Technology

Could you pitch your business in less than 60 seconds? TEDx, Steve Jobs and the 1-minute pitch

Fi Bendall /

Could you pitch your business in a minute to grab five big ones? Let alone do it at TEDx. 

Well that’s what 20 small businesses did to try grabbing $10,000 from St George Bank Kick Start Program live at TEDx Sydney last week.

The atmosphere was pretty intense and to be honest I am unsure how there weren’t casualties, as these startups and early businesses took to the stage. I was staggered by the professionalism and steely determination. I am not sure even a seasoned professional public speaker could have done better.

These weren’t simple business propositions, some were pretty complex, and a public vote with three judges on the stage decided 10 winners who shared in $100,000, just to add another element of fear while pitching your business in super fast time!

Chris Mewburn pitching Dappa Apparel in 1 minute at TEDx

It is critically important for SMEs to be able to do the elevator pitch in a quick, concise way. It cuts across all aspects of your business; we live in an era where if you don’t grab your audience in under a minute on your website, via an ad, an eDM, or any piece of communication you are consigned to an echo chamber. We want you to tell us, how, what and why as fast as possible before we move on.

It’s not easy. It is easier to ramble on about your life story. So being able to tell your story in one minute will deliver the interest, the leads and the hard dollars.

Steve Jobs at Apple had pitching down pat. He could tell you about an Apple product and how it would change your life in less than a minute. The art of his short and long form storytelling was legendary and sold a whole new generation of mobile, music, film, and wearable technology simply, concisely and extremely effectively that changed our lives and society fundamentally.

Top tips to pitching like Steve Jobs:

  • Set the theme – “Today Apple reinvents the phone”, said Jobs
  • Be passionate and enthusiastic, use words like amazing, it’s extraordinary, and it’s unique
  • Present briefly but to-the-point, there are three main things I want to discuss
  • What do the numbers mean, Jobs always put sales of the iPhone in context of how many were sold per day, and compared numbers against the market
  • Think how it will be memorable, when launching the Macbook Air Jobs  showed how it would fit in a manila envelope to demonstrate how thin it was
  • You don’t need slides. No one had slides at TEDx – slides are out, images are in, but people sell regardless of props
  • Jobs always sold benefits not features – show how it will help your customers, not why
  • Rehearse and don’t worry if you stuff up, the audience will be more behind you than you think, so keep going 

Stand out presenters at TEDx Sydney for me personally (although they were all amazing) were:

  • Charlie Teo, the top neurosurgeon in the world
  • Dr Munjed Al Muderis, inventor of robotic limbs
  • Hamish Skermer, king of the compost toilet

They told their stories in very different ways but the main observation was they were clear about what they did and the benefit they deliver to society. Their humanity, humility and humour were on display, and they could tell a real and engaging story in very little time (15-20 minutes) that stayed with you.

Me and Dr Charlie Teo at TEDX Sydney, who was humbled when he found out that my 11-year-old had done a project on him at school.

Hat tip to the St George Kick Start winners of $10K in one minute:

  • Helen Mitchell of Busivid.com, a corporate video management system
  • Sarah Liu of Gemini3, a job-sharing platform
  • Alaster Spiers of Stashboard.com, a cloud-based organisational tool for the creative industry
  • Chris Mewburn of Dappa Apparel, a personalised stylist service
  • Ryan Dillon of Websters Group, a finance and project management business for clean technology upgrades in industry
  • Anthea Varigos of BrandSound, a sonic logo design agency
  • Shaun Eislers of PuppyGoGo, an online dog-sitting network
  • Alistair Johnstone of Corporate Compost, a composting initiative aimed at the corporate food market
  • Ruth Francis of Forever Pegs, makers of a durable peg with multiple uses
  • Luke Hymann of Snow Explore, an interactive skiing and snowboarding mountain guide

In the interests of disclosure, St George Business Banking Group is a client of Bendalls. However, Bendalls was not a part of bringing the St George Bank Kick Start program to market. Fi Bendall was an invited attendee to TEDx and this is her own opinion and observations based on her interest and passion in supporting early start SME and the SME community as a whole.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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