Having had a chance to go through the investor pitch last week, I feel obliged to share my feelings on how one’s initial criticism toward an organization can be so effectively defeated by the ability of its representative to be capable of defending itself, while organizations that are well prepared for presenting yet do not offer the expertise to answer criticism, or are even offered criticism, frequently appear lackluster and disappointing.
It should come as no surprise that our group, when asked to consider Girl Guides USA, was nonplussed by the wide range of similarities the group seemed to have to the ages old and familiar Girl Scouts, including the very fact that they both shared funding in some respects. However, our criticism and skepticism proved valuable insofar as we never reached the point of completely dismissing the organization in our minds. Thus, when the presenter was asked to defend her organization in regards to the heavy criticisms we had been able to find, she was able to answer very harsh questions and prove her organization’s ideals to be resilient both in the face of close competition and investor criticism. We were, to say the least, impressed with her answers and all commended her for being so involved with her organizations goals.
Yet in another presentation that was not aimed to our group, I felt the a negative experience emanating. The presentation was given in a very wooden manner with well prepared, but static, responses that did not convey a feeling of actual belief on the part of the presenter. The questions asked were detailed, but not critical, and the answers given on the part of the presenter were accordingly free to just regurgitate more statistics and promises. I would have appreciated both harsher questioning on the part of my fellow directors, and an increased degree of personal input on the part of the presenter. The negative combination we saw in this incident had me imagining that we could have replaced the speaker with a computer with voice recognition software to read off parts of the website to the directors when questioned.
I feel that these investor pitch events are ideal situations in which we can put good potential projects on the defensive through our heated questions. When we demand answers to real criticism that is inherent in any organizational structure, we get farther as an organization and come to trust the people who are selling the idea to us more.