Slack is taking over

Update: At press time, Slack announced a new feature called Slack Calls, which is available on both the desktop app and within Chrome.

It was only a matter of time before Slack took over everything.

I’ve been predicting this one for a while, mostly in the context of business collaboration and an email replacement. Slack announced at a customer conference recently that they plan to add voice calls and video chat to the popular service.

Why is that a big deal? Let’s start with some data. About 2M people use Slack everyday in their jobs, sending private messages to each other, chatting in groups, posting photos that are saved in an archive in perpetuity. They ramped up quickly to a $1B valuation and 8,000 customers. There is a lot of buzz that Slack could go “mainstream” in the sense that it becomes more than just an email replacement for business and literally changes how people communicate at work.

And then there’s the possibility of widespread consumer adoption. Think about how you communicate with colleagues today and then how you communicate with friends and family. They are very different. Many of us use Facebook for chat, but that’s mostly for private exchanges. (The chats are not searchable or in a hub.) You might send an email or text, but few of us use Slack to talk to our spouse and kids.

The new Slack features could change that, because it moves Slack from simple text-based collaboration to real-time communication in any form–text, voice, or video. The old way–using Skype or Facebook–are not stored in a central hub where you can easily go back and see that your boss didn’t just chat with the team, he also called Mary in accounting and held a video conference. The “hub” is the big selling point because it exposes (to use a slightly negative word) the communication.

I’ve heard of many companies who have almost ditched email entirely because of Slack. Now, it might make sense to ditch Skype, your phone network, and several other apps. The hub is getting bigger and more useful.

What’s left? Slack hasn’t made a move into cloud storage, but I’m expecting that, too. It would be a bit backwards, since companies like Dropbox have added some collaboration tools to the core storage offering in recent months. How about presentations? Word processing? Whiteboards? All-hands meetings? The sky’s the limit, once you get hooked on the text chat and image sharing.

The good news for startups is that it means a lot less hassle in terms of managing a bunch of apps and a network infrastructure. Skype is a bit of a pain for some small businesses, especially since that tool started as a consumer video chat product and now dabbles in business conferencing. It’s another app to install and manage. There may be no reason to use it anymore, if Slack has their way.

Web Design Statistics for Businesses

web design statistics 2015

Statistics relevant to web design planning in 2015

This article features a collection of statistics relevant to the field of web design in 2015. We looked for statistics from surveys, studies and industry predictions from the past couple years that web believe are important for web design planning in 2015. This collection of statistics are meant to be helpful to companies and organizations planning a new website or making a case for the launch of an updated web presence in 2015.


Google is the leading search engine with 64.4 percent market share in January 2015. — comScore


search engine market statistics in 2015



47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.  — Econsultancy


Global number of mobile-only internet users from 2010 to 2015 (in millions). This statistic, from, shows an estimate of the global number of mobile-only internet users from 2010 to 2015.

Global number of mobile-only internet users from 2010 to 2015 (in millions)


The top competency for designers in 2015 by AIGA is:

#1: Top competency: Ability to create and develop visual response to communication problems, including understanding of hierarchy, typography, aesthetics, composition and construction of meaningful images

The second top competency by AIGA for designers in 2015 is:

#2: Ability to solve communication problems including identifying the problem, researching, analysis, solution generating, prototyping, user testing and outcome evaluation



40% of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. — Econsultancy


4 out of 5 consumers shop on smartphones — Comscore


40% of people will choose a different search result if the first is not mobile friendly. –Skillcrush


The following graph depicts mobile app traffic share in the US by smartphone operating system by StatCounter. This graph is relevant to web design statistics as a responsive web design and marketing consideration.

Mobile app usage

You have 10 seconds to leave an impression and tell them what they’ll get out of your website and company. After this time (and oftentimes before), they’ll leave. — NN Group


Chrome is the dominant web browser in 2015 with 62.5 % market share


Browser Statistics - web design statistics 2015

Internet Explorer Statistics in 2015

The Internet Explorer market share decreased from 88.0 % in 2003 to 8.0 % in 2015.

Internet Explorer Statistics

Mobile devices make up 5.01 % of the total web device market share.

The most popular screen sizes going into 2015.

  • The most popular screen size for desktops in 2014 was 1440×900.
  • The second most popular desktop screen size was 1600×900 in 2014.


Once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds. — Kinesis Inc.


Web statistics - 2015 - year over year growth


The number of global internet users passed 3 billion in early November 2014. — WeAreSocial


website stats 2015 - Morgan Stanley's analysts believe that, based on the current rate of change and adoption, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015.

mobile web statistics - website design


When it comes to the top 100 sites analyzed, only 11.8% of these sites use responsive web design. — Akamai


Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.  — Hubspot, January 2015



2015 Was the Year Venture Capitalists Discovered Marijuana

Legal marijuana is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, and last year a record number of startups made deals with venture capitalists eager to get in on the ground floor.

VCs invested a total of $215.2 million across 98 deals in 2015, up from 63 deals worth $97.1 million in 2014, according to a report from venture capital researcher CB Insights.

Pot remains illegal under federal law, but 23 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana sales, and Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State have legalized the drug for recreational use. The industry is on track to generate more than $6 billion in revenue this year and is expected to bring in over $21 billion a year by 2020, according to a report by big data firm New Frontier and cannabis investor network The ArcView Group.

The largest investment in 2015 was Privateer Holdings’s monster $75 million round in April, from investors including Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Privateer is a holding company that owns pot brand Marley Natural, the website Leafly, and Canadian medical marijuana producer Tilray.

Cannabis startup accelerator CanopyBoulder was the most active investor last year, with 19 deals worth a total of $10 million.

Yelp’s Tweet Rant!

When a former sales employee at Yelp published a post on Medium Monday stating Yelp had fired her because she asked for unpaid time off to care for her boyfriend who was recovering from a brain injury, the company fired back on Twitter. The response may have opened up Yelp to a lawsuit, lawyers say.

“Unfortunately, we had to part ways with Ms. Senigaglia due to repeated absences (10 of her 59 workdays with Yelp) despite many exceptions to accommodate her needs. We provided multiple, documented warnings and ongoing performance counseling specifically related to reliability and attendance issues. Sadly, this role was not a good fit. We wish her the best,” Yelp tweeted about Jaymee Senigaglia, a single mother who worked for the company in San Francisco, where headquarters are based.

Yelp employee rant

The “pretty explicit” tweet seems “atypical” for an employer dealing with a disgruntled former employee, says Jane Kow, founder of Bay Area law firm HR Law Consultants. Employers typically disclose personnel information “by way of subpoena, not by way of a tweet.”

And lawyers say it raises questions about whether Yelp violated Senigaglia’s right to privacy or gave her grounds to accuse the company of defamation.

Anthony Zaller, a startup and employment attorney with Los Angeles law firm Van Vleck Turner and Zaller LLP, says Senigaglia waived certain rights to privacy by posting publicly about her firing, but says “there’s some concern there that I have with the detail that Yelp responded.”

He cites case law pertaining to a situation in which a college student’s negative post on MySpace about her hometown of Coalinga, California was published in the local newspaper without her permission. “The court rejected (the plaintiff’s) theory that the newspaper’s publication violated her right to privacy because her post to MySpace was made virtually to everyone with an Internet connection,” Zaller wrote in a blog post two years ago, asserting the case could apply to situations of employees posting on social media.

But Zaller tells Inc. Senigaglia could argue that her complaint about getting fired did not merit a public airing of work history or specific reasons for her firing that she otherwise did not share. Yelp’s response “starts raising concerns. You’re getting into private workplace information and I think it would have been fine to do a more generic response.”

He adds that Yelp could potentially be providing Senigaglia with grounds to accuse the company of defamation. Senigaglia has already disputed Yelp’s statement that it provided her with “multiple, documented warnings.” “Hey Yelp, can you send over a record of these repeated warnings you speak of? I must have been absent for them,” she wrote in a follow-up post on Medium Tuesday.

Update: Senigaglia tells Inc. she also disputes Yelp’s claim on Twitter that she took a full 10 days off work. She says she took six half days off work plus, as she recalls, three additional full days off. “It was all approved by management, it was all worked out, there was no question of it whatsoever,” she says.

She says her follow-up Medium post counts in her mind as a request for her human resources records, which she has not received. She claims that Yelp did not want her to have to repeat training because she was a “top player.”

If any of the information in the tweet is inaccurate, “she could have a defamation claim,” says Zaller.

Attorney Robert Dolinko with San Francisco labor and employment law firm Nixon Peabody is doubtful Senigaglia would have a strong case if she alleged a violation of privacy, which is a right under the state of California’s constitution. If she hadn’t posted something publicly, the situation would be different, he says. But as it stands, “I suspect from a court’s viewpoint, that (tweet) would not be a privacy violation.”

“She’s opened up the issue to public discussion and Yelp therefore is within its right to respond presenting its side of the that very issue,” he says, adding that the tweet brings up issues of company culture. “It becomes a matter of corporate philosophy — does the employer want to get in a public dispute over this?”

Legal issues aside, the tweet could be viewed as a heavy-handed move for a company already under scrutiny after an earlier Medium post by a 25-year-old employee identifying herself as Talia Jane, who complained of low wages and poor treatment in her customer service role at Yelp food delivery subsidiary Eat24. Yelp fired Jane after she published the post, stating the dismissal was not in response to her post. The company at the time declined to share details about why it fired Jane.

Zaller says he would have advised Yelp to have responded by saying it had to part ways with Senigaglia and that the company would respect her right to privacy by not sharing specifics, “and kind of took the higher ground.”

“It just doesn’t look good for the company to go down to the employee’s level,” he says, adding that many who read the letter would agree with Yelp that that the fired employee was not a good fit with the company. “Reasonable people don’t post things on Medium or on Twitter when they have disputes with their employer.”

Yelp can easily argue that there was no privacy interest after Senigaglia posted details on Medium, says Zaller. “But on the other hand, is this good business practice? I would argue it’s not.”

The spelling of Anthony Zaller’s last name has been corrected in this post. The post has been updated to include a response from former Yelp employee Jaymee Senigaglia. Inc. has also reached out to Yelp and will update if the company comments.

10 Tools for Better Content Marketing in 2016

Content marketing can be a time-consuming tactic. Sixty percent of marketers are creating at least one piece of new content each day.

Luckily, as content marketing has become more popular, an array of helpful tools have entered the market to help save time and money.

Here are 10 top tools for better content marketing in 2016.

1. Evernote
Evernote is a note taking, organizing and archiving tool any marketer can use to get their content in order.

At first glance, Evernote’s web clipper tool makes it easy to organize your research materials for content development, but there’s so much more than that. You can:

Create a library of social media update ideas
Collect and organize stock images for your content
Create a social media calendar
Subscribe to newsletters for content inspiration
Create notes and to-do lists
Track your social media performance
And it seems with every update, Evernote is finding new ways to cater to the unique needs of content creators.

2. Buffer
Social media automation is a must for any marketer, and no platform compares to Buffer for usability.

Buffer works with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, so you can cover all your profiles with one tool. Buffer will also analyze your Twitter profile to determine when your followers are most often online and interacting, and schedule your tweets to post at the optimum times.

You can also make use of engagement analytics to see which tweets are getting the most engagement to further optimize your social media efforts.

3. RightlyWritten
Content has literally been a staple for all those involved in content marketing. However many marketers struggle to provide the volume and stellar quality of content at affordable prices which is very important to succeed.

RightlyWritten is simply the best copywriting service online to address this problem. They have a talent pool of hundreds of Native American writers on board with expertise in most of the verticals and can be hired to create content in the form of blog posts, articles, website content, press releases, white papers and more.

You may place orders on ad hoc basis using their intuitive ordering system or sign up for Monthly blog packages to put your website blog on complete Autopilot.

4. Feedly
Feedly is a organization tool for all your favorite blogs, online magazines and news sites, making it simple to follow all the latest news in your niche in one place. It’s a great tool to brainstorm content creation and follow the latest trends.

Feedly also integrates with several social media automation tools (including Buffer), so you can share valuable content to your followers with a click of a button.

Slideshows are becoming an increasingly popular content-type, especially for repurposing blog posts and other material.

With, you have a simple way to create your own professional slideshows. allows you to create video or photo slideshows on mobile or desktop, use real-time effects, and work with more than 80 templates and visual art. The platform also integrates with Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, YouTube, and others.

6. BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo fills a lot of roles in the content creation and distribution process. If you’re in the brainstorming phase, use BuzzSumo to easily search for similar content types that have received the most “buzz” (social shares, comments, etc).

The best way to use BuzzSumo though is to find potential influencers to help spread the word about your content. The tool allows you to easily find powerful social personalities who like to share content related to you and your niche.

7. Trendspottr
So much of social media success comes from taking advantage of the hottest trends, which is easier than ever with the help of Trendspottr.

Trendspottr allows you to follow emerging social media trends, including hot topics, trending hashtags, and important influencers. The tool also gives insight into audience sentiment surrounding the topics, so you can decide which conversations are the best to join.

8. Trello
A content marketing strategy has a lot of moving parts, which you can easily keep organized with Trello.

Trello helps you plan your content week by week, including helpful notes and comments from you and your team members. The platform keeps all your information in one place, making it simple to see what projects you’re working on and what tasks need to be done next.

9. Apester
2016 is all about creating dynamic content, and thanks to Apester, you don’t need advanced software to create your own.

Apester allows you to create polls, quizzes, surveys, personality tests and other types of interactive content.

Easily engage with your audience on a new level by making them a part of the content you create. You can even make video quizzes for the visually-inclined.

10. Outbrain

Every marketer struggles with content distribution to a certain extent, and Outbrain is posed as the best solution to the problem.

Outbrain can get more eyes on any type of content you create (blogs, videos, infographics, etc.) by displaying it as promoted content with other related options.

As far as affordable options for increasing traffic and amplifying your content goes, there’s no comparing to Outbrain.

Know any other must-have tools for content marketers? Comment below!

How NASA’s Artist-in-Residence is Changing the Way We Think About Space

Simply put, a marketer’s job is to translate a brand into exciting, informative, and empowering consumer engagements. In that regard, Dan Goods is the ultimate translator. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, he serves as the company’s Visual Strategist, translating high IQ scientific concepts into public art exhibitions. He and his work in and of itself, truly define out-of-the-box thinking. That is of course, if the planet were square and not round.

When I interviewed Dan on my podcast, Innovation Crush, he shared some examples of his work, things he’s learned, and how a true artist ends up affecting the way we think about science and the universe.

Here’s how this NASA artist says you can give your creativity a boost.

1. Be a Fish Out of Water.

When Dan was in art school, he had a professor who not only had him observe the swimming mechanics of otters, he took him to a pool and made him swim like one. Often times, creative minds simply observe and translate culture into marketing ideas, businesses, creative collaborations and the like. The key reason a great majority of them fail? They don’t go and immerse themselves in the culture. Observe and translate is very different than immerse and translate.

Working with influencers? Spend a full day with a few of them. Collaborating with a brand? Visit their facilities and bug their creative director. Redesigning a store? Go visit some of your favorites and ask the managers and shoppers questions. Further, the benefit of getting outside your norm to look, see, feel, and touch, will work wonders for your creativity and inspiration. Unfortunately, the usual reviewing data, reading a few articles, and brainstorming won’t always cut it.

2. Don’t Speak Geek.

NASA employs some of the smartest people on–and off–the planet. They understand mathematical theories and rules of physics and compositions of atoms and distances from stars far more than any of us average tax payers care to explore beyond our 3rd grade science fairs (“C+? YES!!!”). However, we are tax payers, and much of our money goes to the programs NASA creates. And we have questions about how that money is spent.

It’s a rare individual who can translate between the two worlds. In your worlds, you might be need to give a report on analytics to a creative team, plead for the latest wearable technology to your chief financial officer, or explain that Ferrari to your board of directors. Avoid jargon and the inclination to appear well informed to your audience. With a bit of empathy, you can speak in their terms, using things they understand, and gently guide them into your world of rainbows and unicorns.

3. Make the Mundane Spectacular.

Whether you’ve known someone a lifetime or a few short minutes, “How’s the weather,” is probably the driest, most unimaginative question you can ask someone. (Mom, I’ve lived in LA for 15 years, it’s pretty much the same all year). But for NASA and its team of scientists, the weather is filled with the glorious wonder of the planet, its position in the universe, and deep seeded answers to our future. In the San Jose Airport, there is a walkway with hundreds of small, white tiles dangling from the ceiling at slightly different heights. Every few seconds or so, each one changes opacity on its own interval. It’s amazingly beautiful. As you approach the end of the walkway, there is a computer that reveals you’ve just observed real-time weather patterns from 100’s of locations around the world. Dan just made the weather cool again.

In our day-to-day, there is a tonnage of drab action items, tasks, and things we need to communicate. Adding some flair and conceptual repositioning just might help us–and the people we communicate with–get over the yawn hump.

4. Help Your Colleagues.

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Dan and his team’s influence can be seen everywhere. From redesigning conference rooms to bringing play back in to brainstorms, crafting mission pitches, and a whole collection of really cool science-infused art sprinkled all around the campus. Walking around with him, you can’t help but notice how creativity has sparked new levels of ingenuity. All separate from his own special projects.

When you help others in your organization on work that is not your own, you increase your social currency. That social currency has value when it’s time for you to get your creative idea(s) pushed through, approved, and completed. As much as we can get bogged down in our daily to-dos, it’s always good to lend a helping hand, as you’ll never know when you’ll need one.

Everything You Need to Know About the Apple Encryption Debate in One Simple Analogy

There’s a lot at stake in the ongoing Apple encryption debate.

Apple is arguing that this is a “security versus security” issue. The privacy needs of everyday people is as important as the needs of the government and its ability to investigate cases.

The other side is arguing the rights of the victims require a special “backdoor” method to gain access to the data on a phone used by the San Bernardino shooter.

Here’s a simple way to understand that.

Imagine there’s a box that contains a detailed plan for another terrorist attack. The problem is that someone lost the key to the box. The only way into the box is to break it open, but there’s a risk that the contents would be destroyed.

Now, the FBI wants a way to open the box that does not exist yet, one that must be newly created, so they have asked the company that made the box to give them a special key that can open any box. Make sense so far?

At this point, there’s an important question to ask. If the box company can make a key that opens any box, is there any way to guarantee that the key is never misused? If the magic key fell into the wrong hands, another terrorist could use that same key to find out about how to break into a nuclear power plant or do other heinous act. A criminal could use it to find the location of your kids or steal your credit card information. It could be used for nefarious purposes. That’s obviously a problem.

Also important: If the box-maker decided to provide that magic key to the FBI, what does that mean for other box-makers? In my mind, it makes any other box much more valuable…and much more secure. We would all decide to use that box instead. It also means that a company outside of the U.S. could make the box, particularly as a way to differentiate themselves from the company that decided to make the magic key and compromise. In this case, Apple has decided not to make the magic key, and I support their decision. In terms of cyber-security, it’s the only way.

And yet, I have one big concern.

What if the box contained the plans for a much more extensive terrorist attack? Wouldn’t we do anything possible to open it? Wouldn’t it be an emergency? Would we just sit around and debate? Isn’t all of the back and forth just taking up more time if the box would prove valuable in stopping another attack?

My fear is that the issue has become too focused on the privacy of every user and not on the act of unlocking the phone to retrieve the information. The focus should be on a solution. I wonder why Apple thinks this “new code” would get out in the wild. It does make sense that it could set a precedence for creating a backdoor for other cases, and in many ways that is the real concern here. My concern is one of urgency. We need to find a way to open the box without making compromises.

It’s hard for me to come down on this issue with a definitive “Apple should never make the key” since this is an issue of national security. It’s also hard for me to say Apple should make any compromises at all. How about you? Have you landed on the perfect answer? Let me know in a public forum like my Twitter feed.

How Elio Became a Billion-Dollar Startup in Two Days

Well, that was fast.

Elio Motors, the upstart car company that went public using an update to fundraising rules from the Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, took exactly two trading days to achieve a value of more than a billion dollars.

The jump in the company’s market cap is particularly noteworthy given how many highly valued private companies have seen their private share prices knocked down in recent months, and that the IPO market generally has been quiet in 2016. Elio went public over the summer, raising $17 million from 6,600 unaccredited investors, using a crowdfunding platform called StartEngine. (An unaccredited investor has a net worth of less than $1 million, or an annual income less than $200,000.)

In June, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) altered a decades-old rule called Regulation A, which allowed private companies to solicit funding from wealthy investors up to $5 million. The update, called Regulation A+, allows private companies to raise money in two tiers, for amounts up to $20 million and $50 million, including from unaccredited investors.

Elio, which trades on the OTCQX Market, an exchange for smaller companies, has 25 million shares outstanding, according to its September SEC filing. Frequently companies move from the OTCQX to larger exchanges such as NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange. But during a public forum last Thursday, company founder and chief executive Paul Elio said he had no intention of moving anytime soon.

On its first day of trading, Elio’s shares increased 17 percent to $16.50, after pricing to open at $14. By end of day Monday, they had jumped to $60, giving the company a market cap of $1.5 billion, roughly triple its value when shares began trading.

Elio, based in Phoenix, manufactures an aerodynamic three-wheel car capable of getting 84 miles per gallon. The cars, which will sell for a base price of $6,800, will begin production in late 2016, according to a company spokesman.

Originally posted in

How to Avoid Making a Horrible Speech That Everyone Will Hate

The only thing worse than sitting through a boring or obnoxious speech is being the poor soul who just gave it.

Whether it’s wedding toasts or the too-early start of the 2016 election season, every time you turn around somebody is standing up to share a few remarks.

Some are brilliant and inspiring. Others, not so much.

I know a bit about how to give a great speech–and probably more importantly, how to avoid giving a really bad one. I’ve had a side business as a professional ghostwriter for years, and I also run a network that connects other freelance ghostwriters with paying clients. While I’ve written more articles and books than I could possibly count, it’s the speeches–everything from eulogies and father-of-the-bride speeches to professional presentations–that can be most daunting.

I think this is because speeches are a multifaceted form of communication, most often given in real time, and that means there are simply more ways to screw thing up. So, in the interest of improving your next audience’s experience, here are 10 key steps that you absolutely must take to avoid a crowd full of groaners and yawners–or worse.

1. Understand the occasion.

Too basic? Please. We all have a story about the wedding toast that was completely inappropriate, or the professional address that got way too personal, or the supposedly friendly speech that turned into a complete bummer. Understanding the occasion and getting the tone right are crucial. People mess this up all the time, and yet it’s so easy. Think about your audience. What are they expecting to hear?

2. Take the time to prepare.

Whether you have a month’s notice or just a minute, it is your responsibility to prepare. It can be simply three main points you’ve jotted on a napkin, but remember that there are only a very few, rare people who can give an off-the-cuff speech with no preparation. (I saw Bill Clinton do it once. It was impressive, but he’s the exception. It’s also a big part of why he was president.)

3. Structure is your friend.

Make me listen to a horrible speech, and I bet I’ll tell you afterward that it lacked structure. Think of it this way–if the audience doesn’t know where the speaker is going and how long he or she is going to take to get there, they’re less likely to be on the his or her side.. We’ve all sat through these kind of long, boring diatribes. At the very least, even if you get everything else on this list wrong, at least respect your audience enough to let them know how long the torture is going to last.

4. Sing, don’t just speak.

You don’t have to rhyme your words or look up what iambic pentameter means, but remember to write prose with a dash of poetry. Here are two simple tips to make it easy. First, boil the theme of your speech down to a simple phrase, and repeat it at well-spaced intervals (classic example: “I have a dream…“). Second, remember that the human brain is hardwired to respond better to three-item lists. I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet that’s why in his classic 2005 speech at Stanford University, Steve Jobs mapped out his speech and told his audience he planned to share three stories.

5. Get the logistics right.

Basic stuff: Don’t read your speech verbatim, but have your notes with you. Project your voice–and if that isn’t going to work, make sure you’ve got a working microphone or plan to speak from the center of the crowd. If you’re physically short, stand on top of something. And at the risk of being crass, look in the mirror. Make sure your hair isn’t standing on end and you don’t have any boogers hanging out of your nose. Don’t let practical things that have nothing to do with your speech ruin everything.

6. Make it shorter.

Fewer words, fewer minutes, fewer points. If you were to read this column as a speech, it would probably take you about six minutes. Any longer, and your audience would probably revolt. (I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve worked on speeches and thought, “You know, this really needs to be longer.”)

7. Use props, literally.

Don’t over-rely on them, but use them as tools to “prop” up your speech (hence, “literally”). Also, if you absolutely have to use PowerPoint–you probably don’t, but if you really do have to–the fewer words on each slide, the better. Oh, and plan for the worst. Assume the projector will break, or your computer will freak out. What’s your backup plan?

8. Strive for connections.

Even though you’re doing most of the talking, a good speech is ideally a multi-way communication between you and multiple audience members. That’s actually a pretty high standard, but aim for it, and when things are going wrong, fall back on it. Focus at least on finding one or two friendly faces in the crowd, and engage them–whether it’s through simple nonverbal communication, questions, or something else.

9. Own your emotions.

I can’t tell you whether you should start with a joke, mainly because I have no idea whether you’re funny. However, I can tell you that in almost every speech, you’re better off sharing some kind of human emotion. Even just briefly (but authentically!) sharing how proud or sad or flat-out nervous you are to be making the speech can help you connect. (When in doubt here however, the key word is “briefly.”)

10. Pretend you’re on an airplane. Know where the exits are.

Even when you’ve prepared perfectly, sometimes a speech just doesn’t go well. Sometimes you run out of time (maybe it’s not even your fault), and sometimes you just plain lose the audience. So, prepare for it, by building escape hatches into your remarks. Know how you can cut them on the fly without seeming like you just quit in the middle. I guarantee you that at least once in your speaking career, both you and your audience will be glad you did.




By Bill Murphy Jr.

Connecticut Website Designers

Executive editor,, and founder,

5 Steps to Pitch Like Elon Musk

A great pitch is a mixture of science and art — the business fundamentals of the idea you’re selling must be solid, of course, but to really move an audience you need to go beyond the numbers and offer a little magic. Investors, potential employees, or a sales prospect are all human, and as humans they all respond to a great story. If you want to really move people to action, your pitch needs to tell one.

How do you do this? According to a recent Medium post by startup messaging consultant Andy Raskin you could do a lot worse than emulate Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Despite his limitations as a speaker — Raskin calls Musk “self-conscious and fidgety” — he manages to leave his audiences literally cheering when he pitches his ideas. Raskin says it all comes down to these five steps.

1. Name your enemy

If you want to move your audience like Musk does, don’t kick off your pitch by talking about yourself, your product, or your market. Instead, lead with your nemesis. “Start by naming the thing that’s getting in the way of your customer’s happiness. Do that by painting an emotionally resonant picture of how the world currently sucks for your customer, who/what is to blame, and why,” advises Raskin.

2. Why now?

The world has no shortage of problems. Most of the time we just live with them. In order to overcome your listeners’ inherent skepticism you need to convince them that, for whatever reason, now really is the time to change.

When Musk was pitching Tesla’s Powerwall battery, for instance, he did this by discussing climate change. We could ignore emissions before, he argues, but now imminent changes to the climate are rapidly making this impossible. Why is now the right time for your product?

3. Paint a picture of the promised land

Before you get into the nitty gritty of your business, you need to give your audience a mental image of where all this is headed. “Showing the enemy’s defeat before explaining how you’ll make it happen can feel wrong for novice presenters–like blurting out the punchline before you’ve told a joke. But when an audience knows where you’re headed, they’re much more likely to buckle in for the ride,” instructs Raskin.

4. Explain away obstacles

Audiences, you’ll recall from step two, tend to be skeptical. Don’t ignore this reality; address it head on. “Now that you’ve shared your vision of the future, (a) lay out the obstacles to achieving it and (b) show how your company/product/service will overcome each one. (There had better be some big, nasty obstacles–otherwise who needs what you’re selling?),” Raskin writes.

5. Win them over with evidence

You’ve shown your audience how you’re improving the world, laid out a picture of a rosier future, and met their objections about this vision head on. All of which is bound to be very compelling, assuming, of course, they believe what you’re telling them. Now is the time to clinch your pitch by proving that you’re not just blowing hot air, according to Raskin.

In the case of Musk’s Powerwall pitch, he does this by “letting his audience in on a secret: Powerwall batteries have been supplying the energy for the auditorium in which he’s speaking,” Raskin explains. Your company’s product might not be so dramatic, but “demos like this can serve as evidence, though results from early (or beta) customers are more compelling,” he continues, adding that “least persuasive– but better than nothing–are testimonials from potential customers explaining why they would buy.”

Curious to see what all this looks like in action? Check out Raskin’s complete post for more details and a video of Musk’s Powerwall pitch for further inspiration.

By Jessica Stillman

Connecticut Website Designers

Editor-at-large, Women 2.0

A Connecticut Digital Design Agency

Web Site Design & Development, Web Application Development, Mobile Application Development