Look The Same & They’ll Forget Your Name
I recently attended a fantastic start-up incubator (Pi Labs) to help some new businesses with their pitches. All the start-ups focused on one business sector with technological solutions to problems within that sector.
But that’s not where the similarities ended, all the people pitching were eerily similar, all were male, slim, white, well groomed, around average height, similar age with short brown or black hair, dark shoes, dark trousers and white or blue shirts; in other words they all looked like brothers, they all looked the same, something that won’t help them stand out.
The pitch panel, like a school audition
Whether you’re presenting at a job interview, a sales presentation or pitching for funding, your audience has most likely determined the terms of your pitch i.e. to make their lives easier they have asked all the pitchers to gather in one place, on the same stage one after another, for roughly the same time period, just like a beauty parade or an audition for the lead role in a school play.
This means the audience experiences no change in ceremony, position, location, lighting or surroundings, (whereas in contrast the pitchers experience something completely new, new location, audience and feelings). Add to this pitchers that all look the same and we have a recipe for confusion, for once everyone has pitched and some time has elapsed the audience will struggle to differentiate between one pitch and another and in the audience’s minds the memory of the event becomes one indistinct collective memory, a big blur, blend. This is clearly undesirable for any pitcher, we want our pitch to be novel and different so it can be recalled easily.
“A star does not compete with other stars around it; it just shines.” Matshona Dhliwayo
To make our pitch stand out we must amplify the difference between ours and others’ pitchers, not just in what we say but also how we present ourselves. Here’s some ideas on how to do that:
Wear something bright and distinctive or go for a high contrast approach; go for a monochrome outfit (dark blue top, bottoms, shoes) with one splash of colour (pink pocket square, white jacket, scarf etc).
We can employ items of clothing we think others will not, for example a hat, bow tie, stick. Perhaps wear some sort of uniform that reflects the sector you’ll be serving, for example medical attire for medical technology or high viz reflecting the construction industry.
One of my favourites is to include something physical that relates to your business, for example bring on a plastic brain, put it on a chair and then talk about artificial intelligence
Music or familiar sounds that reflect your sector, for example a cab app running electric cars may play the sound of a heavy industrial sounding diesel cab versus the whizz of an electrical car.
Touch & Taste
Clearly difficult if you’re selling your IP but one can always invite the audience to touch and hold new devices or products. Similarly taste tests are possible.
One of my friends is a scent expert (www.odettetoilette.com) running events based around themes and times in society that are brought to life through scent; the audience are handed scent vials and asked to smell them at certain times, it’s a surprisingly engaging experience. Perhaps you’re introducing a new coffee into your cafe, distribute to the audience coffee beans or the smell of those beans.
When we’re preparing our pitch its natural to focus solely on our pitch but in so doing we fail to look see things from our audience’s point of view, who will if we’re not distinctive, most likely perceive our pitch as one in a long blur or pitches. If we’re to demand our audience’s attention we must demand our own space in our audience’s mind, employing methods like these can only help us achieve that.