Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action Part 2,

By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series in which I share the specific things GuyKawasaki did so well in his keynote presentation at the Invent Your Future conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California.

You might want to have an upcoming presentation in mind while you’re reading this to get maximum benefit.

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action - Sam Horn

What’s a situation you’ve got coming up in which you’ll be asking for approval, funding, support or a yes?

Who’s the decision-maker? Who has the power or authority to give you the green light or the support you need to move ahead with this idea or initiative?

What’s that person’s frame of mind? Or who will be in the audience and how receptive or resistant do you anticipate they’ll be?

Factor that into how you design and deliver your remarks – and use these techniques that were so masterfully modeled by Guy – to increase the likelihood you’ll have them at hello.

4. Guy had the courage to be counter-intuitive.

“Only dead fish swim with the stream all the time.” – Linda Ellerbee

The quickest way to lose an audience is to state the obvious.

The quickest way to engage an audience is to state the opposite.

Think about it. If you agree with everything a speaker says, why listen? The speaker is just confirming what you already know; not stretching you or teaching you anything new.

For example, he made a flat out recommendation, “EVERY ONE should go see the movie Never Say Never with Justin Bieber.”

As you can imagine, that got a “Really?!” response from this high-powered group of entrepreneurs and executives.

He then backed up his claim by saying, “It will teach you everything you need to know about marketing. Watch how Justin goes into the crowd before concerts and gives tickets to little girls who don’t have tickets.
Watch how. . . . “

He then upped the ante by promising, “If you don’t like the movie, I’ll give you your money back.” THAT’s putting a stake in the ground.

We appreciate speakers who have a passionate point of view – who dare to address (vs. tip toe around) the elephants in the room. Speakers who challenge our assumptions and admit the emperor has no clothes cause us to rethink what we “knew to be true.” They serve us at a higher level because we walk out wiser than we walked in.

5. Guy honors his family, mentors and contributors.

I want compassion to be the new black.” – American Idol judge Steven Tyler

Guy began by acknowledging a mentor in the audience, Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, who encouraged him to write. He frequently referenced colleagues including a special shout out to:

Facebook marketing guru Mari Smith in her trademark turquoise

Guy talked openly about his love for his wife, kids and parents and shared several “from the home front” stories of neighborhood hockey games, backyard bar-b-ques, etc.

What’s that got to do with anything? We like people who like their families.  In fact, novelist James Rollins, (NY Times bestselling author of Amazonia, etc.) told me he’s researched the ten best ways to create likable characters. Guess what #1 was? “Being kind to kids and animals, in particular, dogs.”

Simply said, our heart goes out to people who are compassionate.
This wasn’t contrived on Guy’s part. It’s simply who he is.

Many speakers think they have to be “serious” when speaking in business situations. Guy modeled that speaking affectionately about who and what has influenced us “warms up” a talk and establishes that all-important likability. He showed that not can we embody intellect and emotion – it’s more powerful and persuasive when we do.

6. Guy used The Power of Three to create oratorical flow.

“There’s a kind of ear music . . . a rhythmic synchronicity which creates a kind of heartbeat on the page.” – Allan Gurganus

Orators have known for centuries that communicating things in threes sets up a rhythmic flow that makes our message reverberate.

Furthermore, listing three real-world examples fleshes out your points and increases the odds every person will relate to at least one of your samples.

For example, Guy showcased, Zappos and Nordstrom on a slide to illustrate benchmarks of mutual trust.

He then went deeper by citing empirical evidence that showed how each of these companies have created a culture of mutual trust. But giving varied, yet specific examples (instead of one vague, sweeping generalization), we GOT what he meant.

No puzzled looks – no one left hanging.

For example, Amazon has a policy that says you can return an E-book in 7 days if you don’t like it. As Guy said,
most people can read a book in 7 days so that’s trust.

Next Guy asked, “Who would have believed a few years ago that hundreds of thousands of women would buy shoes online . . . WITHOUT TRYING THEM ON?!” What makes that possible is Zappos  visionary policy of paying for shipping both ways. No risk; all reward.

Nordstrom, of course, is famous for pioneering a generous refund policy that has proven over time that most people will honor the “We trust you” policy which offsets the few who take advantage of it.

Want more examples of how Guy Kawasaki hit it out of the park at the Invent Your Future Conference with his Enchantment keynote?

Sam Horn, Guy Kawasaki and Ruth Stergiou at the Invent Your Future conference in Silicon Valley

Ruth Stergiou, Guy Kawasaki and Sam Horn

Check the next blog for the final 4 ways Guy practiced what he taught.

“Instant gratification takes too long.” – Carrie Fisher

Did you know . . . 1.8 billion vaccinations are given every year?

Did you know . . . half of those vaccinations are given with re-used needles?

Did you know . . . we are spreading and perpetuating the very diseases we’re trying to prevent?

Imagine if there was a painless, one-use needle that cost a fraction of the current model?

You don’t have to imagine it . . . we’ve created it.

In fact, if you look at this article . . .

So went the 60 second opening of one of my clients who used this pitch to convince venture capitalists to invest in her evolutionary product and business.

What’s the point?

Will you be requesting funding or proposing a new initiative in the near future?

How are you going to win buy-in?

What are you going to say in the first 60 seconds to motivate your decision-makers to look up from their Blackberry’s?

If you want people’s valuable time and mind, use the 3 techniques I’ve created and teach my clients to begin with to capture the favorable attention of their decision-makers in the first 60 seconds:

1. Open with three “Did you know?” questions related to the scope of the problem you’re solving. The goal is to elicit a startled “I didn’t know that” from your target audience. One of the ONLY ways to get busy people’s attention is to immediately tell them something they don’t know that piques their curiosity about something that concerns them.

2. Start your next paragraph with the word “Imagine” and use the oratorical “Power of Three” device to paint a mental picture of the ideal scenario. Identify three best-case characteristics of your solution so they’re impressed with the comprehensiveness of your plan, product or program.

3. Bridge to your precedence with the words “You don’t have to imagine it; we’ve created it. In fact, in this . . . .” Then, introduce irrefutable evidence – whether that’s an article, testimonial from a respected source or the actual product – so they SEE your offering as a done deal, not as a speculative venture.

The above techniques instantly engage your audience and cause them to care about what you care about.

Many of my consulting clients have used this compelling opening in their presentations/pitches and have reported back its power to win buy-in to their projects, products and programs.

Next time, you want to shake people out of their preoccupation and motivate them to give you their undivided attention – start your communication with:

1) three intriguing facts they don’t know about your idea, issue or initiative

2) the word “imagine” to paint a mental picture of three characteristics of your solution to this problem

3) the words “You don’t have to imagine it; we’ve created it” so they SEE and BELIEVE what you’re saying and want to hear the rest . . . of your story.

Thanks to all of you who emailed to say you enjoyed those top ten tips on delivering a winning pitch in my previous blog post.

Due to popular demand, I’ve now agreed to share my best-practice tips for developing a clear, concise, convincing pitch that captures the attention, respect and interest of decision-makers.

I hope these tips help you put together an intriguing pitch that gets people’s eyebrows up and motivates then to want to know more about your idea, project, product or venture.

1. Anticipate and Address Objections:

Investors can be “Doubting Thomases.” Ask yourself, “Why would they say no?” and then say that early on. If you don’t bring up their objections in the beginning, they won’t be listening; they’ll be waiting for you to stop talking so they can tell you why this won’t work. Neutralize resistance by naming it . . . first.

2. Title Each Slide with the Main Point:

Don’t distract investors by forcing them to figure out the most important take-away. They can’t give you their undivided attention if they’re confused by an unclear slide. Ask, “What do I want them to remember from this slide?” and feature it without clutter.

3. Show Them the Money:

Want investors to give you millions? Show exactly how and where you’ve managed and made millions before. Where exactly have you produced impressive monetary results commensurate with what you’re asking? Prove you’re not a risk with a tangible, bottom-line track record of successful launches, exits, sales, profits, savings, payoffs.

Don’t wait until the last slide to introduce this. Put it up front as the primary question in an investor’s mind is, “Have you generated big money before? Can you be trusted to do it again and make me money? How?”

4. Turn Some of Your Titles into Questions:

Posing and answering questions turns your pitch into a two-way dialogue instead of a one-way lecture. Voicing what the group is thinking serves as a verbal bridge where you articulate what’s on their mind and then address their question.

5. State the Problem(s) Your Business Solves:

Exactly how does your business solve a major, existing problem of your target audience in unique or more efficient, profitable ways? State the size and scope of the problem. How is your solution better than the competition? What are you introducing that is revolutionary, first-of-its-kind? Provide metrics of your scalability.

6. Videotape yourself giving the pitch and watch it with team members.

Clarify your goal. What do you want decision-makers to do at the end of your pitch? Ask yourself, “Will they take the desired action at the end of this pitch? What will they remember? Will they be sufficiently impressed to ask for a follow-up meeting?” If not, it’s back to the drawing board. (Or, as George Carlin used to say, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?”)

7. 10 to 12 slides TOPS.

People shut down when there’s too many slides and a speaker rushes to “get them all in.” When people can’t grasp info because they’re overwhelmed; they’re not going to say yes or want to know more. Discipline yourself to make 10 clean points. vs. 20 confusing ones.

8. Remember, slides are visual “aids.”

In a 10 minute pitch, fancy animation, sound clips, complex graphics or over-use of gaudy colors can be over-kill. YOU are the show – not your slides. Please, no lengthy documents in tiny print. Discipline yourself to make every word tell. Distill crucial info into 1 or 2 line bullet points with 10 words or less.

Make copy easy to “eyeball” with a minimum of 30 point font. Instead of bells and whistles; use a consistent theme with dark text on a light background to produce an easy-to-read, professional-looking presentation.

9. Number points on slides and distill each point into a 1 or 2 line sound-byte.

Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Have a max of 25 words per slide. Distill each point into its essence – you can always elaborate when you’re speaking. Numbering points instead of bulleting them can make them easier to follow and more factual.

10. Make Your Slides Right and Left Brain:

Include some human faces along with your graphics and grids. Balance statistics with a real-life success story to “people” your pitch so it’s not neck-up, wah-wah rhetoric. Remember, investors make decisions on emotion and logic. Do they like you and your venture and have you backed up your projections with empirical data?

11. Put Names and Numbers in Your Claims:

Instead of making vague generalizations (e.g., “team has extensive experience in bio-med” What’s that mean?), say, “For example . . . “ and then featue the names and logos of companies you’ve worked with; the millions of dollars you’ve generated; the hundreds of people you’ve managed. Metrics are trusted. Sweeping claims without specific, real-world evidence are suspect.

12. Ask for Action in Closing Slide:

Don’t trail off and expect the audience to read your mind and know what you want. What do you want them to do? Call to set up a follow-up meeting? Connect with you at your exhibit table? Request a free sample or demo? Be explicit.

Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, is the Official Pitch Coach for Springboard Enterprises – which has helped entrepreneurs receive more than $5 billion in venture capital. She has also been a pitch coach at USA Today’s Perfect Pitch competition and coached pitches at MIT’s Ignite Clean Energy Forum.

She is the author of POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything (Perigee-Penguin) which has been featured on MSNBC, NY Times and and endorsed by Seth Godin, Jeffrey Gitomer and John Jantsch.

She is renowned for her ability to help clients create compelling, convincing communications that win buy-in from target customers. Her impressive client list includes Cisco, Intel, KPMG and Capital One. She was a top-ranked speaker at the 2008 INC. 500/5000 conference along with Jim Collins, Tom Peters and Tim Ferriss.

If you’re looking for an inspiring keynoter for your convention, contact us to arrange for Sam to get your event off to a rousing start that provides immediate take-home value while engaging everyone in the room.

If you’re serious about getting funding, contact us at to find out how we can work together to make sure you design and deliver a pitch that convinces investors you’re worth their valuable time and money.

Or, call us at 805 528-4351 to tell us about our project and explore how you can consult with Sam to ensure its success. More pitch tips and video clips at

Many clients have asked me to post my Top Ten Tips for Delivering a Winning Pitch article online so they can share it with their colleagues and take it viral.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Top Ten Tips for Delivering a Winning Pitch – by Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert and inventor of The POP Process

You’ve invested months or years into developing your business.

Now, you have minutes to intrigue and impress potential investors.

The following tips can help you command the attention, respect and interest of decision-makers so they’re motivated to request a follow-up meeting.

1. Speak Loud and Clear So People in the Back Row Can Repeat Every Word:

Whether it’s fair or not, decision-makers determine your “clout” – your perceived ability to get things done on a grand scale – by the volume of your voice. People who speak softly aren’t perceived as powerful.

You don’t want to force people to have to say, “I can’t hear you.” That means they’re already frustrated with you. Project and e-nun-ci-ate so everyone in the room can repeat what you just said. Why is that important? If they can’t repeat it; they didn’t get it. And if they didn’t get it; you won’t get it.

2. Use Your Voice Like a Musical Instrument:

Use a warm, lower register voice to resonate with listeners. No iced drinks beforehand. They freeze your vocal chords & make you sound nasal. A high-pitched, “little girl” voice causes investors to doubt your ability to carry off a multi-million dollar venture. Ending with upward inflection makes you seem unsure – as if you’re asking for approval. Follow the example of broadcasters and end sentences with downward inflection so you’re exuding a voice of authority and will be considered an authority.

3. Speak to People’s Eyes to Engage Everyone in the Room.

The audience is not your enemy. Your goal is to connect with every single person in the room. Instead of having an unfocused gaze where you’re not really looking at anyone; mentally extend yourself to each individual by momentarily looking into their eyes so they feel you’re talking just to them.

You can do this even if there are hundreds of people in a ballroom by “quartering” the room and being sure to make eye contact with people in each corner of the room instead of sweeping the room with a robotic-like UZI approach or looking over everyone’s head with an empty gaze.

4. Pause and Punch:

Nervous speakers rush. Confident speakers deliberately pause before . . . and after . . . their most important points. Punching your most impressive points gives them an audio emphasis that helps them POP! out of everything that’s being said. Putting space around a particularly impressive credential or achievement (i.e., “sold to Microsoft,” “managed a 30 million dollar department,” “MBA from Harvard”) highlights it and gives listeners a chance to absorb and imprint it so they can remember it.

Jonathan Winters said, “I have a photographic memory; I just haven’t developed it yet.” People don’t have a photographic memory so it’s up to you to develop an easy-to-grasp pitch they like, want to listen to and can remember.

5. Eliminate Adversarial Words or Industry Jargon:

Review your slides and comments and remove the words “but,” “should,” “you’ll have to.” These words can make people feel ordered around, argued with or lectured to. Also, be sure to explain acronyms, industry jargon or technical terminology listeners may not be familiar with.

6. Tower, don’t Cower:

Your body posture says a lot about your confidence. Stand up right now and let your shoulders fall forward; put your feet close together and assume the “fig leaf” position. This “cower” stance makes you look and feel tentative and weak.

Now, pull your shoulders back, place your feet shoulder width apart and stand tall. This “tower” stance makes you feel and look more grounded and authoritative. People will conclude you know what you’re talking about and are a lot more likely to give you their respect because you look like a leader.

7. Command Attention and Respect From the Beginning:

Stride (don’t walk meekly . . . . stride confidently) to the center of the room and face the group so you are “open” to them. Pause for a moment and scan the entire room with a warm smile. Some self-conscious speakers start talking before they are “centered” and they never own the room. Some lock themselves behind the lectern to have a “barrier” between them and the group. Make a powerful, positive first impression by facing the group “head on” and by not starting until you have everyone’s attention.

If there are people behind you on a panel, stand to one side of the table so you don’t have your back to the panelists throughout the presentation. Keep your body facing the audience so you’re addressing and honoring the majority of the people in the room – and turn your head (not your whole body) to the panel occasionally to keep them enaged.

I’ll always remember a speaker who spent his entire 10 minutes talking directly to the panel (not even glancing at the rest of the room) because he thought the panelists were the judges. The judges were actually in the back of the room and they disconnected after 10 minutes of being ignored.

8. Move Strategically to Punctuate Your Points:

You don’t want to be rooted to one spot and you don’t want to pace. Repeated, non-purposeful motion is distracting. Determine in advance how you can move from “stage center” to “stage right” to get closer to that part of the audience and then to “stage left” to focus on that section of the audience.

Instead of gripping the lectern with both hands (which comes across as rigid or a desperate need to “hold onto something”) or clasping your hands together behind you or in front of you which lock you in to one stance – hold your hands like you’re holding a basketball so you can gesture freely and naturally.

9. Speak from Talking Points vs. Memorizing Your Speech:

Memorizing a speech or reading from a script disconnects you from the audience because you’re “in your head” repeating words you’re rehearsed. The audience might as well not even be there. The goal is to connect and communicate so compellingly, everyone is listening to and “getting” everything you say.

Instead of keeping notes in your hands, place them on the lectern so you can glance at them (or the tele-prompter or on-stage monitor) to remind yourself of key points without breaking your connection with the audience. Don’t talk to your slides – talk to your audience. Turn your back on the screen and keep your attention on the group so they’re keeping their attention on you.

10. Show and Tell with Props:

At the end of a long day, pitches start blending together and sounding alike. Visually reinforce your product by bringing a sample to the stage. Holding up an iPad or an iPhone while you talk about an app you’ve created helps us SEE what you’re SAYING. It makes your concept concrete and turns your idea into an image.

One client who created a software program that organized receipts/expenses brought her wallet to the stage and pulled out a dozen receipts from taxis, restaurants, hotels she’d collected in her trip to the NYC pitch forum. She then asked audience members if they had receipts scattered throughout their luggage they were probably going to lose, never report or never collect on. Everyone related to her message, remembered what she was offering, respected its market potential and wanted to talk with her afterwards. Compare that to a talk where she spoke solely about a “receipt aggregation system.”
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Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, helps clients create clearn, compelling communications that win buy-in from target customers. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything which has been endorsed by Jeffrey Gitomer and featured in NY Times, Washington Post, MSNBC and

Did you find these tipson delivering a winning pitch useful? You’re welcome to forward them to others and share the wealth as long as you attribute them.

Want Sam Horn’s article on Top Ten Tips to Designing a Winning Pitch ?

(And yes, her article covers what to put on your power point slides).

Email us at and we’ll send it to you. And visit for video clips on how to capture people’s favorable attention in the first 60 seconds by getting their eyebrows up.

“It’s not overly dramatic to say your destiny depends on the impression you make.” – Barbara Walters

What a treat it was to wake up and find that Ian Ayres had written a Freakonomics – NY Times blog called Pitch Me Your Day.

In it, he featured a video clip of National Public Radio’s Ira Glass talking about the art of story-telling – along with a link to a previous blog he’d done about me and POP!

In this fun blog, (Go Ian!), he makes the piont that “it never ceases to amaze me how few academics can succinctly describe a take-home point of their research. When we ask one another, ‘What are you working on?’ we’re really saying ‘Tell me a story.’ When someone tells me he’s studying network neutrality or the right to privacy, I yearn to say, ‘you’re ‘wasting my time.’”


We’ve got 30 seconds, max, to make a positive first impression in our presentation or pitch.

One of the best ways to do that is to use the two words “For example.”

As soon as we say those two words, people’s attention perks up because they think, “Now, it’s going to get interesting. Now you’re going to quit with the gobbledy gook and illustrate your idea with a real-life situation I can see in my mind’s eye – something I can relate to.”

For example, (see?) . . . in our BOOK IT event at USA Today headquarters on Friday, I shared the example of a writer who was not getting any interest in his book.

Why? His description was all over the map. At the end of his pitch, no one was interested because they didn’t “get” his work. And if people don’t “get” what we do, they won’t want what we do.

So what did Wally do?

Wally doused for whales. He would put a sonar device in the ocean off Hawaii until he heard a pod of humpback whales. Then, he claimed not only to be able to listen to their “conversations,” he claimed to be able to communicate back and forth with the whales.

Many of the agents and editors thought he was one taco short of a combination plate and were not about to give him a book deal.

I spent a few minutes working with Wally and suggested we use a POP! technique called the Valley Girl technique. I asked, Wally, “What song, movie, person or book are you like – with a twist?”

He thought about it for a moment and said, “Well, I’m kind of like Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer.”


Wally became The Whale Whisperer.

That short, easy-to-relate-to-and-remember brand name and pitch got people’s eyebrows up (a sure sign they’re intrigued).

So, what do you say when people ask, “What are you working on?”

What’s your pitch for your book, cause or project?