It’s the way I tell ’em, legendary Irish comedian Frank Carson once said. This is good advice that some of the presenters on the Innovate Launchpad at the Smart IoT show in London this week should heed.

As a member of the show’s Board of Patrons and panelist for most of the launchpad discussions, my role was to provide feedback, and constructive criticism, to presenters. Over the course of the show, presentations from start-ups varied tremendously – from the inspirational, to the ones where, frankly, I didn’t have much of a clue what they were talking about.

Stand-out presenters were easy to spot: They’d have a tight crowd of people clustered around the presentation area, while there would be empty seats going begging for those who were still to master the craft of storytelling.

In general, the winning speakers were those whose presentations were relevant and accessible to the audience – made up of a wide spectrum ranging from IoT experts through to attendees at other parts of the mega trade show, which also included Cloud Expo Europe,  Data Center World and Cloud Security Expo.

Those who missed the mark made mainly the same mistakes – their presentations were inside-out in their content (for example “we’ve done this, we’ve done that”) and either failed to get to the point, or were unable to communicate the relevanceto the audience. My notes are peppered with comments like “messaging is inside-out”, “not quite sure what you’re selling” and “why is this of interest to me?”

Making your pitch stand out from the crowd
There were a few stand-out presentations. In particular, I was inspired by surgeon Shafi Ahmed, who captured the imagination of all around when he talked about the final stages of preparation for his ground-breaking live streaming medical operation, taking place today at St Bart’s Hospital in London. As Shafi noted, everyone in the world has a tacit interest in having access to a surgeon, should they need one, but today there are billions of people who don’t have this luxury – so sharing via virtual reality can help in training new generations of surgeons.

His was a simple story – a value proposition that’s accessible to everyone, with a bit of drama (the blood and guts) – and, fingers crossed, an uplifting finish. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

By the way, this picture – of Shafi wearing a virtual reality headset, which has been seen around the world – is also misleading, since he completed the operation (of course) without wearing a visor – he was there and could see what was going on, first-hand. It’s just an example of how a picture can also tell a story, even if sometimes, there’s more to it than you might think.