[Coach interview] This week, we interviewed Eamonn, an English coach who lives and works in London and for whom life has been a great adventure! After several business experiences, Eamonn is now part of the language coaches helping startupers on SpeakPlus. He tells us how he helped an entrepreneur pitching his startup and gives us advice on how to make a memorable presentation in front of investors!
Hi Eamonn, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Eamonn and I’m getting closer to my 50th birthday, ugh! I am originally from the north of England but I’ve lived in London for well over twenty years now. Teaching English has been a ‘constant’ in my life since coming to London to attend Drama School, being an actor and in between other work in the digital sector and starting my own businesses. I have been lucky enough to have taught in the UK, France and in China, where I helped to open a new school. If I have any free time these days, I love to practice calligraphy, go cycling and go to the park and practice Tai Chi Chuan.
What languages do you speak?
French is still my favourite language; it has been since I was a high school student. It was the love of that language which has taken me to France on many occasions. One day I’ll live there, where I feel at home but before I do, I should take some lessons with Morgane at SpeakPlus who will be able to remind me of all the French I have forgotten!
I didn’t learn much Chinese while I was living and working in Dalian, Liaoning Province as everyone was so keen to speak English to me! I’ve heard that there are more English language learners in China than there are English speakers in the rest of the world. Can that be true? I can’t quite understand the numbers involved.
You recently helped an entrepreneur to pitch his startup, can you tell us more about it?
I was approached by a super-cool guy who was going to pitch his new business to a conference in an effort to win investment for his brilliant software. The only slight problem that he wanted to deliver the pitch in English and he only had about four days to prepare it! It was a great challenge and I understood how important this event was for him and his business. We didn’t have any time to waste so I wanted to understand exactly what his software did, what was different about it and what would be the perfect result from a perfect pitch. We worked through his slide deck (in Powerpoint) and I helped him to translate some of the text into shorter, more dynamic text. Our main work was simply working on the notes, or script that he would read aloud to the investors at the conference. Pronunciation was key because if the audience misunderstood one or two words they would not be able to ‘keep up’ with all the details he needed to communicate, quickly and concisely. We worked hard and although he was exhausted on the day, he did very well and delivered a successful pitch, being very highly placed in the competition.
Tell us more about your experience with startup companies!
I have been a co-founder of two start-up companies and so I know how crucial these presentations are – if they mean winning investment, orders or new clients – they may be the most important few moments in the life of any business, especially new companies. I really wanted him to succeed because I have also pitched business ideas, concepts and products in beta to investors, business people and customers. I honestly feel that training and working as an actor, in my long-distant past, really helped me. I understand that you only have one chance to make a great ‘first impression’ and that each second can be used to communicate an idea to the best possible effect.
Can you give us tips or good advice to pitch a startup?
In the example above, where my student had to pitch in English, I encouraged him to tell a story, to share the story of his product and company, to explain clearly why his product was different and better than his competition but to do so in a light-hearted way, with an easy smile and in a relaxed manner. To excite the investors but also to make them know that here was a company they could trust, that they could believe in and they could invest in, of course! That all sounds quite easy but in order to appear relaxed and confident in front of a room of investors, you will have to practice speaking your script aloud over and over and over again – learning your lines like an actor. Learning them inside out and back to front until your confidence and the meaning of the pitch shines out and lights up the room!
If you need help to pitch your startup company in another language (English as a foreign language, Spanish or French), visit our website SpeakPlus Business (in French only) or to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! See you very soon!