When we start a new project, we generally think that making a couple of Powerpoint slides will be enough to easily explain the project’s concept and main benefits. We often underestimate that, most of the times, when people will ask us questions about our project, it will be orally in such unforeseen situations that we won’t have access to our deck.
Furthermore, for most of us, project leaders or CTOs, we sometimes suffer some form of difficulties to explain easily fundamental ideas hidden behind our project. As we are too much involved (for too long), our brain forgot that our audience have no clue of what we are trying to achieve.
Therefore, it may have a huge gap between what we think our audience understood and what our audience actually understood.
When you speak to stakeholders, first impression is key, and if your speech is too confusing and that your listeners frown after 10 secs, it is too late to seduce them again (No second chance). Each time, they will hear about your project, they will instantly remember this first negative impression.
The key to successful communications is to keep information flowing in the right logical direction.
Find below, few tips to clarify your speech and your decks.
1° Why, How and What
Before starting Eenox, my first company, I was software architect. I knew how to build products but I didn’t know to present them efficiently. 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 themselves without technical knowledges 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 pitch. 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. (the author explains better than me its own theory.)
Simon Sinek (Website here https://www.startwithwhy.com/ )
The author 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” example :
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 summarized 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.
2° Define a clear slogan
You need to have a strapline that will help you each time you need to quickly pitch your project. People remember slogans a lot more easier than the actual pitch. Slogan are wonderful marketing tools. Yours must be simple but logic and fully related to your product.
Most of slogans seems too simple, but, trust me! It is extremely hard to make it that way. It is a very difficult exercise to summarize a product in a few little words. But the making of your slogan will help you to better synthetise and zoom out on some perspective of your project that you didn’t have in mind yet : The User point of view.
For my first startup, 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 technology studies occupant’s movements inside buildings and offers proximity services via a mobile app. We 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 workplace”.
In order to obtain this version, we made different tests during several months and we talked a lot with external people to gather feedbacks.
The better way to find a slogan is brainstorming. With 2 or 3 people and a paperboard, organize a 2 hours workshop, brainstorm, summarize 3 potential slogans and finally expose them to some targeted people to get relevant feedbacks (Iterate this operation if necessary).
3° The Unique Value Proposition “UVP”
Last but not least, having a great unique value proposition is MANDATORY. Also known as the 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 the examples above describe products. It is just the value and main benefits of the offer. When you will try to define one for yourself, it should 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’s “Why, How and What”, you are definitely good to go share 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.