Communicate Effectively: You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

You’ve been selected as a guest on the Donnie Deutsch show to pitch “The Big Idea.” You have thirty seconds to describe your business and how it can benefit others.

What will you say? What do you want people to walk away with? How many people are watching the show and can benefit from your “Big Idea” or even provide funding?

There was one particular episode of “The Big Idea” that stood out to me. There was a panel of expert entrepreneurs there to provide constructive feedback to the entrepreneur on their “Big Idea.” Donnie introduced one of the guests and asked them to describe their business in thirty seconds. The business owner started to describe the business and began to fumble while explaining the product. I started to become unclear on the purpose of the business and how it could benefit me. Were they nervous from all the lights and cameras in the studio? Was it the panel of experts?

Well, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With more people out of work today, starting your own business is more of an appealing option to create income.  On online survey of 755 small business owners conducted by a Fortune Small Business/Zogby International indicated that 40 percent of entrepreneurs said they feel more secure having their own business than they would if they worked for a large firm (27 percent just as secure, 22 percent less and 8 percent not sure). Entrepreneurs may have a great business, but when it comes to communicating the product and vision, the message sometimes seems to get lost in translation. Why is that?  We are not all experts when it comes to presenting ideas, let alone speaking to a group of people. People fear public speaking, but let’s focus on an exercise that helps you confidently present your business to one or many future clients and investors.

Exercise 1. Keep these key questions in mind as they will come up during conversations about your business:

Why was this business created?

Who does it benefit and how?

How can we purchase your products and services and what is the cost?

Exercise 2. To help you answer these questions, do a brain dump of everything you know about your business. If you have a business plan, pull some information from there as well.  If you don’t have one, maybe it’s time to start creating one. I would even include the S.W.O.T. Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.) from the business plan. 

Strengths: What does your business offer that your competitor’s may not offer?

Better distribution channels

Niche market

Weaknesses: What are some of the objections a customer may have to not select your business?

New to the market place

Limited product and service offering

Opportunities: What external factors will allow your business to prosper?




Threats: What threats would impact your business?


Substitutes in the market place

Exercise 3. Now that you have your thoughts on paper, start putting some structure around your responses to the questions above.  You only have thirty seconds to make your pitch and you want it to count. 

Write out your main points on what you want to say. Create variations, some may be short and some may be long. Have a business partner, mentor, family member or friend ask you questions about your business and practice giving responses to the questions so you feel comfortable when it’s time. Your network does not want to see you fail, so ask them for honest and constructive feedback. In fact, have several different people from your trusted network ask you different questions about your business, so you get used to the different styles.  Have some in a formal and informal setting. If you have a camcorder, record yourself so you can see how you look when you’re giving your responses. 

Some questions to ask yourself and the person working with you on your responses: 

Do you seem confident and natural about what you’re discussing?

Does it look like you’re thinking about what you want to say? 

Do you “um” and “uh” when responding? 

Make sure your responses feel and sound natural like you are having a conversation with the other person. You want to look very knowledgeable when talking about your business. Repeat this exercise as much as possible until you become comfortable. It will be valuable for you as you begin to speak to more people about your business. Make it easy for people to understand what you do, so they can easily promote your business to their network.

You got the call from Donnie Deutsch to pitch your “Big Idea.” Who knows how many people may be watching the show that evening. With the exercise that you completed, you will now feel more comfortable and confident talking about your business, not just to Donnie, but future clients and investors as well.