Getting to the point where you have a working prototype can be a long but fulfilling road. By now, you’re so familiar with your own product that it’s probably hard to imagine what it looks like to an objective observer. You know everything about how it functions, what it’s designed for, and what you want people to notice when they first interact with it.
But if you’re going to present your product to potential investors or a manufacturer – in short, if you want to take it to market at all – you’ll have to be able to step back and observe your product as if you’re encountering it for the first time. It’s the only way to ensure that you craft a presentation that offers your audience the information they’ll need and want to know – not just what you want to tell them.
So how do you create an effective prototype presentation? In a sense, you do it the same way that you create any great presentation.
Set the scene, but be concise.
When you present your prototype, you probably won’t have tons of time – maybe 10 to 20 minutes. When you’re presenting to potential investors, it’s best to get to the point as quickly as you can without seeming inelegant. As Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, says, “Say what you’re doing as quickly as possible, preferably in the first sentence.”
The reason for this is that you don’t want people wondering why they’re listening to you for any longer than necessary. If you start off with a rambling story or details that don’t illustrate your point, you risk your audience getting bored, getting frustrated, or both.
When you’re presenting a prototype, start off strong by saying what you’ve created and why you created it. This should allow your listeners to mentally put your product in context and get ready for what you’re going to say next.
One important note: If you’re an excellent public speaker, you can probably get away with breaking some rules, including this one. If you know you’re great at crafting well-framed, funny, engaging presentations, just do what works for you – while ensuring that you cover all your product’s necessary details.
Refine your slides, then refine them some more.
Slides can work wonders for a presentation, emphasizing and driving home your most important points. Plus, they give the audience somewhere to look besides just at you – which can make everyone in the room a little more comfortable.
However, as Carmine Gallo writes in his Forbes article “11 Presentation Tips You Can Still Learn from Steve Jobs,” most people use way too much text on their slides. “The average PowerPoint slide has forty words. In the first three minutes of Steve Jobs’ iPhone presentation, he uses a grand total of nineteen words (twenty-one if you include dates). Those words are also distributed across about twelve slides,” he says.
When you’re creating your slides, go heavy on the visuals and edit your text down to the most important, effective words you can use. Then go back and cut half of those out.
Decide on your delivery.
Anyone who took a Speech class in high school knows just how important delivery is. There are essentially two ways to deliver your presentation: you can memorize it word-for-word, or you can use notecards.
Either method can be successful, but if you have the time and the presentation is important enough – if it’s for a meeting with investors who are already highly interested, for example – you should try to memorize.
If you do decide to memorize, however, make sure that you know your lines backward and forward. Otherwise, you can end up in what Chris Anderson of TED calls “the valley of awkwardness”: “Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience.”
If you don’t think you can get through this valley, Anderson advises, just stick to notecards and practice until you can get through them smoothly, with minimal referencing.
Giving a great prototype presentation can help propel your product toward a successful entrance into the market. Want to learn more about taking your new product to market? Read our blog post “A Brief Guide to Taking Your Product to Market: What Comes After Perfecting Your Product?“ If you’re still working on developing your prototype, read our e-book “Product Prototyping: Getting it Right the First Time.”