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Get The Message

The first step in preparing a presentation of your idea is to have a quick, exciting and understandable explanation of it. Try to get your message across in 25 words or less. Brevity is key because if you can't communicate the essence of your idea immediately, you'll lose your listeners.

Not sure how to start? A great place to look for succinct descriptions is in catalogs. A catalog must quickly explain what the product is and, at the same time, sell you on buying it. Thumb through several catalogs, and pick well-written descriptions that grab your attention. Then modify the text to describe your idea. This exercise forces you to edit your description down to its most essential elements. If you can't describe your idea in 25 words or less, this could be a sign that it needs further refinement.

When working on your de-scription, come up with a great opening catch phrase. When I presented my TopsyTail idea to people, I always began with, "This tool can create a totally unique hairstyle in less than three seconds." Make the listener want to hear more.

After hearing a concise description of your idea, a listener will want to hear the answers to five questions:

1.Is your idea unique?

2.Is it patentable?

3.Is there a market for it?

4.How much will it cost to manufacture?

5.Does it fit with the other products in the company's line?

Answering these basic questions should be the cornerstones of any presentation, written or oral.

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Now Showing.

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