Last week, Oberlin hosted the finals of the LaunchU Pitch Competition, where several hopeful startups pitch their ideas to a panel for funding. Although I could not stay for the final two presentations, I was surprised at the variety between the pitches. Although the pitches were structured similarly, the size of the groups and demeanor of the presentations had an impact on the success of the pitch.
The CommunityHub pitch team consisted of three members, one of whom was faculty. The faculty member took charge of the presentation, but handed it off to the other team members when appropriate. The switches were fairly convincing, but some team members were better speakers than others. Ride, an all-electric carshare concept, was presented by one speaker, who remained calm and easygoing throughout. To me, this style of presentation was much more convincing than the style of the StoryIt LLC presenter. While he was certainly dedicated to his project, his speaking came across as forced and aggressive. The winner of the competition, the 1Step2Life project, was presented by only one person as well, but her personal connection to the project added another level of engagement. When she explained that her own son struggles with chronic pain and has benefitted from her idea, her presentation felt extremely genuine.
Overall, I found the style and approach to the presentation significantly correlated with my interest in the pitch as a whole. It was much easier for me to consider supporting an idea that I may otherwise not have been interested in if the presenter’s personality was too my liking.