Businesswise and Pitch Perfect
English language specialist Dieter Bruhn helps entrepreneurs polish their business communication skills like pitching and negotiations.
For Dieter Bruhn, pitching an idea is an extremely important aspect of entrepreneurship. “People often have great ideas for products and businesses, but the key is to create a pitch that will catch the interest of others and hook investors,” he says. An English language specialist and entrepreneur, Bruhn’s extensive background in business communication makes him an ideal mentor for young entrepreneurs who want to learn the nuances of successfully promoting their business ideas. He was in India recently, working with entrepreneurs in Shillong, Guwahati, Kolkata and Ranchi as part of a project sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata. “I enjoy helping entrepreneurs polish their skills in the areas of pitching, negotiations, leadership and team building,” says Bruhn. “I’m very excited to be working with the entrepreneurial communities here in India.”
Participants come to Bruhn’s workshops to learn to communicate successfully as entrepreneurs and promote their businesses. A typical workshop usually covers presentations and pitching. “We focus on creating formal two-minute pitches and presenting these in front of a live audience, which is very important,” he says. “We, then, move on to longer, formal presentations. We also cover elevator pitches, which is a new concept for most entrepreneurs.”
Participants often have a problem being succinct with their points. Bruhn shows them how they can be clear about the core idea and its benefits, gently leading participants to highlight the most important aspects. This format also ensures that participants learn to capture the interest of potential investors and consumers, and present their ideas in greater detail.
Negotiation skill is another area of focus. “The big focus here is on negotiations and communication aimed at win-win solutions for both the entrepreneurs as well as the investors,” says Bruhn. “The best outcomes are those where the entrepreneurs and investors find mutual benefit. That’s why I encourage participants to learn how to build connections in business and nurture them.”
Leadership is also key to maintaining and growing an independent business. Often, people with different personalities and work styles lead ventures. So, how do you deal with the conflicts that may arise? The benefits of different personality types are discussed, and Bruhn emphasizes that there are no “wrong” personality types. The idea is to understand why people behave in the ways they do and then find strategies to interact constructively and cooperatively with them. As Bruhn says, leadership skills help entrepreneurs lead and build on their ideas. “This can be about important aspects like deciding on a course of action and running an efficient organization,” he adds. This leads to conversations on team building and diversity. Bruhn says that it is important for participants to appreciate the strengths of a diverse team.
Participants often have questions related to negotiations, like “What do you do when you are dealing with a hard negotiator?” and “Hard negotiators always want to win, so how do you arrive at a win-win situation for both?” “We talk about principled negotiations that focus on finding solutions and reaching agreements that benefit both parties,” says Bruhn. “Because principled negotiators tend to be more creative and explore more options than hard negotiators. In many cases, the outcome can actually result in a hard negotiator benefitting even more while also allowing the principled negotiator to win at the same time.”
Each group Bruhn trains is unique and has different areas that they need to work on. “I work with groups but treat every participant as an individual to ensure that they get the training they need to be successful,” he says. Business communication is an intercultural field, and Bruhn says that being flexible is important. Through his company, One World Training, he has conducted cross-cultural training workshops across the globe. “It’s important for entrepreneurs and other professionals to recognize and respect differences in cultures, so that they can build bridges and interact more successfully in the global marketplace.”
Bruhn is deeply impressed by “how creative, innovative and forward-thinking Indian entrepreneurs are,” but what really moves him is their deep desire to make a social impact. “They are interested in profits, but they are also definitely motivated to make a difference,” he says. “For example, one venture is focusing on making artificial limbs that are significantly less expensive and more sophisticated than current models.”
These workshops provide entrepreneurs with valuable tools that can help them promote and grow their businesses. “Programs like these open up new doors and support the entrepreneurial spirit of Indian people,” says Bruhn. “So, the more we offer workshops like these, the bigger impact we can have.”
Paromita Pain is an assistant professor of Global Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.