This is the fifth article in the series of six, for the teacher, who works with pitching in the classroom.
What is a Mini Demo Day?
Granted, the name seems a little fluffy, but it’s widely used in the business world. The term covers, as you might have understood looking at the three words, a day, where somebody gets to demonstrate something, for someone. In other words, it’s a day, where you get to pitch your idea in front of a new crowd.
To sign up your students for an event like this or to make an event yourself is a very fruitful experience, helping the students to evolve their pitching qualities.
The practical set-up
In practice, making such a day can have different challenges, but it doesn’t need to be too hard to do, and the payoff for the students are enormous.
It’s about booking a place to be, that is big enough for both students and the spectators. It’s about checking that the equipment works. Lights and sound, the projector and such.
Then you have to invite an audience. It could be different business people or certain mentors (students from the years above or students from the university), that can help by asking the right questions and giving positive feedback.
After each group has performed their pitch, they spread out to their stands, where people from the audience can come by and continue the good dialogue.
How you prepare your students
A new audience, a new opportunity and thus a different kind of nervousness. The students have been in a more comfortable environment in the classroom, practicing their pitches in a secured place in front of their co-students and their teacher, who might not be the intentional audience for their pitch. But now they have to pitch in front of strangers and potentially very important people, who can help their ideas into the real world. The form of anxiety that follows from this, is something you as a teacher can help them overcome.
Explained by a metaphor, and strictly practical, you need to practice a lot to play the best possible game. The training is about meeting better and better resistance. That’s why you need to gradually upgrade the audience, that they pitch to.
In the classroom you might have already worked with the other students taking on different kinds of roles, imitating the intentional audience, but it’s now quite enough.
A natural step before participating in the Mini Demo Day is to try out pitching in front of different kinds of crowds. First off, it could be just one of the classes from the same year and then expanding doing it front of all the classes of that year, maybe even a few years around them. You could also invite their parents or try to connect with another school, that are interested in the same kind of experience.
And then, when the thrilling Mini Demo Day is coming along, it’s important to focus on the positive stuff they get out of it. How, on the day, it really isn’t that big of a deal, if a judge finds their pitch either good or bad, but tell them that the experience they get by just standing there is very valuable in itself. That they will enjoy how, finally, they get to talk to the right kind of people, who has been their target audience all the way, and how useful it is meeting those people, getting feedback from them that can improve their situation, helping their project come to live in the real world.