Pitching-practice as 657 - Oslo Startup Day.

Is ANYBODY listening?

Two ears and one mouth. I guess you are the same. Why then, does nobody listen? As an entrepreneur pitching your idea every day, might it be your own fault?

People love to talk and especially love to talk about themselves and the things they’re interested in. It’s not so important what the other person says in response. We just let them talk for a while to catch our breath or take a sip of water before we continue our story. And probably the other person feels the same way. So in fact the whole situation is basically two monologues happening simultaneously.

But what if we actually want the other person to listen to what we are communicating and then to respond…hopefully in a way we want? As an entrepreneur you need to get attention, so ergo you will need to talk and you will need for the listener to actually listen and be engaged in what you have to say.

For the last couple of decades, marketing has slowly moved from the mass marketing of the 60s “Mad Men” to a more and more personalized, customized and targeted communication aiming to catch us one by one. In a way this shift can be described as a movement from “listen to what I have to tell you” to “what do you want to hear”. Companies understand that the more I know about the recipient, the better I can communicate, and the better the effect will be.

So why is it so that this simple principle often gets lost when the message is communicated orally? Why is it that the minute we start to talk we get drawn into your own mindset and start rumbling on? I think it’s because we don’t listen before we talk.

Let’s take a step back and think about what happens in our mind when we listen. Often when we listen (really listen, not just pretending) our mind adjust to what we hear. So what and how we communicate after is more precise and relevant for the listener…and therefore is more likely to give better effect. In this relation I believe that listening can also be represented by other senses like what we see and feel. An image can say more than a thousand words, and so can a situation.

Learning to be a good communicator, or pitcher, if you like, is not only about being good with words. It’s about understanding the audience, the person, the situation and then adjust what to say and how to say it in a way so that the message actually end up where it should and actually has an impact.

Thursday May 7, 657 and Oslo Business Region gathered 100 great startups in Oslo to practice the skill of good communication. Skills that hopefully can be the difference between a sale or not, or between a new contract or not. In the end that’s what good communication is all about.

The workshop was held by for.andre, a member of the 657 co-working space. Their key to succeeding with you pitch was many. Here are some highlights:

  1. Start with a humble and human opening. Make the audience feel like they are the most important in the room. You are there for them.
  1. The audience is thinking: What’s in it for me?…and so should you. Make them feel important and include them.
  1. Create sympathy and bring the audiences’ guard down. Focus on the atmosphere you want to create and what you want the audience to think and feel.
  1. Think relevance. Make the story fit your audience. Be personal.
  1. Look at the listeners. Make pauses. Breathe.
  1. Describe selected details.
  1. Rehearse in advance.

The magic formula for content should be:

ETHOS – Credibility – 10%

LOGOS – Logic, evidence and data 25%

PATHOS – Emotional appeal – 65%

What to learn from one of the best? Look at human rights lawyer Brian Stevenson at Ted Talk:

Well, enough talk from me. Until next time…if you’re even listening anymore.

Key metrics from the event:


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Posted on: May 8. 2015
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