In a very successful workshop six researchers practiced their pitches to an appreciative audience of their fellow researchers and the Engineering Department’s Visiting Professors of Innovation. Feedback covered content, timing, use of language and the value of props and prototypes.
We heard about subjects as wide ranging as tools to design new materials, how to manage scarce resources through your supply chain, voice recognition technology that actually works, inhaler design to optimise dose delivery, concrete with low environmental impact and a security approach that doesn’t need passwords.
Several messages emerged as keys to a successful pitch:
- Begin with a clear statement of the problem – and why it matters!
- Use the occasional factoid to bring the story to life – how big, how many, how significant?
- Where’s the end point? When will you have succeeded? Paint a picture to inspire.
- If you’re talking to a technical audience be careful of making any open ended claims – you may set them wondering if it’s feasible or thinking about how you might do it. And while they’re wondering that, they’ve stopped listening to you.
- If you’re asking for something then be very clear what’s in it for your target audience. Why should they help? What’s in it for them?
- End with a clear call to action – what do you want to happen next?
- Practice, practice, practice. Rehearsal eventually translates into relaxed confident competence.
PS: If you’re interested in any of the topics pitched, contact Charles Boulton (cb683 (at) cam.ac.uk) and he’ll be able to put you in touch with the relevant researchers.