Be yourself

Being the start of a new year, I decided it was a good time to sit down and revisit my standard sales presentation.


A lot of big things have happened over the past year, and I figured it was important to make sure that my standard presentation reflects where we were as a business.


So, I sat there with PowerPoint open and began trying to integrate our various milestones and achievements.


I listed the large media companies that we had signed up, the number of new users that had registered with us, the testimonials from advertisers that had successfully bought campaigns through our platform and our press coverage.


As I began playing with the various slides, tweaking the headlines, shuffling the order and adding images, I came to a stark realisation: that in getting my presentation ‘right,’ I was robbing it of the raw passion that I have for my business.


It was boring.


I was building a presentation as if I was working for a massive bank or insurance company. I was acting as if sitting on my desk was a 1000-page book of brand guidelines and a 20-person compliance department to navigate past.


It was ridiculous. Here I am running a start-up, trying to revolutionise my industry, yet I am playing it completely safe, predictable and corporate.


I think my experience offers an important lesson.


Every time you talk about your business, it’s show time. It’s your opportunity to wow the world, to demonstrate your passion and to communicate your unique view of your industry.


It’s really easy to get stuck in PowerPoint minutiae and lose touch with the emotional power of your business idea.


There are a million books out there on how to hot up your presentations. Read them all. And then forget about them because every book is someone else’s way of communicating. Find your own.


Now, that’s not to say that you need to run around in a meeting room like Robin Williams after five cans of Red Bull (a scary thought!).


But you do need to connect with the real you and your genuine passion for your business.


People won’t remember what was on slide 24 of your presentation, but they will remember whether you touched them emotionally, whether you inspired them or transformed their thinking.


Now, I bet you’ll feel nervous trying to be the authentic you. It’s much easier to communicate within corporate guidelines and to hide behind policies, processes and convention. That’s why most people put on the same suit every day and hide in their cubicle.


You’ve decided to stand out and be different – to get involved in a start-up. Enjoy it.


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