Communication is a critical skill for founders.
The best founders are often legendary communicators. If you don’t already think communication matters, read more here. As a founder, you must be a strong communicator.
Luckily, communication is a skill you can learn.
Bad communication is only natural.
Most people naturally communicate badly. They communicate from their own perspective, giving too much detail up front, and this natural communication style limits their potential.
At Entrepreneur First, once founders have met their cofounder and started working on an idea, Entrepreneur First has to decide whether or not to invest in the company. To help founders practice for raising investment outside Entrepreneur First, which they’ll have to do at some point, the founders pitch their company to some of the investors on the EF team.
Even teams we think are high potential, because we’ve met them many times, will struggle. By default, almost every team fails to convince the investors in this meeting. Usually, this is because they can’t communicate well. Here’s some of the feedback we might get:
Investor 1: “Extremely confusing pitch. Very unclear why there is a real value proposition here. I think refining and re-structuring the articulation of the problem would be extremely helpful”
Investor 2: “X’s communication style is too languid. comes across as unsure and not knowing their stuff. Needs to be snappier and get to the key points faster“
Investor 3: “I felt like I was having to order their thoughts for them”
How does this happen? When pitching, most founders naturally answer questions like this:
“Here’s a ton of detail about something that happened and it made us think this thing that was actually wrong, but it turned out to be right and so we then changed our minds, but actually the interesting thing is what happened next…”
“So once we had been through that process we felt slightly more confident about a couple of things”
And finish with:
“Which means that X is true”
As a listener, and a reader, this is tough. You spend most of the conversation trying to understand why what you’re being told is relevant. And, by the time you understand the punchline, often you’ll find you already agreed and didn’t need the preamble.