By: Nabeel Hassanali – AfricanBrains
I was recently chosen to mentor at an event that challenged creative(s) – comprising of software / app developers, creative professionals and business individuals – to solve socio-economic problems through generating tech-oriented solutions in Nairobi, Kenya.
The excitement, exchange of ideas and leveraging of knowledge were cues that highly impressed me not forgetting the tenacity of these individuals that I witnessed amongst the six groups that were present.
The event comprised of two days of developing solutions through the use of creativity mixed with business sense by utilizing available technology, whereas the last day was dedicated to pitching solutions to a judging panel consisting of affluent private investors, equity firms and creative curators.
Considering such crop of participants are well versed with technology and creativity, I however saw room to encourage “sealing the deal” type of presentation skills that can harvest greater interest from the panel in creating a “buy-in” for the idea in question.
Here is my take on the essential skills (main themes identified during the session) that I thought are key at such events:
- 1. Convince yourself to convince others.
You may find individuals having the idea framework but may not be able to sell “belief” in the solution. This is evidenced at times with fidgety body language, space gazing, and poor moderation of tone and consistent assurance of the scenario.
- 2. The less informative the slides, the more attention you get.
You do not want judges to be put off at the first instance by noticing clutter in your slides, limited spacing and being informative to the extent of annoyance. The less information you project, the better avenue to sell your proposition.
- 3. Being precise to create “buy-in.”
Individuals may express a scenario, instance or a competitive statement in words that are far too many. You do not want to have the judges asking you to explain at the end from square one! It is important to maintain brevity for presentations.
- 4. Utilizing floor space with appropriate body language.
Moving too much around too frequently together with flaring arms and gestures would intimidate the judges and the audience too. Nobody is interested to view you as a pendulum! You want to be composed, captured and in sync with your body and mind to best maintain body posture and moving across the floor / stage.
- 5. Capturing the best and necessary information.
You do not want to include information or data that you are uncertain of as that is the primary element a judge or your audience will capture. Moreover, mixing information with numbers concerning costs, revenue or other components with graphics, benefits to capture the idea in detail by being comprehensive and concise.
The list can actually go on with exhausting all available cues for succeeding in presentation skills. But, as mentioned before, these are general elements that I observe from time to time at various events dedicated to entrepreneurial ideas and pitches.