Everything You Need to Know about Presenting You can Learn from Shark Tank!

150 150 Ellen Ensher
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Everything You Need to Know about Presenting You Can Learn from Watching
Reality TV’s Shark Tank!

Spring is in the air which means students around the country especially in Colleges of
Business are getting ready for that annual rites of passage- team presentations! This is a great chance for students to really show what they have learned and practice being on stage. It is also a great way for students to develop some empathy for the job of a professor as they need to research, design, and deliver something captivating that engages and educates.

Sooo- how should a student prepare? First, begin by finding the comfiest chair possible and then sit down and watch some TV! No, seriously Shark Tank is my new Professor Couch Potato guilty pleasure. I finally understand why people scream at the TV during sporting events- I find myself doing the same thing when watching this show!

The basic idea behind the show is that budding entrepreneurs can come in and pitch their products/ideas to five venture capitalists type/money people who are known as the sharks because they eat you alive. These folks challenge, berate, ridicule and sometimes even encourage and fund burgeoning businesses presented to them by their eager founders. It is good fun to watch!

Here are some success strategies for presenting that I learned;
1) Be prepared for the obvious questions! Also, be prepared for the non-obvious questions and the contrarian viewpoint! For example, a couple came in to present “fat tape.” Yup, this is just what it sounds like- it is clear tape to bind up your fat on your arms, legs, butt, etc. and is targeted toward the female market. Kind of like duct tape only clear. The couple had already some success with this yet became defensive when confronted with the obvious question… “What happens when you un-tape your woman and all the fat comes out?!” The uber competitive sharks had a field day with this one and the entrepreneurs became defensive and lost this valuable opportunity.

2) Surprise your audience… pleasantly. On one episode, an entrepreneur came in to pitch educational music software… a bit of a snore until he invited in his surprise presenter, award winning Ingrid Michaelson – he had the sharks eating out of his hands and they were fighting to give him money!

3) Research your audience – One entrepreneur came in to pitch a wine product but three of the sharks were not even wine drinkers so they immediately lost interest.

4) Bring some notes in case you completely lose your mind! One presenter came in and sweated, stammered and went absolutely blank when asked to provide numbers. When you get in trouble, take a deep break, look at your notes and get back on track.

5) Know the outcome you want before you walk in! Two ladies came in with some very cool outerwear gear but they had no clear objective and quickly crumpled in the face of the sharks severe questioning- they ended up giving up a huge chunk of their company and it was sad to see them fold. You must know what the objectives are of your presentation and stick to them.

Of course, there is more to being a good presenter than watching Shark Tank however these tips can get you started. Good luck on your next presentation!