I’m preparing a speech that I’ll deliver next week to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs who are participating in a program that teaches them how to commercialize new technologies. My topic area is the venture pitch, and I’ve been asked to talk to them about public speaking.
There’s only one catch. I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to teach them anything.
Yes, you read that right. I’m not allowed to teach them anything. It’s a federally-funded program that follows a carefully defined curriculum, so technically anything that I say of an educational nature is a violation of some law!
But I specialize in finding creative ways to meet my clients’ needs, so I think I’ve come up with a solution we all can live with. I’m going to tell them stuff that’s so obvious, that any learning that takes place will surely be accidental. The worst that can happen is that I may be charged with involuntary education.
So here goes my first obvious point to them: You will probably lose. I haven’t told you anything that you don’t already know. Look around you, there are twenty teams here, so the odds are stacked against you. It’s a mathematical fact that you will probably lose. Sure, you may be thinking that you know that your team is better than everyone else’s, so the odds are much better for you. But everyone else here is probably thinking that, too, and you can’t all be right.
And it doesn’t get any easier when you leave the program. You actually have a much better chance of winning this competition than you have a chance of winning funding from a real investor with a real pitch. According to Chris Lipp, author of The Startup Pitch, a typical venture capitalist may hear 750 pitches a year and invest in only three.
So, yes, you will probably lose. And that’s the best part about the entire program.
You will probably lose, but you will definitely win.
By being a part of this program, you’ve already won. By participating in the training, you’ve already won. By shaping everything you’re doing with your business idea into the discipline of an eight-minute presentation, you will continue to win. By facing the gauntlet of questions after your presentation, you will win by gaining the experience and confidence that will help you continue to win when you leave these walls and this program. By facing a high probability of losing – and moving forward anyway, you have already won.
By the way, dear reader, if you’ve learned anything from this post, please let me know what you learned, so I can take it out.