Learning from The 2019 Hult Prize

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Team work makes the dream work!

But let’s talk about you. You’ve got something you believe in. It’s financially feasible and implementable. You’ve managed the implementation risks. You’ve sacrificed alot, this is a side hustle after all. The time you could have spent with your Significant Other after work, finding sources to confirm your claims. The time you could have spent with your family over the Christmas season, spent configuring the right Buyer Persona. You’ve always focused on the details, because these count the most. So what now?

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Start with a Growth Mindset.

HBR believes it to be a process where individuals ultimately recognize their constraints, and choose to do something about it. Ask yourself, “Do I really believe in this, and will it add tangible value?”. There are many sources to help you get to the bottom of this. So if your answer is no, it might be worth considering the opportunity cost of taking it further. And realize it’s time well spent on another hustle.

But if the answer is YES, it’s all you need to keep going.

The presentation might have had something to do with it.

You may not realized it, but you’re doing what many in Business Development Professionals refer to as Lead Nurturing.

Consider the most important slide. The one you thought would yield THE moment of clarity, a sudden realization/understanding usually attributed to life…or in this case, the problem and/or solution. Remember, we retain approximately 10 percent of what we see.

Here is something to think about for those 60 seconds,

  1. Were they looking at you, or that “fancy” slide? They’re great, don’t get me wrong. But comes with something called engagement.
  2. Were they looking at you, the presentation, or that ? A pretty slide doesn’t say much, but says alot when you’ve sufficiently engaged them.

But can engagement be measured, and factored into your presentation?

Engagement through expectation management.

Engagement can depend on setting the right expectations. Yes, you’re at an Investor pitch. But does that Du Pont tree really have to be at the center of your presentation? Well, as every statistician will tell you, it depends. What I can say for sure, is that it depends on who you’re pitching to. Here’s a few things to think about when factoring engagement into your presentations,

  1. You need to research the people you’re going to meet again. Can you schedule some time with them before the pitch to get to know them?
  2. What motivates them? Is it Profit or Social Impact?
  3. Are the looking for long or short term commitment?
  4. Do they have an expertise in your field of application? Consider a softer approach to your pitch if they think a Du Pont Tree has something to do with a can of paint.

Consider your presentation as a targeted message, designed to manage their expectations and create a perception of what closely aligns with their baseline instinct to trust in someones else’s idea.

After all, they’re considering a calculated risk on your potential for success or profitability. FYI, not correlated in some cases.

Finally, get straight to the point.

You now have an imperfect idea of who they are, and what motivates them. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Very few people can hone on it precisely, because the complexity of human instincts goes far beyond alot of what our current models say about us. Some people don’t need facts to convince others to trust them. But this doesn’t mean you should manipulate them into something that not true.

Getting straight to the point is much more than stating a desirable ROI, or using Design Thinking. It’s about using as many of these techniques as you can, in a way that ultimately communicates value.

Whether its complex and analytical, or simple and aesthetic, can the value be communicated most effectively in the time allocated to do it?

And this goes back to whether you truly believe in your cause, the value it will create, and the mechanism you’re using to delivery this value in an explicit or implicit way.

I’ll leave you with Chris Anderson’s Ted Talk about communicating ideas.



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