Public Speaking: A Differentiator in the Start-Up Community


You have painstakingly put your CS or engineering background to work and developed the next new technology to disrupt a billion dollar industry. From a product standpoint, it is a work-of-art, brilliantly conceived, meticulously designed, and with a UX that’s as intuitive as it is sexy. All that’s left is to get it in front of investors, users, and the general public, but unless you have one additional ingredient, the potential of all your hard work is likely to go under-realized.

Having a brilliant idea and designing it flawlessly is not enough.

Public speaking is not a skill typically emphasized in STEM disciplines. The traditional assumption is that your success is dependent on your idea, design, technical prowess, and other STEM-related skills. So-called soft-skills, like interpersonal communication, are often an afterthought in STEM.

Ignoring the importance of public speaking during the design and launch of a new technology can mean failure instead of mainstream adoption.

The obvious situations where public speaking can make or break your technology include:

  • Giving your pitch at a demo day or conference;

  • Presenting to early-stage investors;

  • Introducing your product through media appearances and interviews;

  • Delivering product presentations and having a captivating brand ambassador at conferences and trade shows;

  • Applying to an accelerator like AngelPad, Y Combinator, or Techstars.

But public speaking also plays an instrumental role in these less obvious aspects of your start-up’s success:

  • Sharing your vision, philosophy, and excitement with employees and partners;

  • Bringing together your business units--product development, sales, customer support, and executive leadership--to achieve overarching objectives;

  • Providing clear and essential updates to inform your users, investors, and employees;

  • Rallying employees around common goals;

  • Training your business development and sales teams to convey not only the utility of your product, but also spark genuine enthusiasm and excitement for the product and its capabilities;

  • Communicating your immediate, medium, and long-term goals to stakeholders in a way that builds your bandwagon.

Public speaking isn’t just main-stage keynote addresses and product demos. You are ‘public speaking’ every time you say something out loud.

Taking time to perfect your public speaking skill is just as important to the success of your start-up as the design of your product or service. How you describe your product, the energy and excitement your description evokes, and your ability to effectively and efficiently showcase its benefits, all play a major role in how your brilliant idea is accepted. In fact, as an employee of Techstars recently shared with me, “We even accept companies into our accelerator in-spite of their product. In these cases, something about the founders’ shared vision, energy, and work ethic convinces our program directors to take a chance.”

Given the importance of public speaking to the success of a start-up, investing time and resources to professional communications training can pay substantial dividends and be the difference between a good idea and a growing company.

To learn about the high-energy public speaking programs provided by The Professional Communicators, visit