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10 Tips for a Winning Hackathon Pitch


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I share with anyone competing in a hackathon concrete, hand's on tips, for delivering a winning pitch. Consider what story you want to convey to the judges as you demo the value, and technical achievement, of your hackathon creation.

I first presented this to an audience at the HackDFW 2015 event. All pictures you see were taken by me as I advised and supported the teams as a volunteer.

Good luck to you! Reach out to me on Twitter @KenTabor.

Published in: Technology
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10 Tips for a Winning Hackathon Pitch

  1. 10 Ken Tabor, @KenTabor Tips Winning for a Hackathon Pitch
  2. Have working code loaded. Disable sleep mode and screen saver. Get hardware on Wi-Fi if needed. Swap wallpaper for a solid color. Sweep away distracting icons. #1: Setup
  3. Choose roles before presenting. 1 demo driver. 1 speaker. It’s too hard to speak and demo at the same time. Remaining team are supportive extras. #2: Play Your Role
  4. Write down 3 key talking points. Serves as a loose outline. Don’t script - it sounds mechanical. Deliver your message authentically. Small paper notes are fine. #3: Speaker
  5. Keep on the happy path. Straying from it means potential disaster. When something goes wrong don’t freak out. Just recover gracefully. #4: Demo Driver
  6. Nod to support the speaker. Engage the crowd with eye contact (don’t be creepy.) Show your excitement. Be prepared to answer judge’s questions. #5: Supportive Extras
  7. #6: Practice Speaker and demo driver pitch out loud. Talk like it’s for real. At least 5 times to become comfortable. Give each other useful feedback. Reveal annoyances.
  8. #7: Relax After set up and practice take time to chill out. Hackathons are emotionally and physically stressful. Meditate. Power nap. Listen to music. High five each other.
  9. Are human beings who respond to stories. Might not be technical. Want to be sold. Are curious about the future. Will ask questions. #8: Judges
  10. Smile. Be confident. Vary your speech. Delete “um”, “uh” fillers. Pause silently instead. Stand straight. Keep hands out of pockets. It’s a skill you can practice. #9: Speaking
  11. Believe that we want to understand your work. Take us on a journey. Deliver value into our lives. Inspire and inform us. Show your passion. Build community. #10: Audience
  12. Remember great success is still yours for the taking. Define what it will be. Meet future colleagues. Learn something new. Finish what you started. Only 1 Team Wins Today
  13. I can’t wait to hear of your success. Share your story! Ken Tabor, @KenTabor
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