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Oct 15th, 2015 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Removing Cognitive Dissonance

Yesterday we had our first pitch review here at Singularity University’s Startup Accelerator. Pitch reviews, which we do every two weeks, allow our founders to try their pitch in a safe and open environment. The founders pitch to a group of seasoned entrepreneurs and experts, receive candid feedback and get asked the hard questions — all with the goal to grow them and get them ready for demo day.

One piece of advice I find myself giving founders over and over again is “to remove cognitive dissonance”. Cognitive dissonance is typically defined as the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

What I refer to is the moment when, as someone who is listening to a presentation or pitch, I stop listening to the presenter and find myself in my own head.

This typically happens when the presenter says one thing and the slide state something else (often the small things — they say “we have 10 large customers” and their slides shows only 9) or when the presenter makes statements which make me do a double-take (e.g. your numbers don’t stack up or are inflated).

You want to avoid creating any form of cognitive dissonance as much as possible — you want people to focus all their attention on you, not on the question why you chose to pick three different fonts on your slides, why the numbers on your slides don‘t add up or why you verbally express something which is not fully supported by the statement on your slides.

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