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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.

Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking

Posted on: July 12th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Article courtesy of Nic Zito @niczito.

Top 5 tips for effective public speaking. After one of my incubator members was invited to give his first presentation, he asked my advice for first time speakers. These are the first 5 thoughts that came to mind from my past speaking engagements:

  1. Tangibly Outline- Within the initial intro, you should organize and disclose to the crowd the ‘takeaways’ they are expected to retain or learn when they walkaway. In this way, you immediately seem prepared and organized, and they know upfront the value they will learn by listening to you.

  2. Don’t talk @ them- Put yourself in their shoes. When I am in the audience, I want to feel like the speaker is making a connection to even the largest crowds. This is accomplished by speaking in a conversational tone as if you were in a 1-on-1 talk to someone in the front row. The reverse of this is lecturing (Think a college setting), and we all know how many people tune out for those.

  3. Make it Personal- Unless you’re Mark Cuban, introduce yourself right away. Who are you? What do you care about? As an audience member, I want to feel like I know the person speaking, their background, and their experience. This all contributes to the takeaways you as the speaker will be presenting, in other words, it builds credibility but also puts an emotional human element to the talk.

  4. Care about the topic- This seems simple but within the initial 2 minutes of a public presentation, you can tell if someone is truly invested in their topic. Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. Again, people don’t want to feel like they’re being lectured by a robot. Being passionate increases your crowd connection which will in turn make you harder to tune out from.

  5. Involve the Audience- Q/A is a great way to achieve this. If it’s a smaller crowd you can call on individuals to ask what they’re working on and encourage group discussion. Notice and pay attention to their body language (ex. If someone is nodding) and have moments of spontaneous involvement. 2 practical reasons for this strategy as well are 1) Q/A breaks up the stretch of only you speaking, which can get stale and boring and 2) No matter how tangible your talk is, there are bound to be personal questions from the audience.

Link to the original article.

Community Building: Identifying and Enrolling Key Community Stakeholders

Posted on: July 8th, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

By definition a high-functioning community or ecosystem is built on attracting a diverse variety of individuals with complementary skills and perspectives.

The most common mistake that community builders make is that they invite the stakeholders after the plans are finalized. Whether in creating a new event or a new community, inviting all relevant stakeholders at inception rather than after the cake is cooked is critical. This is analogous to moving into a house with someone rather than moving into someone else’s house. If you’re an active and honored part of the formation process you’re much more likely to take ownership and treat the endeavor like your own. When you move into someone else’s house, you are always a guest.

So, before you get get too far down the road in the planning process make a list of the people and organizations who would likely share your preliminary vision. Think as diverse as you can. Think of folks in economic development, business, consumers, users, clubs, organizations, politics and public policy. Think as broadly as you can.

Then invite them to a meeting using your preliminary vision. Allow them to attend in-person and virtually. You may need to enroll some informal leaders in the group to compel others to attend. The goal is to get as many of these folks to the table as you can.

Through the invitation process and that first meeting, the framing and leadership that you provide will help identify the aligned self-interest between all of the stakeholders. And it will be that aligned self-interest that will become the core of the organization’s shared vision. The quicker that the process evolves to this shared vision, within reason, the easier it will be to keep all parties engaged and collaborating.