You’re never as prepared as you think

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In October I attended a startup event in London, Launch48. I recommend you try it too, even if you aren’t looking to commit to the startup scene.

To me this was a chance to pitch an idea (in 60 freaking seconds), meet all kinds of new people and get opinions or feedback from mentors, investors and established entrepreneurs, and get involved on other people’s new startup projects.

So after weeks of back and forth with people about what idea I should run with and deciding to go with a fairly ‘safe’ idea, one that I had been thinking and working on and off on for months. I tried to prepare a pitch that would cover all of the key topics being asked of ideas.

  • Idea
  • Problem it solves
  • Business model & monetisation
  • target market
  • competitors
  • partnerships

After writing out the idea a hundred ways to fit into a story or a way to cover all the points it was time to try to memorise and make sure I could deliver it in 60 seconds.

This continued all the way up to being on the train on the way to the event, I began writing it out again in different ways on the train. I recommend that you don’t do this, don’t to be prepared like this.

I walked out in front of around 100 people clutching a piece of paper from the earlier train ride with the points and links I was to use to get my pitch across.

Its worth pointing out now that I have never presented off of a piece of paper in my life, I am generally quite good at linking between things from memory and not shy to give a presentation to important members of grand companies, but for this I felt like a n00b who needed to cover off all of the above points in less than 60 seconds and this completely derailed my approach to everything, no matter what I did I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I would be, and there was no way to know how prepared I needed to be.

What I learnt is that it’s better to just present what you can, as effortlessly as you are able to. Don’t try to cram everything into a 60 second window. Reel off your idea like you would to your friend, there is no time or need for showmanship, and being able to throw your idea out there shows more confidence in yourself and your idea because of the way people perceive you.

I saw the best pitches given, for the most interesting ideas, from people who were relaxed because the idea wasn’t baked yet, they weren’t protective or trying to justify it, they just wanted to share the idea. They were completely nonchalant of covering the points above, instead they planted a seed of interest and kept it as short and as possible (possibly because it was such a fresh idea)

By the way, my pitch failed to draw an interest, I tripped up by trying to cover off points on the paper in my hand and when realising I had missed a previous point stalled hard. I ran out of time (60 seconds is way faster than you think it is), and wasted a good few seconds at the beginning trying to be too prepared with a slideshow of mockups and stats.

A pitch is a pitch, you should be prepared to just throw it out there, not perform on the spot.

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