Pitching Self Assessment

Sam Billingham in Venture Culture

Please don’t be put off by this wall of text, it was part of my assignment to write over 1000 words. I’m going to share a little on how I feel my two pitches went, my original two minute pitch for ‘Home Automation’ and my more recent five minute pitch for ‘Synapse’ both on ideas for venture culture.

My two minute presentation was based around creating a platform for builders of home automation to sell their service to buyers, cutting out the big corporation, adding in local people and significantly reducing cost to the buyer. Although I thought my idea was pretty good (and still do) over time in-between my first pitch and preparing for my 5 minute pitch I decided to change my idea to something I was more passionate about and could enjoy working towards. I began creating my memories app/platform, which I thought was a better idea and really believed in it and I honestly say it was a great move, however this change left me with more work and more stress but I think it showed through in my pitch how much I pushed for my new idea to be ready and just as complete even though I had switched.

My first pitched clocked in at around one minute falling short by 50% partly because I was talking too fast but mainly because I was unprepared, something I promised to myself wouldn’t happen again. For my five minute pitch I practised my with slides multiple times before and even to my housemates a few times, gaining confidence with each run-through. Although second time around I went of track slightly a couple times I was able to continue and didn’t forget anything I wanted to say, I refrained from talking off topic nonsense and finished up at 4minutes and 50 seconds, a much better result.

With both pitches I think I explained my idea well, even with my quick talking my home automation platform seemed to be understood and I received some relevant positive questions. I made sure to include relevant examples of how my product would be used in real world scenario’s in the second pitch, I think this helps to communicate my idea very quickly. I received 2 questions about Synapse, both with a positive focus and I answered them in the same vein, positively.

Confidence can sometimes be hard to come by, especially presenting in front of 35 other often quite judgmental classmates but I think believing in your idea, doing the research and lots of practise gives you all you need. I put a lot of work into my idea Synapse and can honestly say it was the one presentation I most looked forward to this term, yes I was of course a little nervous but I think my excitement out weighed it by a larger margin. I put a lot of effort into my slides which i think gave me that extra boost while presenting. Something to be proud of.

During my first pitch it was just a stand up and talk exercise so there wasn’t anything technically that could go wrong, on the other hand we needed to create slides for our five minute pitch which always adds another possible problem. Trying to reduce technical faults as much as possible I had tested my slides in the room we used to present after making a couple to ensure they would work, the projector we use has notable contrast issues and I wanted to adjust for this and make sure it wasn’t a problem. Saul and myself even went into university the night before our presentations to make sure the new white board wall was throughly cleaned and the project/computer was set up correctly. Unfortunately someone must have used the room prior to our 1 o’clock session, changing the settings on the computer but nobody seemed to either notice or do anything about it, this lead to many peoples presentations not displaying correctly or them having to adapt there presentations in the session prior to speaking. As my solution was responsive I was un effected by the changed computer settings, although I did try to fix it ( for other after me) quickly before I spoke but was encouraged to start anyway because of time issues.

I decided to use reveal.js an awesome framework for creating presentations using HTML, (why not try something new and combine other skills) I was able to then host this on my website, it looked fantastic and is accessible form anywhere with an internet connection and browser, I’m saying goodbye to powerpoint from now on. An awesome feature of using my online version of slides is using my iPhone as a remote control, I tested this prior to the presentation in the room we would use. Saul a classmate had previously had difficult a few pitches before mine using the same system, I ditched it for the keyboard when I too realised it would not work for me (this is what causes my slides to move seemingly automatically after 18 seconds but it was just the swipe on my phone from before I started, some nice lag there). We tested after everyone left and it worked perfectly again, after a couple more tests we deduced the service only didn’t work because many classmates were using the wi-fi in the room either on their laptops or phones. It’s not a massive deal but I think using your phone by your side looks more professional than having to stand next to a keyboard. It was disappointing to me for a number of reasons firstly because people were busy on their phones not listening to the pitch i was giving and secondly the idea that use of technology was diminished (Our course has a big focus on the use of the ‘latest tech’) by other being disrespectful during a pitch.

Although maybe not the most important aspect I realise in my first pitch I was wearing shorts and a random t-shirt from working at summer camp, maybe not the best idea. I tried to fix my attire during my five minute pitch but that didn’t mean I wore a suite,(not that you shouldn’t, looking swish is always a great option) but as a designer and developer I chose otherwise. I threw some black trousers on, a design focused crew neck, I had a hair cut and even attempted to grow some designer stubble although it was in vain, all in all I think the effort showed.

To conclude I think both pitches went well but there was still a vast improvement on my five minute pitch. I’m looking forward to next terms work.

Published January 01, 2013 by Sam Billingham in Venture Culture