Kawasaki Shares Five Ways to Perfect Your Pitch

YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Funny, humble and wildly successful are three traits hard to find in one person. Most people are lucky to have one or two, but the speaker at YSU’s Thomas Colloquium had all three, and then some.

Thursday evening at Stambaugh Auditorium, Guy Kawasaki took the stage and delivered some serious value to a jam-packed room. Of course he could have fallen back on stories about Steve Jobs from his time at Apple – he was part of the team responsible for marketing the original Macintosh computer in 1984 and later popularized the idea of evangelism marketing – but Kawasaki has a passion for helping entrepreneurs and shared both inspirational stories and practical advice to motivate us to action.

The focus of Kawasaki’s talk was on the Art of Innovation. Great material. Entertaining and useful, but you can easily find this talk on YouTube.

However, his bonus tips were amazing, ending the talk with five ways to perfect your sales pitch.

First, always customize your introduction to show the audience you really care. In Kawasaki’s case, he uses pictures of local settings to show the audience that he’s not just rolling into town and posting up in his hotel room checking email.

He built an immediate emotional connection with the audience when he shared the selfie in front of the painted rock at YSU and talked about the fried chicken sandwich he had at Bistro 1907. He took the time to explore downtown Youngstown and the YSU campus and he shared his observations about his day. We were all nodding our heads in agreement.

Second, Kawasaki claims – and I second – that LinkedIn is God’s gift to sales presentations. Before you go into any meeting, take a few minutes to visit the profiles of the people you’re meeting with. Find out what school they attended, what groups they’re a part of, what connections you share. Why would you not take advantage of that readily available information to build rapport and relationships?

Third, always follow the 10-20-30 rule of presentations.Ten is the optimal number of slides for any presentation. Your audience simply can’t consume – and importantly, remember – much more information than you can fit in 10 slides.

20: That’s the amount of time you should take to deliver your presentation. Even if you have an hour, aim for 20 minutes to leave time for Q&A. This constraint will help you be more succinct and focused with your messaging.

30: That’s the minimum font size you should use for presentations. Make sure everyone can read your text and don’t cram too much on one slide. The best rule of thumb is to select the font size based upon the age of the oldest person in the audience – and then divide it by two. For example, if you’re pitching a 70-year-old venture capitalist, make sure the font is at least a 35.

Fourth, black backgrounds with white text make the best slides. It’s more impactful, powerful and impressive. It makes a statement that you command your material. When is the last time you saw movie credits on the big screen with black text on a white screen. White text on a black screen is much easier to read.

Lastly, some things need to be believed to be seen. That’s right. If you believe it, they will see it. Don’t go through the motions and build a product because you think it will make money. Only invest your time, energy and passion if you truly believe in your idea, and that you can help your customers solve a problem.

In many cases building a company is an act of faith. If you have it, and you make meaning, you will make money.

Today, Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of online graphic-design tool Canva, a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and an executive fellow at the University of California-Berkely’s Haas School of Business. He’s also the author of The Art of the Start 2.0 and The Art of Social Media and Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

It’s worth checking out Kawsaki’s Art of Innovation talk. If you want to discuss implementing the ideas listed above, reach out to me at jherrmann@business-journal.com.

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