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Exclusive interview with Jeroen Van Geel «The Art of Pitching»

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25.01.2020

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Jeroen Van Geeel – creative strategist, expert of presentations of business ideas, curious explorer, public speaker and author.

Successful implementation of a business idea requires certain skills, one of which is the ability to present your idea in such a way as to make people fall in love with it. What prevents people from convincing investors to finance their project?

There can be many reasons why people fail at convincing others. First of all an idea can be very bad. But let’s assume that someone has a brilliant idea and still fails in convincing others. This can be because of a combination of reasons.
On the one hand people have to pitch the idea in a solid and very simple way: what is the core idea? Leave all the rest out and focus on that core. Too often people add details or even unrelated stuff which only leads to confusion.
On the other hand people have to be aware that a pitch is not just about the core of an idea, but also about the trust others give you. The relationship you build up with others. They are not just giving money to the idea, but also to the people. So what would be the reasons they would love you? Trust you? Give you their money?

Jeroen, you are the author of the bestseller ‘Pitching Ideas: How to Make People Fall in Love with your Ideas’. What is the formula for a successful presentation and why do most of them turn out to be failures?

There is no single formula. I think I describe the main points in the answer to the previous question. One: find the core of the idea. Two: build a relationship and trust.

In one of your speeches you showed a movie scene, in which an employee delivers a powerful presentation that made their clients cry. What was the most unusual presentation you have ever attended?

Every presentation is different. But if I would have to name one meeting it would be the presentation of the results of a very complex brand strategy project. After doing the research and sessions I presented the results to the core management team. During the presentation they fell completely quiet, their mouths opened. I didn’t know what to expect when I finished, until after a minute one of them started talking and how we had truly touched him with this brand story. That this was what he had been looking for and could never grasp. Even when he walked out he kept thanking us and to this day he is a loyal client.

Many of us have ideas for a new business, but the fear of change forces us to not take the risk. If our readers ever encounter a person in the elevator who could bring their ideas to fruition, what should they say in Elevator Pitch in order to attract attention in 30 seconds?

The main thing is to touch somebody. To leave a thought or an insights that opens his or her eyes. I usually start by asking a question like “Have you ever been in situation x and didn’t know how to solve it?” or by making a statement we all recognise. By doing this you connect with someone and know he or she understands the starting point. From there on you bring the solution: “What if we’d have a product which…”

It is difficult to explain it so abstract, but to make it concrete I will pitch you Revivre:
Touching
Scent is one of the strongest triggers around. We all have these moments when we smell something specific and are thrown back into our childhood, standing next to our grandfather or grandmother. Right? Memories are our biggest treasures. We all collect our most important photos and videos in an important place.

Solution
So what if we would combine these two aspects and create a unique fragrance which you can connect to future moments, like a first date or a wedding day. Meet Revivre.

If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough” – quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to which you refer, inspires many people to continue their work, giving hope that we are moving in the right direction. Could you share with us what projects you are currently working on and what ideas you plan on implementing in the near future?

I can share three completely different projects: We are creating a reading experience for parents and their kids. We are doing this by building an intimate atmosphere where they can get together and dive into an adventure. We use technology to make the reading experience extra magical, but in such a way that the parents and kids also want to keep doing this at home. We are designing a service for local governments to support people in making their houses more sustainable. Here we do the research, translate the insights into a complete service plan. This is a five year strategy which is now being implemented based upon a roadmap. The last project I can share is the public transport app for the Netherlands. Here we started with a five year strategy after which we started building the MVP. Right now we are close to releasing the new app. As soon as it is launched the team will continue working on new features based on user insights and the strategic roadmap.

As a creative strategist, you set yourself the task of bringing a bit of wonder into the world.

On April 23rd you will take part in the Future-Tech Forum. Open your secret: how are you going to surprise Ukraine?

That would be the worst secret ever… 🙂

Thank you for interview and see you soon at the Forum!

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