How much does not simplifying cost? For one company on Shark Tank last week, it cost them $2,000,000 and a chance to get a shark on their team.
As you probably guessed, as a presentation coach (and being married to a brand marketer), I am an avid Shark Tank watcher. If you’re not familiar with the show on ABC, Shark Tank is a reality TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their companies to five [or six] extremely successful business investors, known as sharks. The sharks have an opportunity to ask questions and sometimes try the product before offering to invest in the entrepreneurs’ companies.
Last week’s episode (season 8, episode 10), included the founders of Nootrobox, “a nootropics and biohacking startup based in San Francisco. The startup makes supplements and software for cognitive and human enhancement and organizes a grassroots community to help members be the best version of themselves. One of their flagship products is GO CUBES Chewable Coffee.” [source: ABC.com ]
After hearing the pitch for $2 million for just 5% of the company, all of the sharks passed on the deal for one simple reason – they didn’t get it. None of the sharks understood what the company did, what they sold, or the benefits of their main product. One shark, (technology innovator Robert Herjavec) even said when you come into the tank with the biggest deal in the show’s history [a $40 million valuation], you need to explain your value. They all cited that the company’s main product, a chewable coffee, looked like a sugar cube and their pitch didn’t overcome that misconception.
Don’t think these are the first entrepreneurs to go on Shark Tank and miss out on a deal for the sharks to invest in their company because the sharks simplify didn’t get it. I’ve seen dozens of pitches on the show where the business owner didn’t explain their product/service, their background, their future aspirations, or how a shark can help their company.
Think this missed opportunity doesn’t relate to you? You’re wrong!
Every business person communicates with clients, prospective clients, vendors, and other team members daily. If you can’t communicate so the other person is on the same page, it costs you. It may not cost you millions of dollars like this example on Shark Tank, but miscommunication costs valuable time and money, which really adds up over time. Miscommunication is especially costly in sales if you can’t explain the value quickly and easily (in particular, when you have a high price tag).
My presentation coaching is usually for bid presentations and content marketing/thought leadership. The ROI of simplification and good communication is fairly evident and easy to prove with those categories. (I’ve helped clients win dozens of bid presentations worth millions of dollars and helped thought leaders drive leads and increase their hourly rates.)
I’ve also worked with company owners that are nervous to speak to their employees and feel they’re wasting time reexplaining themselves and with employees reworking tasks because of the miscommunication. Similarly, I’ve coached aspiring executives that need to hone their communication skills, including writing business emails, to sound like an executive and show that they are ready for that promotion and big pay raise.
My passion for working with technical presenters isn’t about the money.
When I worked with the local zoo and did over 1,000 presentations in just 5 years, I found my favorite animals were the misunderstood ones like the opossum. Many people fear opossums for no logical reason and I educated them to at least appreciate them (and not kill them). Helping technical professionals be understood is the same as ensuring that opossums are not misunderstood. The money is the end result of the audience understanding, which requires simplification and being audience-centric. An audience does not necessarily mean hundreds of people in an auditorium either. Your audience can be a client on the phone, a selection committee of three people sitting across the table, a group of employees reading an email, or a dozen people on a webinar.
I built my entire presentation coaching and SpeakU curriculum course around being understood and delivering a strong presentation. After all, a well-delivered presentation that no one understands is a failure. In contrast, if the audience understands the message, they still gauge the presentation as being successful even if the delivery was just fair. People see through the glitz of a well-spoken speaker if the “meat” isn’t there, yet they remember relatable messages for years.
Learn to simplify your message and relate to your audience so it doesn’t cost you another missed opportunity.