each and had a similarly large impact on management practice.

But outside of learning from Gladwell’s content, what can we learn from his success at selling ideas? How can we become better storysellers?

Gladwell has a knack for turning complicated (and often arcane) scientific ideas into digestible, tasty nuggets of knowledge.  His readers don’t just passively sit listen, they’re inspired to take action.  To change their behavior.  To transform their organizations.  To tell others what they learned.

So what does Gladwell DO that makes him so effective?

I saw Gladwell speak about his new book, David and Goliath, a few weeks ago, and here are three tips I picked up.  Some new ones, some oldies but goodies

  1. KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid

When sharing ideas we have a tendency to slip into jargon.  To talk in ways that only insiders can understand.  We know so much about the idea that we assume others do as well.  So we go into all the nuances and complexity.  Without realizing that we’re losing our audience along the way.  It’s called the curse of knowledge.

Gladwell spares us the unnecessary details.  He keeps it simple.  He knows most of his readers aren’t experts on cognitive psychology, network sociology, or the science of dyslexia. So he avoids the minutiae.  He boils down complicated concepts into the key details and shares only those.  Not the whole forest, just the most important trees.

If your audience remembered only one thing you told them, what should it be?  How can you strip out unnecessary details and keep it simple?

  1. Stories Beat Information Every Time

Information is great.  Facts can be useful, enlightening, and help us make better decisions.  But they can also be overwhelming, boring, and hard to remember.

Rather than just providing information, Gladwell tells stories.  Tales of hipsters in the East Village or a girls’ basketball team that seemed woefully outmatched.  These stories surprise and engage the audience and they help the listener mentally simulate what is happening.

But when carefully designed, stories also serve a larger purpose.  They illustrate the main point of an argument in a way information alone can’t.  They’re like vessels or carriers.

The most effective stories are Trojan Horses.  Sure, there is an engaging narrative, but information comes along for the ride.  It’s proof by (compelling) example.

What’s your Trojan Horse Story?  What’s the enthralling narrative that will carry your message along inside?

  1. A Good Tease Holds Attention

Most plays have three acts.  The first act introduces things, the second act develops them, and the third resolves them.   Movies, while not as explicit, usually follow a similar pattern.  Sure everything could get resolved faster, but a good first act sets the scene in a way that draws us in.  Just like a good mystery.

Gladwell’s talks (and books) often have the same structure.  He starts with a question in the form of a story, but doesn’t resolve that story right away. Instead, he launches into a second and even a third story before wrapping up the first one.  But the listener stays tuned along the way because they want to know how the first story ends.  By opening what researchers call a curiosity gap, or hole in the listener’s knowledge, Gladwell encourages them to pay attention to the rest.

How can you open up a curiosity gap?  Point out a hole in your listener’s knowledge that will make them want to lean in closer to learn more?

Whether you agree with his ideas or not, Gladwell is a great storyteller.  One of the best there is.  But he’s also a great storyseller.  A master at selling ideas that drive others to action.

Whether you’re selling a product, an idea, or just yourself, we can all benefit from being better storysellers.