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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

Sell Sell Sell: Selling Your Idea Thrice, And More at Product Camp Dublin

Updated: Aug 2

Perfecting the Pitch: Preparation, Performance, and Post-Action

How to prepare for a presentation? How to make the best of a speaking opportunity?

I led a session at Product Camp Dublin on 15th June 2023. I learned new things during the preparation, performance, and post-action phase. I share my experience attending Product Camp and my learnings from it.

I will write a follow-up post about tips to speak at conferences or be a great attendee. My earlier post on supplementary resources from the talk is here.

3 Stages To My Speaking Engagement

The 3 stages to a speaking engagement are:

  1. Preparation

  2. Performance

  3. Post-Action

3-step flow chart from preparation and performance to post-action.
3-step flow chart from preparation and performance to post-action.

My Preparation For the Presentation

I include the items leading toward the performance in the preparation phase. An implicit part of the preparation process is evaluating your career or life experiences. The outcome of the first step is having a few ideas you want to share. Thanks to Michelle Ovalle for the illustration.

Divergent and Convergent steps in the ideation process.
Divergent and Convergent steps in the ideation process.

For example, I considered a few topics to present at Product Camp. This was my divergent phase.

  1. 4 case studies: measuring customer experience in new ways and improving CX. Read more here.

  2. Escape the funnel: master customer journey mapping using 3 product management examples. Read more here.

  3. How to cram 4 years of experience into one? 6 Tactics to accelerate your on-the-job product management learning curve. Read more here.

  4. From interviews to intelligence: Accelerate customer research using ChatGPT

  5. Cracking the code: quantifying the Kano model for data-driven competitive analysis

I was confused so I asked my spouse for feedback. I asked John Raczkiewicz, a Product camp organizer and friend, for feedback. I converged on the second idea. You can find it here.

After choosing the topic, I wrote an article on that topic. Writing things down helped me crystallize my thoughts and get feedback from readers. You can find the article here.

I created a draft slide deck storyboard. Then, I hired a presentation design agency on Upwork to flesh out the design. The design agency freed me up to think about the story instead of each pixel. I also reused parts of earlier presentations. Reusing earlier presentations increased their value in my eyes. Seeing the value of earlier presentations energized me to put more effort into this one, as I could see myself reusing this later.

draft storyboard vs refined presentation.
draft storyboard vs refined presentation.

I kept refining the presentation, adding artwork to it, and rehearsing. I created artwork for my slides using the Midjourney generative AI tool. Using the principles from How We Learn, I rehearsed the first time with draft slides. Rehearsed way before the slides were perfected. I did not refine the slides before starting to rehearse.

I recorded myself on my phone camera and painfully watched myself speak and stutter through the slides. I got my spouse to act as an engaged audience one time. Another time, she was a passive audience. I timed myself. I added transitions and animations.

Based on Francesco Bianchi & Ana Mandić’s talk and tips on teaching effectively, I decided to add interactively to my presentation. They taught techniques from Sharon Bowman, which included changing the flow of the presentation to increase learning and retention. I needed some props for the interactivity. I needed props to sell my idea as a cool involved workshop rather than a boring slide deck. I bought pens and paper.

 steps within the preparation phase for a presentation include writing, slide creation, and rehearsal.
steps within the preparation phase for a presentation include writing, slide creation, and rehearsal.

Sell Sell Sell: Selling My Idea Thrice For The Presentation

My first step in performance happened before the Product Camp conference. My first step was to prepare a brief and share it with the organizers. The organizers put it on the website. This was the first time I had to sell my idea through a written summary. I wanted to convince the organizers that my idea is worth adding to the agenda. I wanted to convince readers to attend my talk by reading the brief. ChatGPT, Hemingway, CopyThat, and Grammarly - these tools helped me write the article and craft the pitch.

I wrote:

Ditch jobs-to-be-done. Ditch the funnel. Instead, here’s how to map customer journeys for any product. You want to know how to make prospective customers buy your product. Or upgrade to a paid plan. Or retain them. But do the numbers in your marketing funnel tell you what will make customers upgrade? Do your JTBD statements tell you how many customers will upgrade if you change one feature? No, and no. Customer journey maps helped me get actionable insights for both of these questions. Let's take inspiration from Airbnb and Disney... I'll share a new visualization method that merges JTBD, a storyboard, and a funnel. My talk will explore 5 scenarios for when to construct such customer journey maps. We'll discuss the 3-step process of sketching a customer journey map. Join me for a humble exploration. Let's bring a new tool to your Product Management toolkit. Let's apply this to decode your latest customer challenge.

Product Camp calls itself an un-conference. They do not solicit professional speakers nor do not pay speaking fees. Instead, it is a community-led conference. Prospective speakers pitch their sessions in front of the audience. The audience votes for the ones they like. Only the topics with the highest votes get to present on the day.

The second time I sold my idea was on the stage in front of 300 people in 30 seconds. While commuting to the conference, I wrote a draft of the pitch:

I am here to tell you why you should ditch the funnel and ditch jobs to be done. You are here to know how to make your products better or how to build products in a better way. I will share a new method called customer journey mapping which will solve your problems of knowing why, how, how many, and what your customers are doing. I will use three product management examples from my time as a product consultant and staff product manager. I also have these pens and papers for an activity in our discussion. But I have only 40 pens, so this might get selective.

I decided to wave around my pens and paper to the audience at the last bit. Those were my props. But, I forgot those. I was fortunate enough to receive one of the highest number of votes and the most number of attendees for my presentation. Organizers considered my stock of 40 pens good enough. But, I was fortunate to have 90 attendees, including people sitting on the stairs and people standing at the door. The response was humbling.

Lastly, I presented. You can see my presentation, a video recording, and supplementary resources here. This was the third time I had to sell my idea to my audience. I call this selling my idea thrice.

I wrote down notes after the presentation for areas of improvement. I’ll share those below.

Prompt For Perspectives. Post-Action.

Post-action includes feedback and reconnection. But feedback has many ways.
Post-action includes feedback and reconnection. But feedback has many ways.

Since this article got long, I wrote more about this and a few more sections in the next article. In the next article, I cover:

  • Prompt for perspectives. post-action.

  • Follow-up, feedback, and fine-tuning

  • The feedback I received

  • Self-critique - the feedback I gave myself

  • Questions from attendees and answers to them.

Harshal patil presenting, creating interactive moments, and capturing feedback.
Pic from recent event. Presenting, creating interactive moments, and capturing feedback.

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