When we start a new project, we generally think that making a couple of Powerpoint slides will be enough to easily explain its underlying concepts and main benefits. We often underestimate the fact that most of the times, when people will ask about our project, it will be orally in such unforeseen situations that we won’t have access to our decks.
Furthermore, for most of us, project leaders or whatever, we sometimes suffer from difficulties to explain easily the fundamental idea hidden behind our project. As we are too much involved in it (for too long), our brain forgot that there is a strong probability that our audience have no clue of what we are doing.
Therefore, it may have a huge gap between what we think our audience understood and what our audience truly understood.
Keep in mind that when you speak to stakeholders, first impression is key, and if your speech is too confusing and that your listener frown after 10 secs, you’re screwed. Each time, he will hear about your project, he will instantly remember this first negative impression.
The key to successful communication is to keep information flowing in the right logical direction.
Find below, few tips to clarify your speech and your decks I learned during the last decade.
Before starting, Eenox, my first company, I was a software architect, I knew how to build software products but I didn’t know to present them efficiently in front of an audience or during an elevator pitch. I remember each time someone asked me what I was doing, I started to sputter something like : “I created a website where people can create, by themselves without technical knowledge, other websites for mobiles, tablets and computers. A little bit like Powerpoint for decks…”. It was true but DAMN, I was absolutely not selling any dream with that kind of sentence. Later, I saw a TED talk and discovered a concept that radically change my way to explain any project.
I strongly advise you to look at this TED talk yourself as the author explains better than me its theory.
Simon Sinek (Website here https://www.startwithwhy.com/ )
The author’s advice to start any presentation by the “Why”, then the “How” and finally the “What”.
The “Why” is the reason your project exists, the higher cause you believe in, the big problem you want to solve.
Everytime you talk about your project, you should directly start explaining why.
Then explain the “How”, which will describe how you solved the problem.
Finally comes the “What”, your “What” could be a mobile app, a book, etc. For example, for RocketBootstrapper.com, the “What” is a website.
In its video, Simon demonstrates the “Apple” examples :
Apple’s “Why” :
“We believe in challenging the status quo; we believe in thinking differently.”
Their design and engineering talent. They will challenge the status quo by using amazing designs and prioritizing simple user experience.
Apple’s “What” is their products: iPhones, iPads, iMacs, and MacBooks.
To summarize its concept, Simon Sinek presents what he called the Golden circle. The Golden circle recapitulates the idea behind “Why, How and What”
Why - This is the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists.
How - This is how the business fulfills that core belief.
What - This is what the company does to fulfill that core belief.
Do you know your project’s “why”? It is not easy to define, even after doing the exercise more than once, I still struggle to make it right but knowing this pattern helped me a lot.
You need to have a strapline that will help you each time you need to quickly pitch your project. People remembers slogans a lot more easier than the rest, there are wonderful marketing tools. Yours must be simple but logic and fully related to your product.
Most of the time some of them seems too simple, but, trust me! It is extremely hard to make it that way. It is a very complex exercise to summarize a product in a few little words but the making of your slogan will help you to better synthesize and zoom out on some perspective of your project that you maybe didn’t have in mind : The User point of view.
For my first startup “Eenox”, the main product was a WYSIWYG editor making mobile and tablet compatible websites, the slogan ended up to be “Draw your web”.
For my last startup “Jooxter”, our innovative product studies occupant’s movements inside buildings and offers proximity services via a mobile app. The company provide features like: colleague finder, resource finder, path finder, etc. Our goal is to make life at work easier making building’s occupants happier in their workplace. The slogan is “Joining people and workplaces”.
In order to obtain this version, we realised different trials during several months, we talked a lot with external people to gather feedback.
The better way to find a slogan is brainstorming. With 2 or three people and paperboard, organize a 2 hours workshop, brainstorm, summarize 3 potential slogans and finally expose them to some targeted people to get relevant feedback (Iterate this operation if necessary).
Last but not least, having a great unique value proposition is MANDATORY. Also known as a unique selling proposition (USP), your UVP is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your user’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.
There is a lot to say on this specific subject and I will surely dedicate an entire post about UVP later.
Value proposition is something real humans are supposed to understand. (It’s for people to read. It’s not a slogan or a catch phrase.)
Here are examples of good UVP :
Stripe : Stripe makes it easy to start accepting credit cards on the web today.
Evernote : Remember Everything, (Capture anything, Access anywhere, Find things fast.)
Skype : Wherever you are, Wherever they are - Skype keeps you together.
You will notice that none of those examples describe products. It is just the value and main benefits of the offer. It seems obvious when you read those examples but when you try to define one for yourself, it will help you to understand the thin boundaries between product, features and benefits. Once again, it is absolutely not easy to get your final UVP, don’t hesitate to iterate and to A/B test some alternatives if necessary.
The point is, once you have an UVP, a slogan and clearly in mind the difference between your project “Why, How and What”, you are definitely good to go sharing your idea and demonstrate your project’s ambition. You will be understood right away by any stakeholders that you will cross on your way to success.