Talk Nerdy to Me

I have had the privilege of working with some of the smartest people on the planet; software developers, aerospace engineers, and robotics specialists. Whether you are selling software, combat avionics systems, or wearable technology, one of your challenges is breaking down the complex into terms that an audience with a range of technical capabilities will understand.

Scientists ask why. Engineers ask how. Customers, however, ask how much it costs and what value the product will bring. When I teach scientists and engineers about understanding their audiences in order to attract investors and close deals, I stress these points:

Speak in User Friendly Terms

Modify the way you present your product to account for varied levels of technical expertise. I don’t mean to imply you should “dumb it down”, but make sure you’re articulating the facts clearly and succinctly. You are looking for the perfect intersection of product information and matching value need your potential joint venture partner has.

Start with three main points in your presentation, research shows that people can only remember three ideas at a time. You can always take more in-depth questions later. It also doesn’t hurt to draw pictures to explain concepts, do a demo or give your audience something to touch and feel.

Calibrate Your Presentation Style

You are not just selling your product. You are selling yourself. People will remember you as much or more than the product itself.

The importance the customer places on you in relation to the attributes of the product varies depending on cultural background and country location.

-In the Middle East or Latin America, potential customers will place more value on knowing and trusting you than on the product itself (at least that will be their FIRST concern). Share more of your personal background and get to them as individuals first.

-In Central and Eastern Europe, the product will be the primary focus but people still want you to come across as credible and interesting. Share your credentials and training to establish trust.

-In the US, you want to amp up your selling persona; American customers are accustomed to more extreme sales tactics. US audiences like showiness, hyperbole, and attention-grabbing strategies.

As this post notes, you have to customize your presentations and your demos. Do the background research to understand the priorities of your audience. You can learn a lot from something as simple as following a potential investor’s LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed.

Network Before and After the Presentation

Be purposeful in planning not just the content of your presentation, but the ways your audience will be able to remain in touch with you. Make sure you leave time after your presentation to talk 1:1 with potential investors.

Package your contact information in such a way that the audience member can easily look you up afterwards. Design a unique QR code, incorporate your social media information on a creative card, do an activity that gives you THEIR information so you can be proactive about follow-up.

High tech products are proliferating the marketplace. If it’s your job to invent one of these products, it may be tempting to stay back at the lab. Applying these simple strategies, along with intelligence and tenacity, will help you get out and share the exciting new developments you’re working on – and get credit for them.

Before an important event, contact Melissa to refine your presentation and presentation style.

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