Tag Archives: presentation

7 Fatal Voice Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make when Pitching

3dBook_Cover_Voiceable_03_600x824Why some of the things you can’t even hear yourself saying may be killing your pitch and ruining your first Impressions

In my head I sound like George Clooney – deep and sexy. But when I hear a recording of myself, I’m reminded more of Stevie Urkel. The voice inside my head is a lie. Inside your head too.

It´s a universal human phenomenon. If you are like most human beings, then you dislike the sound of your recorded voice. You avoid it. You certainly don’t want to work on it.

Think about this for a moment… Your voice is your most important communication tool, and yet you cannot really hear yourself like others hear you. If you cannot hear yourself properly, then how can you be certain that your voice is not sabotaging your messages and sending conflicting signals?

Have you ever heard someone say one thing, and yet you suspect they mean something entirely different? Like a slippery used car salesman who promises one thing while your suspicions start to scream that it might be a completely different can of worms? Like an American presidential candidate whose words say one thing, but the voice gives you a completely different message?

Maybe you are telling the truth or maybe not, but the voice inside your head is a lie. We are all deaf to our own voices. We don’t like them. We don’t want to hear ourselves. We think we are better than we truly are.

Maybe that is why we never even think of the fact that we can actually choose many different voices to go along with and strengthen specific messages in our speeches and our presentations.

«If you cannot hear yourself properly, then how can you be certain that your voice is not sabotaging your messages and sending conflicting signals?»

But it gets worse. It’s not only that you can´t hear yourself, but whenever you take the stage to present or stand up to lead a meeting, your listeners are going to instantly judge you. According to numerous research studies, first impressions are made within the blink of an eye. Within as short a time as 30 seconds or less, audiences will already have judged your personality. If they find you to be dynamic, then they will tune you in. If they find you to be boring, then their minds will escape other places and you will fight an uphill battle the remainder of your pitch or presentation trying to win them back.

And the newest research and neuroscience shows that your voice is absolutely a key element. During the first 30 seconds, it isn’t as much your words as your voice.

Your facial expressions and body language are very important, and most of us know this. But how much have you considered the impact your voice has? Your voice is how audiences will judge complicated things like personality. Your voice will quickly establish whether you sound competent or clueless on your topic. Your voice is how audiences will judge whether you sound credible and trustworthy or not trustworthy. Your voice is how audiences will judge whether you sound authentic or if you are just faking It. This is the harsh reality. You will be instantly judged and your voice is a key element.

«This is the harsh reality. You will be instantly judged and your voice is a key element.»

If the first problem is that you cannot hear yourself, and the second is that you will be judged, then the third problem is that most people don’t believe that they can change their voices. They just assume that they have the voice that they were born with and that’s it. Nothing can be done about it. This is very, very wrong. And it is a lot easier to take control of your voice than you probably realize.

Next time you leave a voice message for example, stop for a moment to think about what messages (aside from the content) you are transmitting with your voice. What was the tone? Was there a friendliness in your voice? Was there urgency? Did you signal that you were stressed? Angry? Depressed? Bored? … or just nothing. Was your message completely devoid of any emotion? Is that truly what you intended? Are you the kind of speaker that others will want to listen to?

«Are you the kind of speaker that others will want to listen to?»

You are used to listening to other people’s voices, but how often do you take time out to listen to your own? Most voice mail is ill-prepared, dull and can be difficult to understand. Because one’s own voice sounds acceptable in one’s head, many people don’t bother to project their voice or to add any emotion to it. Rather, they let it dribble down their chins leaving the listener with an impression of sloppiness, or at worst complete incomprehension.

Your voice is your most powerful communication tool. You must own your own voice! Take charge of the airwaves. Learn how to harness the full power of your authentic speaking voice.

Click here to sign-up for a free 15 page report entitled: You Can’t HEAR Yourself, 7 Fatal Voice Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make When Pitching.

The Secret to Pitching your Business in 30 seconds

If you can’t tell me in 30 seconds what you do and what you want, then I am not buying, investing or probably even listening any longer (except out of politeness).

While serving as an expert reviewer at venture contests I have heard hundreds of entrepreneurs pitch their ideas. Sadly to say very, very few get it right. Often I am left completely clueless about what their real business models and concepts are. I fail to understand what is unique and what would compel me to either invest or get involved. Help is sorely needed!

The Easy Solution

Successfully pitching a business idea in 30 seconds is much simpler than most people realize. And by the way… if you cannot do it in 30 seconds, then you wont be able to do it in 30 minutes either! My first piece of advice would be to select a model that works rather than experimenting on your own. There are many different models that we teach at Quickminds, but perhaps the simplest and best is the Message Map.

Build a Message Map in 3 simple steps.

Step 1: First, you need to write a simple Key Message Statement. Treat it like a Twitter message. Twitter has taught us several great communication messages. First Twitter has trained us to write short messages. They are limited to 140 characters, so you must think about brevity and clarity. Second, Twitter has trained us to write powerful messages. They are all designed to get you to take action (either to click on a link, to attend an event, or to write to your congressman).  To be compelling, your Key Message also needs to include a claim. Claims stake out the territory and qualify your offering. Do you dare to claim that your product can increase your customer’s profit $$ by 50%? Don’t be dishonest, but don’t be overly conservative. This is one of the hardest tasks for engineers and programmers, who want to be exact and perfectly factual in all statements. Find a way to make a compelling claim and you will grab the interest of your audience immediately. Write your Key Message Statement like a tweet and put it at the centre of the page.

Step 2: Write three Supporting Points. Select the three (and only three) points you need to make in order to back-up your Message Statement. A chair with only two legs will not stand on its ‘own. A chair with five legs is just too complicated. Three is the perfect number. Select points that have importance and emotional appeal to your listener. Remember to think from their viewpoint and not just from your own. What are the real benefits of your product or service? What will buying from you really do to benefit this person? Save them time? Earn them money? Make them look good with the girls? Write each of the 3 points onto the Map.

Step 3: Finally you should write at least 3 Evidence descriptions for each of the Points. Evidence can be in the form of statistics, examples, quotes from experts or even a simple story that illustrates the point. Choose anything that validates your claim and that gives your listener an emotional reason to want to learn more about your product or service. Have some fun with this! The more fun you have in telling about your business, the more likely you are to connect with your audience and to win their business.

The Most Common Reason for Failure

Crafting a good message will give you an invaluable tool for your business. Too many entrepreneurs spend all their time perfecting their technology, but forget to do even the most basic work on creating their message. In my experience this is one of the most common reasons for failure.  Invest time into your Message Map.

Practice Makes Perfect

Also remember to practice. This sounds like stupid advice, but is often forgotten. Only through practicing the delivery of your message will you get better. I have competed in and won several elevator pitch contests. I wrote my pitch, then I re-wrote it about a dozen times until I felt it was perfect. I practiced on friends, family, colleagues and even strangers. I kept re-writing until it got better and better (also shorter and shorter!). Pay as much attention to this as you do to your technology or products and I assure you that you will see huge improvements in your sales and pitching efforts.

Example of Message Map: 

We can help!

Want some help in creating a message map for your business? Contact us today.

Quickminds turns boring presenters into powerful communicators by using some of the world’s most cutting-edge, unique, innovative and inspiring techniques. Visit www.quickminds.net

Spiderman’s Vulnerability


Whether you are standing onstage in an auditorium speaking to an audience of 1000 or meeting a new client for the very first time, you will not succeed in influencing others unless you are able to connect with them first. Connection is absolutely essential to communication, especially if the message is important to you and to your audience. Connection is absolutely essential if you are going to persuade and to influence others.

So many leaders and entrepreneurs understand this point and yet as soon as they open their mouths, they forget the basics. Connection comes first, then communication. Only after deep communication is persuasion possible. But how do great speakers connect with their audiences?

One of the ways is through showing vulnerability. In a fantastic TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown explains that vulnerability is essential to us connecting as human beings.  Without vulnerability, we cease to be perceived as human.

As a teenage boy I loved reading superhero comics. Having supernatural powers is a great fantasy. All superheroes had great strengths, but they all had their weaknesses as well. Superman was powerful, except when he was around the metal Kryptonite. The big green Hulk was stronger than anyone, but he had a big heart and weakness for children (and babes of course).  My all-time favorite comic book character was always Spiderman. Spidey was a teenage boy who was able to do amazing athletic stunts, but he also was constantly plagued with doubt and insecurity. He didn’t choose to be a hero. A radioactive spider bit him and then fate would never leave him alone. His greatest vulnerability was his self-doubt and every episode was really about him trying to overcome this trait. It was the internal struggles rather than the external struggles that defined his defeats and his victories. Without being vulnerable, then superheroes are not interesting. By being vulnerable they reflect our own lives. The more they show us their weakness, the greater their victories and the more we connect with them.

Such is also true with great communication. Without vulnerability, there is less likelihood of connection. Connection is a result of Authenticity and authentic speakers connect and influence. How authentic are you as a speaker? Do you allow your audience see the real you and your own vulnerabilities? What can you do to connect more deeply with your audiences?

Want to learn how to communicate better with your customers? We can help. Contact me at Quickminds (www.quickminds.net) and schedule a meeting with us.

p.s., Thanks to Annicken Rød, Culture Evangelist at Cisco for the inspiration for this blog post.