As an entrepreneur, you’ll often be asked to give a pitch about your company and your offering. Of course, there’s the 30-second elevator pitch, the 2-minute pitch, and so on, but you’ll have to pitch your company no matter what you do.
At 1 Million Cups (I lead the Orlando chapter), you have six minutes to give a presentation, followed by 20 minutes of questions, constructive advice, and feedback, about both your company and your presentation.
I’ve seen countless entrepreneurs give what is likely their first presentation, and they blow it. They try to cram as much information into their slides as they can, they fill us up with statistics and stories, and they tell us as much as they can about the problem, its scope, and the heartbreak of whatever it is they’re fixing. They also include their own journey, their history, how they learned about the problem, and how they decided to fix it.
They have a couple dozen slides — I once saw a presentation that had 30 slides — and they think six minutes is plenty of time to share their vision about how they’re going to solve this problem that’s plaguing millions.
Except they barely get through the first three slides when time runs out.
They failed. We didn’t learn about the company, their work, whether the problem can actually be fixed, or whether they’re the ones capable of doing it.
Ideally, when you have a six-minute presentation, you should have a slide deck with only six slides. Your slide deck should have very little text on it, and it should have stunning visuals. (Those are less important, but still helpful.)
What it should not have:
- More than 5 bullet points.
- More than 5 words in each point.
- Organizational charts.
- A doctoral dissertation’s worth of industry statistics.
How should your 1 Million Cups presentation should go
This is a Problem-Solution format that tells people, well, what the problem is, and how you can solve it.
Basically, your ideal slide deck should contain the following information.
- Opening splash screen
- The problem you want to solve
- The cost/size of the problem (the TAM, SAM, and SOM)
- The solution to the problem
- How YOU provide the solution
- Your contact info.
Don’t forget, your presentation should start with a story. Not necessarily a story about you, but about a client who benefitted from your work. Tell this while we’re looking at your second slide.
“ABC company had a problem: they were losing $50,000 per month on employee turnover and onboarding. We helped them identify a manager who was causing the high turnover and fed him to alligators. We also created a digital training and onboarding system that turned a three-month, paper-based onboarding process into a process that beamed important company information directly into a person’s brain. The company saved $600,000 per year, and they gave me a $25 Starbucks gift card.”
Or something like that.
For slide three, talk about how bad management and lengthy turnover cost American businesses eleventy-billion dollars per year. And in your chosen industry, it’s $2 billion. And in your home state, it costs your industry $500 million.
Slide four is about your alligator farm and data-brain transference beam.
Slide five is about how you patented the data-brain transference beam and now license it out to other HR consultants.
Slide six is how people can get ahold of you if they want to reduce their own onboarding costs, or are really tired of their brother-in-law.
Rather than squeezing every piece of information into your presentation that you can, leave that information for the actual Q&A portion of the presentation.
And if there was something you didn’t get to talk about don’t worry, there will be plenty of people with questions. But if it’s critical that you talk about it, then be sure to include it in your presentation. Cut something else out so you can get the most important information in there.
Another possible layout
Unlike the previous format, this is a Problem-Assistance presentation. Basically, you’re saying “I have a problem I need help with.”
Your format will look more like this.
- Opening screen
- The work you do
- How long have you done it/your education or experience
- The problem you are facing
- The things you have tried —OR — what kind of help you need
- Contact info
The information is the same, and maybe you’ll open with a similar story. But the focus of this presentation will be on your struggles with growth and expansion or finding new clients or dealing with pesky alligator inspectors or finding a good defense attorney.
The ideas are the same: You still only have six minutes, and you’ll get 20 minutes of questions and feedback. So don’t try to cram in everything, just include the basic facts and trust that people will ask you the questions that will allow you to share that information.
Be sure to practice your talk a few times, even if it’s just while you’re driving in your car. But as long as you’re telling your stories and sharing your information, the presentation will flow naturally, and it will come easily.
Finally, make sure you prepare your slide deck to show on someone else’s technology.
Photo credit: Erik Deckers