Pitch Day – The Haka
For those not familiar with the rugby let me introduce to you the Haka. This is an ancient Māori war dance used to challenge and intimidate their foe. It was reported that New Zealand soldiers chanted a Haka war verse during the Boer War. In rugby, the most feared and number one team in the world, the New Zealand All Blacks have a history of performing The Haka before matches dating back to 1888.
The Haka is really a sight to see and hear, and is usually met with respect from opponent teams. But in recent England vs New Zealand matches on home turf, the Haka is often drowned out by England fans singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”.
My game is next week. Investors from around the world convene in Hong Kong for the startup conference RISE 2016.
We are prepared. We have had the locker room pep talk. The pitch has, over the months, been refined again and again. All that is left for me to do is perform the Haka.
Whether it is pitching your startup to investors, an interview for a dream job, or a sales pitch to a massive client, mental preparation is crucial. All the preparation in the world and a good night’s sleep will be for naught if you enter that room with even the slightest fear of failure. Your opponents will be on the look out for any signs of weakness. They will crush you as they have hundreds of people before.
My Haka will start as soon as we are done with the formalities. I will not be chanting “Ka tū te ihiihi” (We shall stand fearless). No, my Haka is a single sentence that has been refined over and over to have maximum impact. It is the one sentence that will capture the opponent’s attention from the start. If you lose them in the first minute, it’ll be hard to recover. I have spent days, even months formulating my Haka. We had practice runs with virtual accelerators. It usually started with a brief intro of the team, then a product intro. This does not work.
Start with the problem you solve! Start with the gap you fill! Do not start with boring intros, how you met your co-founder, the lightbulb moment. By the time you have done that, you may have lost them. Draw them in with your first sentence. My first sentence is a question. Something like “If you had this product which solves this problem, would you use it?”
Make sure the answer is a forgone conclusion.
If it is not, change your Haka.
Now to put words into practice! Wish us luck!
Dean Owen in Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.
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