Here is a somewhat counterintuitive piece of advice: The next time you pitch at a competition or speak somewhere — don’t be among the first to speak.
I meet a lot of people who rather go early than late. They want to have it behind them, go when everyone is still fresh and they believe it will aid them.
Truth is: It usually doesn’t work that way!
Here’s why: When you are amongst the first to go, the audience and judges haven’t had any time to measure you against your fellow presenters (they lack the benchmark). And thus they will likely give you a lower score — as they will hold back some of their “powder” for someone after you, who might be better.
I have experienced this myself twice in the last few weeks: I spoke at Singularity University’s Executive Program — my first talk was the opening keynote, my second one fairly late in the week-long program. My first talk was better — and yet didn’t score quite as well as my second when we asked the audience to rate them. Some of the qualitative feedback was literally “I would have given you a 5 (out of 5) — but I don’t know what else is coming.” And then I judged an internal pitch competition here at SingularityU and found myself in the exact same situation with shifted tables: I just didn’t know what the benchmark is when I had to vote for the first two or three presenters.
As Bob Dylan so eloquently sang:
_And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win_
If you have a chance to determine your position in the line-up: I would go towards the last third of presenters.