We are in the age of Entrepreneurship. This is now an accepted fact. In the same way kids used to grow up wanting to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. Now they are being nurtured to be entrepreneurs from an early age. The way adults interact in the workplace is changing as well. The ‘new economy’ impact is being felt in every sphere of life. This ranges from how the digital divide is being bridged. To how we organise our daily lives.
So what does all this mean? It means more of us will be working on own projects / businesses. We will be looking to work with other stakeholders more often and more frequently. This means we have to nurture our communications skills in ways we never needed to before. For instance, if you are looking for investors for your next startup. You may have organised a great business plan. You may have successfully tested your beta. Yet, if you cannot communicate your great idea. Then all the hard work and success you have delivered will be in vain.
So what do we mean by communication. Communication is usually taken to mean transfer of information. For example, the sun is out and it is a great day. Here you are passing over information about the current day. Yet, over the last half a century or so new disciplines have emerged. They focus on using language and communications to deliver desired results. For instance, speech act theory. Here the underlying message is that we use language to generate action as well. For example, could you kindly pass over the funding for my startup ? ☺ Here is the intended act to access funding for the startup project. So the way the speech is constructed is to generate the act of funding for the startup project. So, how can we can we structure our communication to generate the desired result. In the context of entrepreneurs looking for funding at least. This is the pitch.
The pitch is usually seen as the summary of your startup delivered within 30 seconds to 3 mins. This means you are expected to highlight your startup in a way that encourages them to learn more about you. So how do you go about pitching.
The Pitch Canvas is a good way to ensure you have covered all the areas needed in standard pitch. It allows you to describe each aspect of your project in a way that suits the needs of the investor. This means you know you have covered all the areas they normally need to know about.
Each box within the pitch canvas can be filled using the message map.
The message map allows you to break down your message in a way that your target listener can understand. It means you simplify the message to a degree that it is difficult to misinterpret. The point here is that people interpret the same information in different ways. How they think affects what they see in the same data. For instance, if you have an accountant and a lawyer analyse the same data sets. They will necessarily interpret it differently based on how they see the world. This is of crucial importance.
Once the message has been broken down and organised into the pitch canvas. Then comes the delivery of the pitch. This in my experience is the hardest bit. I have supported entrepreneurs in business planning competitions for over 5 years now. Every year I see the same problems. They seem to doing really well till they get on stage and then something happens. They don’t seem to do themselves justice. The great job they do in articulating the vision and mission on paper seems to disappear. Simplifying the message seems to be an academic endeavour. This experience tends to range across different professions and different age groups.
So what is going that intelligent and articulate people seem to have the same problems when pitching. Why is that they all seem to under perform when it comes to delivering a pitch. One reason is that they are not used to delivering pitches. In the same way dancers rehearse their performance to perfect it before they deliver. These entrepreneurs simply do not get a chance to do the same. Even the more experienced ones do not have the support to try new ways. This has not gained much attention. This is the pain point we have focused on at Sparkz Ignite .
SparkZ Ignite is about using dance an action based to use movement to support businesses. We feel that dance as a creative medium allows us to build our confidence. While maintaining our health and nurturing innovation at the same time. We felt using dance as a medium would be great way to support entrepreneurs with their pitches. Last week we delivered our Pow Wow Pitch Presentation at Incubus Ventures London. This was a 2 hour workshop. We worked their current cohort of startups.
The two hour workshop was designed to support them in rehearsing their pitches. We started by asking them to introduce themselves using a pitch. We then used various dance techniques to relax and get them focused. Followed by a section of how to express themselves using non verbal communications. The idea here was to give them a feel of how much they over depend on their verbal communications. Also to highlight how they were using their bodies to interact with their audiences. This took up most of our time with the entrepreneurs.
We then encouraged them to work in peer groups and support each other. We found this a useful way to build the confidence they needed to present themselves. It also encouraged all participants to learn about each other. We ended the workshop with 2 minute pitches and peer Q&A’s.
The benefits of the 2 hour spiral the workshop took the entrepreneurs on was evident. They were more comfortable in presenting themselves. They were relaxed when they delivered their final pitches. They were using their bodies more when expressing themselves. All this is just 2 hours.
The point being pitching is a skill like any other. It needs to be nurtured, practised and rehearsed like any other skill. In the same way you may be a world class athlete. But, if you have not trained for 3 years your performance will necessarily be harmed. In the same way, entrepreneurs need to practice pitching as a skill on a regular basis. Dance as a medium is a great way to rehearse your pitch performance. It builds your confidence. It nurtures your creativity. It also encourages collaboration and a great way to get some fitness done. The Pow Wow Pitch Performance workshops will soon be offered to the entrepreneurial public in London. Sign Up here for an early invite.
The full images for the workshop are available here — http://www.sparkzignite.co.uk/blog/pow-wow-pitch-performance-incubus-london-ventures-workshop