Learnings from 6 Stages in 4 Days

My colleague Omar (Statice Co-founder and Data Science/Privacy Lead) and I spent the past 2 weeks on the road (my learnings about plane-free travel here). It was a very productive trip: we met great people, and closed some exciting new deals. We also spent time on stage in Nürnberg (pitching as finalist at the UP19 Awards, part of Germany’s largest IT and CyberSec fair), Zürich, and Bern, and I wanted to summarise some of my learnings from the concentrated stage time.

One caveat: I hate being on stage, and I’m not good at it. I’m trying to get better though, and these musings about what worked, and what didn’t, is part of that. These are personal observations, and YMMV.

Short presentations are hard. Most of the short presentations we did were pitches, and one is never sure how relevant the audience is, to which level they understand the details of your area (Statice is a relatively specific solution for data anonymization, and people don’t always get the problem right away), or to which level they’re interested at all. I think to get better at these I just need to go for rote learning. So far I’ve been trying to wing it a bit, and that doesn’t get the result I’m looking for – it’s not terrible, but it’s not great, and I’m very uncomfortable.

Presenting about an area you are really excited about makes it a whole lot easier. I was lucky enough to get invited to present at Panter’s AI Morning’s event, and was able to present my thoughts on building data businesses on enterprise data exhausts. This is an area which I’m super into, and could present specific value to that audience.

Not that I’m not super excited about presenting Statice in general, because I am. It’s just harder to judge what the audience is expecting during a pitch, vs when they turn up as a response to an event/content that you put together yourself.

Having a memorable anchor works well. In our slides and pitches we use a comment about “data being the new oil”. We iterated on this during the trip, and started adding “and at Statice, we want to help our customers avoid being the next BP”. This often got laughs, and people approached me about it afterwards several times. All credit to Omar for that one, it was his idea, and it works great.

Takeaways for me to work on going forward:

  • Prepare short pitches without slides (1-3 minutes) by simple rote learning. My hypothesis is that this will make me feel more comfortable and less nervous, vs pitching on the fly.
  • For longer pitches with slides, learn the crux messages by rote. Doing them on the fly works fine, but having it memorised in advance would reduce pressure and nervousness upfront and let me focus on delivery (this wasn’t really an option on this trip as we were building decks every day!).
  • Prepare more in advance. Building decks last minute is always hectic. Sometimes leads to great iterations, but is high stress. This wasn’t much of an option on this trip, as we are simply too thin on the commercial side at the moment, but it’s something to aspire to once we hire more (if you’re interested in working at the cutting edge of B2B privacy technology, drop me a line!).