Making a Great Presentation: What I’ve Learned

So today was the Quinnipiac University Business Plan Competition in Hamden, CT and I had the pleasure of being able to compete. We were also lucky enough to have a great panel of judges: Nick O’Neil, Adam Ostrow, Chris Cunningham, Andre Yap and Angela Strange all traveled to come see our ideas. It was a really great experience, and I am grateful for their time and input.

All that being said, it is amazing the things you learn when you put yourself out there in front of a panel of judges. My partner and myself placed 2nd, a very respectable showing, but I’ve found that no idea is perfect. We figured that we had thought of everything. We rehearsed every question we could think of, left almost no stone unturned with our research, and in the end we were left stumped with some of the questions from the panel. That’s OK, though. It helped us realize how much extra work needs to be put into a great business plan and business proposal. Here are a few things I learned:

You can never research too much. Luckily, we did a lot of research for our plan and presentation. We actually spent an entire semester on it. Still, we could have done a lot more. Never forget that having facts to back up your claims is absolutely necessary. Credibility is key to having people believe in you.

Practice. And then practice again. And again. And again … you get the point. You can never be too prepared for a presentation, and it is very easy to tell who has not prepared enough.

Always know the value you are creating. This is the most important thing that I learned from this experience. When pitching a business idea, you absolutely must be able to clearly state the value that you are creating for your customers. Without that, you just have an idea that you’re hoping people will like.

Be Memorable. Nobody wants to sit and listen to a presentation where the presenter is stuttering through a boring PowerPoint with no emotion. Don’t be afraid to show people who you are, and don’t forget to convey the passion that has gotten you to this point.

If you remember these few simple points, you will be much better off for your next presentation. What else do you think helps when presenting a business idea? Let me know!

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