“Shark Tank” should be watched by anyone that needs to present to senior executives. It is a show where small business owners and inventors pitch their products to a panel of potential investors. It is relevant for a couple of reasons. It is high stakes. It is brief. Sometimes the presenters are really good. Sometimes they make mistakes. .
In a recent episode, Jonathan Boos, the owner of Wurkin Stiffs a provider of magnetic collar stays wants an investment to expand production.
Jonathan made several excellent moves.
A clear ask. He started his presentation with a statement of what he wanted. He was looking for an investor to provide $85K for a specific percentage of his collar stay company. Nice work. Executives want to know what they are being asked to do.
Tangible evidence. Jonathan brought a sample not just of magnetic collar stays, but of other products he had invented. This gave the panel a way to closely examine the product he was presenting and evidence of the type of work he consistently performs. Very impactful.
Knowing the numbers. Off the top of his head, Jonathan was able to rattle off his projected profit for this year and next. He was able to enumerate the number of major retailors currently selling his products and how many would start selling the products in the near future. Accurate numbers boost the confidence of an executive – especially if the numbers bear directly on the argument being made.
A couple of things felt off the mark.
Wrong answer. One investor made an offer early on in the pitch. It was a less than ideal offer. The first thing out of Jonathan’s mouth should have been “thank you”, then a polite decline. Instead, he argued. Ouch.
Wrong audience. While Jonathan knew his audience (it varied from a real estate mogul to owner of a basketball franchise), he was actually looking for an investor who had experience in men’s clothing. He was well into his presentation before he mentioned he was hoping to work with one specific investor. If the target of your presentation is a subset of the audience, this is suboptimal. But one thing that can be done is include everyone by changing the talk slightly. “I want guidance and feedback from everyone, but I am looking for an investment from someone with experience in men’s clothing.”
Wrong vibe. Jonathan appeared nervous. Nervous behavior diminished his credibility, even though he was clearly presenting a great product and business model. Executives can smell fear. Rehearsal is a fantastic anecdote for stressful presentations. Even if you are feeling the pressure, your training kicks in and you perform well.
“Shark Tank” is a weekly opportunity for you to view and learn from others’ high pressure executive situations. And while you may never have magnetic collar stays to pitch, you can learn things to do – and things you might want to avoid.
So come on. You’ve seen something similar. Let’s hear your pitch.