Advice For Finovate Presenters

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Having sat through (nearly) 64 7-minute vendor demos over the past two days (not to mention the demos I’ve sat through in previous Finovate conferences), I have now become a self-appointed expert on what Finovate presenters should do. I hope Jim Bruene and Eric Mattson agree, and will share this with future presenters.

While there are a number of things presenters should do, the first is, by far, the most important:

1. Go visual immediately. Most presenters start with a verbal introduction. Certainly, taking 2 of your 7 minutes on this introduction is a serious mistake. But you should realize that until you “go to the demo”, your image will be projected on 6 huge screens. These screens will show, in excruciating detail, your nervous movements, your awkward body language, your sartorial choices (I still remember — with a touch of disgust — the guys from a past Finovate who presented wearing sandals), and your (often) inappropriate hand gestures (guys: do not put your hand in your pants pockets). Attendees are better off — as are you — staring at your firm’s home page than staring at you.

2. Tell us why you’re here. Sam Passer (@sampasster) tweeted how he thinks presenters are there for one of two reasons: To sell something to attendees, or to raise money from VCs. I think he’s right, and I think you, as a presenter, should be clear about which of those two things you’re trying to accomplish. Personally, I find it confusing when presenters tell us their firm is a “direct to consumer” play. Great, tell us bankers how you plan on competing with us for consumer attention and dollars so we can prepare our defenses. One presenter this week started off by saying his firm was going “direct to consumers” then closed his presentation by saying “if banks want to partner with us, let me know.” Now I’m confused.

3. What’s your business model? If there’s one unanswered question that many Finovate attendees have it’s: How do you plan on making money. Who’s paying for your services? Consumers, banks, merchants, all of the above, none of the above?

4. Pick your spots. This has improved over the years, but some presenters still don’t get that in 7 minutes you cannot give a comprehensive overview or demo of their technology. Pick the most interesting, unique, innovative use case and show that. And only that. If you really want to, you can verbally mention a couple of the other things you do. One presenter at this year’s conference kept the good stuff for last and the glitches he experienced with the opening stuff really hurt. Had he gone straight to the punchline, I think he could have had a shot at best-in-show.

5. Don’t ask for the vote. Just my personal opinion here, and if the majority of attendees disagree with me on this, I’m happy to back off this recommendation. But personally, I’m really turned off when presenters ask attendees to vote for them for best-in-show. Is that all you’re here for? A stupid little award to brag about?

I’m hoping you’ll weigh in with some recommendations of your own, and help Jim and Eric improve on an already excellent conference.

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