Question: What lessons from this summer's U.S. political conventions can you use in your next pitch/speech?
Showcase Well-Known Supporters
"Both conventions had a steady stream of high-profile individuals extolling their praise and support for the candidates. The candidates themselves didn't have to name drop because the proof was in the appearances themselves. In any pitch or sales scenario, being able to leverage an established name and tie your brand to theirs can only be helpful."
There Are Two Sides to Every Issue
"The key to working together to create something for everyone is to listen carefully to each side. By only listening to one side, you're building walls that exclude some from the conversation. To reach true consensus in anything, each side must be heard and must have a voice in the end."
"The political conventions continued to use unnecessary negativity in their delivery. I'd stay well and clear from saying anything disparaging about the competition in a speech. It shows you're threatened by them. Instead, the power of positivity helps your audience see why they should go with you and gives them the idea that you are there to help."
Know When to Filter Yourself
"It continually surprises me how spokespeople don't have an advisor checking every tweet before release. The damage candidates inflict upon their reputation could easily be avoided with the introduction of two powerful tools: Systems for the release of content, and empowering folks smarter than themselves to work for them. Great leaders know to do this."
Social Proof Builds Trust
"Endorsements go a long way in politics, and the equivalent in startup-land is social proof. When we were raising money, being able to call out that we had existing top-tier investors was able to grant us instant validation. The same is true when selling to major customers; that is you get noticed when you tell them their competitor is already using your product."
Simplify Your Message
"People want to know who you are and what you stand for. There’s no sense in beating around the bush. If they don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate, they can’t get behind you. This is why people are connecting with authenticity more than ever. You can be wrong in your facts, but right in your genuineness. Used correctly, this can be an advantage."
Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt Works Best
"In politics, some people think the politicians should be positive. Research tells us that voters make decisions to avoid pain. In the conventions, you will see both parties dogging the opposite side. Political commercials always go negative, using fear to turn people against the opponent. Lesson: Use FUD to convince customers of opportunity costs of not doing, not the benefits of doing it."
Stick to Your Authentic Voice
"Some speakers at the conventions were dynamic, polished and impossible to keep your eyes off, while others were tamed and very much rough around the edges. Those who made the most impact on me were those who were authentic. You can't fake who you are, so the lesson I take is to remember that my most important communication tool when I speak is making sure I remain authentic and true to myself."
Never Highlight Negativity
"If there's one thing we've learned from this year's political process, it's never to highlight negativity. You always want to rise above. When you're working through your next big pitch or speech, remember this and keep the discussion positive. Don't berate your competitors. Instead, discuss how you're going to improve on their great ideas; positivity engenders the best reaction in your audience."
Connect Emotionally With Potential Customers
"Both candidates, in their different ways, know that an emotional connection is the key to persuasion. Pitching is about demonstrating your value to an investor. But if you can make them feel something and empathize with what you’re trying to achieve, there’s a greater chance they’ll take a risk on you, rather than a business they don’t care about."