Convince
in 3 minutes

Showing off their innovation in ‘3 minutes’ in front of 200 people was the challenge our guests had to face. They all participated in the Innovation Fibre Prize, organised by OpticsValley, which rewards innovative projects. Prior to the contest, Agent Majeur coached them with a training course called ‘Be convincing in 3 minutes’. Four of them unveil what they have learned from this experience about giving a convincing pitch.

Be well prepared

Pierre-Yves Thro: I spent more time preparing this presentation than a classical 20-minute one, for example. It requires an important preliminary work.

Robert Lacoste: By nature, a 3-minute pitch is very manufactured. The big risk, when you work intensively on a presentation, is that it looks artificial.

Jérémy Fain: You must know your pitch by heart. But, like in music, you must be able to get out of the score and adapt it to the context.

Involve the audience

RL: The key is to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. I asked myself the following questions: what does someone in the audience want to hear? And what are the key messages that may ring a bell?

Sylvie Lebrun: For example, it is necessary to bring societal issues to the forefront. Our laser sources can be used in numerous applications. For the Prize, I chose to highlight a specific application, linked to cancer. Everyone has heard of it so, of course, the audience felt concerned as it is a subject they are sensitive to.

JF: Personally, I work on solutions which are not intended for the general public. In this case, it is interesting to start the presentation with an example of an application of the solution close to everybody’s concerns. And later on, develop this example during the major part of the presentation.

Step back

SL: 3 minutes is frustrating for a scientist because you want to explain physical principles and go into details. This requires stepping back significantly with regard to what we have done.

Make things simple without excess

SL: In this contest, there is also an aspect of science outreach. To speak about an advanced scientific subject and make it accessible, you must avoid using technical terms in excess. And, if you use some, make sure you define them.

JF: It is a matter of balance: I couldn’t use jargon nor simplify too much as the audience was informed. You must simplify without being simplistic.

SL: In addition, people must feel more intelligent after this 3 minute pitch. In concrete terms, this means introducing one or 2 unordinary words and explaining them. In my pitch, I spoke about fluorophores. Initially, I thought this term was obvious and known to everyone but it was absolutely not the case.

Surprise people

JF: During the contest, there were 12 of us who pitched. We had to find a way of being original.

SL: Look at the audience, get them involved, engage with them, ask them questions… Playing the interactivity card helps build a particular relationship with the audience.

RL: And since it is a contest, there is a playful dimension to it. The presentation must be sufficiently ‘sexy’ to trigger something in the audience. For example, by including a little bit of humour.

Provide proofs

JF: Giving numbers, proofs, concrete elements is a mark of credibility. Amidst all the projects, some were emerging. By naming some clients, a big partner, tangible elements, we framed our project like one that is already established. It helps stand out from the crowd.

Thank you to Sylvie Lebrun (Institut d’Optique), Pierre-Yves Thro (CEA), Robert Lacoste (Alciom) and Jeremy Fain (Verteego) for their testimonies.

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> Public speaking

> Popularising science

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