On Storytelling

One skill founders often think is unimportant is learning to tell their story right. Some tips that I think are relevant:

  • Make sure your audience/prospective investor is following the conversation. Especially if your startup is built on new and unfamiliar technology, break down concepts and use easy-to-follow analogies. Always assume that you’re talking to newbies not fellow developers. It is your responsibility to ensure they understand your product, not the other way around. This reinforces faith that you know your stuff.
  • While on a call, allow participants ask questions and tell you what their understanding of all you’ve said is. You’d be surprised.
  • Don’t do fluff. That’s how you lose people.
  • Be clear, concise and easy to comprehend.
  • Don’t speed talk. This doesn’t give room to take in what you’re saying. They may give up if they’ve called your attention to it already. Nervousness causes this sometimes – just breathe.
  • Don’t talk straight for 5-7 minutes on what should be a 10 or 15-minute call. Make sure the other party hasn’t fallen asleep.
  • For calls, send materials ahead. Make sure your pitch deck clearly illustrates what the business is about. What’s sad is going through a 10 or 12-page deck and having no clue what the problem you’re solving or solution you’re offering is.
  • Don’t “bobo” people with technical speak. They’re often left unimpressed.
  • If a 6-year old can’t understand what you are doing, YOU don’t know what you are doing.
  • Add a personal experience that inspired the startup (if one exists)

I also think it’s important to go at your applications and pitches objectively.

  • Why are you interesting?
  • Why should people listen?
  • Would YOU find you interesting if you were an investor?

It might be a good idea in your head but unfortunately, we can’t get into your head. It often won’t matter if you have a great product or service if you can’t pitch it right.

This was first published a year ago on LinkedIn.