Completeness kills momentum

/ blog / completeness kills momentum

Peter Kuyt

February 7, 2018

Peter Kuyt


pitching | presentation

When you’re performing brain surgery on me, I want you to follow all the necessary steps, meticulously. When I’m using your software, I love it when you’ve got all of the bugs out. If I’m putting together an IKEA desk, I definitely want all the parts to be there. Lots of situations require perfection, completeness.

When I’m attending your presentation though, it is quite the opposite. I want you to skip all the uninteresting details and get to the essence. I don’t want to know it all. I’m after your Big Idea. The part that makes you stand out. The thing that will make a world of difference to me.


Excitement or fear?

Sure, you are excited about your subject. Why else have a presentation about it? For excited people however it is a challenge to sense when it’s enough. When to shut up. By no means am I urging you to lose your enthusiasm, I just want you to keep your antennas out to check if we’re still listening.

As well as excitement, presenters often have a fear. A fear of missing something. Of being judged for the things they leave out. As a consequence, they stuff their presentation with details, in order to be complete. To prevent their audience from asking questions. It’s the silly idea that receiving smart remarks will make you less of an expert. That your presentation will lose its impact. The opposite is true: when we’re being engaged, your story will have more impact, because we feel part of it. Getting questions from your audience is a good sign that they’re involved.



Trying to be exhaustive puts us back in our seats, like school kids. It makes us passive listeners, being lectured. Focusing on the big idea however activates our imagination. It makes us participants.


One shot?

You might say “but I’ve only got one shot at this”. Sure, pitching to a certain audience often is a one shot opportunity. But remember it’s only going to be a one shot event if you fail. If you manage to spark enough interest, there’s likely to be a next meeting. In which you’ll be able to tell a bit more. Still not all, but more. Just enough to make it to the next presentation.


Think 80/20.

Applying the 80/20 rule, always a good idea, will help you decide what to keep and what to toss out. Which 20% of your product’s features determine 80% of its strength? Which 20% of your clients are you most proud of? Which 20% of your entire story do you need to tell, in order to convey 80% of your message? Focusing on the essential 20%, will give you 100% of our attention, and make 100% of the impact!


The power of three

You can help your audience in processing the content you provide, by applying the power of three. We are apparently very good in digesting information if it’s presented in batches of three. Veni, vidi, vici. So have a look at your long list of benefits and pick three. From your impressive list of clients, see if you can highlight three. If you have 12 reasons for me to join your team, choose three. And of course, one is even more powerful than three.


Killing your darlings

If the above was simple, we would all do it and I wouldn’t bother writing about it. It isn’t simple. Reducing, selecting, striking also means leaving out some parts of your story that you love to tell. That you’re passionate about. It hurts to skip that, sure. Yet it’s this pain that confirms you’re getting there. To the essence. It’s worth it.

(There’s a few other things that I would have liked to share here. But they got killed.)

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About me:
I am a brand designer at Visual Friday. I help serious startups with serious brand building, to make serious impact. Want to know even more about me? Check the About page. Want to see what I’ve done? Check my portfolio. Want to get serious? Send me a note at