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The most valuable lesson from Silicon Valley was about the art of mastering conversations and creating an entrepreneurial mindset. Transforming a conversation from “November fog” to “California sun” makes all the difference. No matter where you go and who you speak to, every conversation counts, and every pause can speak volumes. 

The view over Silicon Valley.

It is all about pitch, pace and pause

Imagine you are listening to a presentation. However, within the first minute, your mind drifts away. It does not have to be that way. There are simple tricks to capture your audience throughout the presentation, and you can practice them even in the shower. It’s an exercise about pitch, pace, and pause. During a session at the Bootcamp at UC Berkeley, we were asked to count from 1-20 on stage. We should alter the pitch and pace of our voices and include pauses intentionally. Next time you are in the shower, give it a try and experiment with the different effects of altering all three variables. This is the number one key to a good presentation. It really does wonders! And is highly useful whether you are presenting a topic in class or telling your friends about the latest trip. People will listen, and your words will have a greater impact. 

The 1-20 pitch/pace/pause exercise with our mentor Buddy in Berkeley. It can do wonders!

60 seconds to shine 

Picture this: You’re in an elevator, your dream investor walks in. This is your shot, your moment of fame. How should you do it? The most important thing: no babbling, no hesitation. Start within the first 5 seconds: 

YOU: Hey, aren’t you the investor “really cool person”?  

YOU: I’m “your-name-here” and I’m working on “insert-your-cool-idea”. 

Elaborate on why they should be interested, but use no more than 2 sentences.  Make it snappy, make it short, and then, drop the mic (figuratively, of course).  

YOU: “I gotta run, but can we discuss this later?”  

Do not continue talking at this point, be silent, use the pause, and wait for their response. If you’re lucky, you get the interview, if not, you try again next time. 

The mindset sets the foundations 

The majority of students at UC Berkeley are confident in their pitching abilities and ideas, even early in their undergraduate studies. The students may not have super-revolutionary or novel ideas but are confident in their presentation and persuasion skills. This becomes highly useful when talking to coaches and VCs for startup support. To the students, entrepreneurship is more of a mindset set on achieving amazing things rather than a set of activities to build a company from scratch. 

First thoughts matter 

Imagine you’re introducing an idea to an angel investor or presenting a topic in class. It’s all about how you start. There are two major things you should do before you enter the stage: Do a big yawn and put on your brightest smile. When entering the stage make eye-contact as soon as possible, and do not start until you have positioned yourself on stage. (Be aware of where the screens are!) Look at the audience, take a short pause, and start with a hook. Make it about them, about how they relate to what you are saying. Once you have them onboard, you’re good to go. All you need to do then is pay attention to their reactions, and don’t forget the pitch, pace and pause exercise. Oh, and end with a powerful picture they can take home with them! 

Taking in feedback 

Beyond the technicalities of pitching, comes the mindset of resilience and perseverance. Not every pitch session is going to go smoothly on the first try (or even the 10th try), and it is vital to be able to take in feedback, reflect, learn from failures, and try again. Periods of self-reflection allow the individual to highlight their strengths and learn from past mistakes, enabling their growth. We noticed that in Berkeley, it was not uncommon for many students to look for mentors and coaches who could help point out blind spots. Mistakes can accelerate such self-reflection, thus reflecting the students’ maturity in understanding their own limits and shortfalls.  

California sun beats November fog in every conversation.

So, there you have it. From creating more captivating conversations to mastering life-changing conversation opportunities, your mindset and the way you talk matters. Try these tips in your everyday life to be sure to master them in those moments that matter. If there is one thing to remember from the Aurora trip to California, it is the lesson about mastering the art of conversation to spark an entrepreneurial mindset. Whether you’re whispering your dream or shouting it from the rooftops, make it count.

This blog post was written by two of our Aurora students: Alex Premm, a Sustainable Mobility student at Aalto University and TUe, and Paul Wong, a Creative Sustainability student at Aalto University and a climate tech enthusiast.