Aug 072014
 August 7, 2014  Posted by at 4:17 am No Responses »

Plywood PresentsThis evening I attended Plywood Presents. I had never heard of Plywood Presents until Charlie Paparelli invited me last week to attend as his guest. I went to the event website and to be honest, even after reading the website, I had no idea what to expect. But I love Charlie and he knows me well so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I’m glad I did! Plywood Presents brings together entrepreneurs, non-profits, artists, and business people for a TEDx style event focused on social innovation. I saw some awesome speakers, met a lot of passionate and interesting folks, and even had the opportunity to be on the judging panel for their pitch competition.

One of the speakers was Jeff Henderson, who gave a talk on how to pitch. What made this presentation unique is Jeff is lead pastor of Gwinnett Church, one of the churches that make up North Point Ministries.  Earlier in his career he was in marketing with Chick-Fil-A.  His talk targeted the non-profits and social entrepreneurs in the audience who often needed to pitch their ideas for funding. As he gave his talk I quickly realized he’s an awesome communicator – it’s no wonder he has such a following as a pastor! I also realized his advice gives a unique perspective and applies equally well to pitching your startup for funding, so I put together a summary of his key points.

  • Dream big. If your dream outstrips the resources you have to chase it – you are on the right track. If you have all you need, you aren’t dreaming big enough.
  • Great ideas communicated poorly are stalled ideas.
  • Jeff told us how he gives great presentations. First he approaches each presentation with the attitude that his next presentation will be his best. And that’s what he expects.
  • To make that a reality he follows a 3-step process: Prepare, Practice, Present.

When preparing he suggested you answer 4 questions before you put together your presentation.

  1. What does my audience currently think?
  2. What do I want them to think?
  3. What is my single most persuasive idea?
  4. What do I want them to do?

If you want to give a great presentation you have to record yourself presenting and watch it.  Do this 7 times before giving the actual presentation.


His top tips for presenting were:

  • Smile more – when you smile they will smile back
  • Use a visual. The human mind starts to tune out after 10 minutes; visuals bring it back in focus. He shared an example from a school presentation his daughter had to give on ovens. She baked cookies ahead of time, asked the audience to close their eyes, and placed a cookie on each students’ desk. When they opened their eyes, she told them to enjoy the cookie and she was going to tell them about how they are made in an oven. I bet she had the full attention of her audience!
  • Edit. The shorter the better.
  • Always end by telling them what you need and asking, “will you help me?” Then shut up. It may feel awkward, but that’s the best way to get a ‘yes’.

It was pretty clear he followed his own advice in preparing for his talk at Plywood Presents. I’m going to refer back to his advice before my next presentation – and make it my best.