Entrepreneurs: practical tips on how to get your message across
Leading communication consultant Pippa Bateman on one of the greatest challenges facing entrepreneurs: how to get your message across
Pippa Bateman, a London-based communications expert, has years of experience assisting established business leaders and entrepreneurs deliver vital speeches and presentations. In many cases these events are pivotal to the success of an individual’s career or, where early-stage businesses are concerned, the entire venture.
Pippa spoke at a recent Cazenove Capital Entrepreneur Group event in London – and this is some of the advice she shared with attendees.
What does your day-to-day work look like?
I work with entrepreneurs, large businesses and private individuals to help them create and deliver powerful spoken messages, for example in preparation for a pitch, speech, investor presentation or launch. Every day is different. One day I’ll be helping a leadership team articulate their vision and strategy; the next I will be putting a management team through their paces in advance of meeting potential investors.
What do you think is the most powerful method of communication? And why?
For me, the most powerful method of communication will come from thinking about your audience. Ask why they should care about what you have to say and begin with that. Otherwise they are not going to pay attention. It is very easy to start communicating with the assumption that the people you are talking to are listening, but the truth is you need to work hard to get their attention. Your effectiveness as a communicator can’t be measured by what you say or how you say it: it can only really be measured by the impact you have on the audience, so you need to start with them.
What are your top tips for getting your message across?
First, you need to prepare. Think through what you are actually going to say.
Second, give your message a structure. Any piece of communication lands best when you have a clear beginning, middle and end to keep you and your audience on track.
Third, make sure you practise. Even if you are only preparing for a conversation rather than a speech or presentation, practice delivering the key messages out loud. Use the voice memo on your phone to record it so you can listen back to it and refine it. Is it clear? Are you rushing or mumbling? Are you using lots of verbal fillers?
How can an entrepreneur use communication to build trust with investors or customers?
Building trust matters because it inspires confidence, belief and ultimately commitment. One of the most effective ways to build trust is to give your audience a sense of who you are. This sounds obvious, but in high-pressure situations we tend to fall back on data and facts, both of which are important, but if you leave yourself out of the equation you risk not giving people enough to buy into your vision. So find ways to share your personality and values during the conversation.
What is the most effective way for an entrepreneur to articulate their brand proposition?
The single most important thing is to keep it simple. You should be able to explain your proposition in one memorable and compelling headline sentence.
You should also identify the “why” of your business. Most people find it relatively simple to talk about what they do and how they do it. What is harder, but more compelling, is to talk about why you do what you do. If you can articulate your overarching sense of purpose and your beliefs, you will more easily connect with your audience and inspire loyalty.
What are the key ingredients of a successful investor presentation?
First, know the detail behind your numbers really well, particularly when it comes to projections.
Second, anticipate questions. Try to be objective about your business case and identify any areas where you may be open to critique. Then lean into this harder stuff and ensure you have solid answers. When you are facing questions, listen with positive intent so that you can respond thoughtfully. It is easy to become defensive in the face of challenge, so remain open and warm as much as possible.
Third, balance your passion with calmness, because research shows that investors favour composed preparedness over enthusiasm.
If you could give just one piece of communications advice to entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Start building a story bank. Keep a notebook close to hand and use it to capture memorable moments, achievements and stories. That might be great feedback from a customer, or a moment when you felt particularly proud of your team. Stories are a brilliant way of building trust and injecting your communication with personality.
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