The culminating session of any hackathon is pitching: The part where you get to share what you have been working on. Though this is important, many people do not win because, among many things, they neglect to be ready for it.
In all my experiences of being in the judging panel, judges look for the credibility and likeability of the team. Likeability is relative. The credibility part, you can get away with and score 100(Seen this many times).
Having sat in many judging sessions, I can reveal the following about these sessions:
1. Let your pitch be understandable.
Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash
- Be clear in describing what you built and how it works.
- Avoid jargon as much as possible. Not all judges are technical so try to create a balance between technical words and non-technical words.
- Keep it as simple as you can when talking about your solution. The rule of thumb here is that a 6-year-old should be able to understand you.
- Avoid showing the code you have written unless asked to do so. What you do here is show how unprepared you are. In addition, you are also confusing the business people. They think that the solution does not work. Finally, as developers, we all know what happens with live demos. :)
2. Have energy when delivering your pitch
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- Have energy as you present. the judges are looking at who among the teams are excited about their solution.
- The delivery of your pitch matters too: Choose the one with great presentation ability,
- Everyone always wants to hang around big people.
- Even if you have been coding for 24 Hours without sleep, try to be as excited and full of energy as possible.
- Boring presenters make the judges doubt their ability and solution and will poke holes at it.
Photo credit: Teemu Paananen on Unsplash (Karri Saarinen presenting at Nordic Design)
- How different are you from the other presenters: You are being judged against others. The judges should remember you.
- Your slides are important. Do a good job designing them.
- Avoid more than 10 words in a slide if you can, The judges with either read your slide or listen to you as you present.
- Rehearse your presentation. Practice makes perfect.
- Use the time wisely. If you have 5 minutes, Its little time, use it wisely to cover all that is needed in the presentation.
- Be audible.
- It is a conversation that you are having with the judges.
4. Big Picture
- Is it something you plan to build a post-event talk. (most events take this post-event approach)
- Talk about the business side of your solution. How do you see it being used in the market? Be realistic and ambitious at the same time in your estimate numbers.
- There are non-business people in the judging team.
- What would happen if you were to launch it? What are the next steps?
Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash
- Demonstrate the strengths of what you’ve developed.
- Make sure it works!
- Combine a demo with PowerPoint if this helps you get your idea across. But balance time in between the two.
- Make sure the demo is included within the presentation time. You do not want to have your teammates scrambling to get the demo visible and working at the same time!
Do you have any other tips to add? Or experience from attending various hackathons? share your ideas below!