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Earlier this evening over 60 participants arrived for the latest Startup Weekend Aarhus Health event, held at Via Community College in Skejby, Aarhus. The college neighbors one of Denmark’s largest hospitals and hosts several educations in the area of health.

Although the focus with this Startup Weekend is health, the range of skills at the event is broad. They range from health care professionals, physiotherapists, web designers, and entrepreneurs, to biologists, communication and marketing experts, to hands-on skills like carpentry.

This wide range of skills is one of the distinguishing aspects of a Startup Weekend. However, another area of uniqueness is around how the participants are activated to get networking and share their ideas. In fact, almost as soon as participants arrive they are encouraged to pitch their ideas to one another right away.

Prior to this latest Startup Weekend, Sussi Bianco, one of the instigators of Startup Weekend Health here in Aarhus, invited participants to a pre-event. Here the participants had the opportunity to receive expert advice on pitching as well as a chance practice their skills in just 60 seconds.

We interviewed Sussi following the event and asked her to give us her expert tips on how to pitch an idea at Startup Weekend Health.

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“One of the most exciting things about Startup Weekend Health is that people get the opportunity to meet others with completely different competencies to their own,” explains Sussi. “For business people, for example, they get to know people from the health sector that they probably wouldn’t get to interact with as a normal part of their daily activities.”

Sussi also states that it’s the same for health care professionals who often only have the time to interact with colleagues or patients.

“I remember one of the first Startup Weekend Health participants who was a health professional. She told me that the event changed her life because she got to meet people who had competences that she had no idea existed. She said she realized the knowledge and skills she got from other people she could adopt into her daily work.”

One of the skills Sussi is referring to is pitching. Often this is a neglected skill because we take it for granted that we can explain or pitch our ideas. However, learning to pitch in just 60 seconds is a craft that requires practice.

Sussi gave us 3 of her expert tips to get you pitching for your next Startup Weekend.

“The first tip is ensuring that you make your pitch memorable. One of the ways to do that is to make clear the skills and background that you have to work with your idea. You can also choose to include a funny or unusual instance that highlights the problem you intend to solve.”

Sussi’s second tip is about the problem itself. In short, make sure it is clear, precise, and understandable.

“This also means that a pitch in the Startup Weekend sense is not always about the solution but about what pain or problem you aim to solve together with other people.”

And Sussi’s last tip highlights the importance of needing a team to fulfill an idea.

“The important part of making a team is in ensuring that you find people with competencies that are totally different from your own. And part of your pitch should be stating exactly the kind of skills you need to make it happen.”

One of the aspects of pitching many participants struggle with is time. Because there is usually a high number of people pitching their ideas at a Startup Weekend, there is a practical reason in limiting them to 60 seconds. However, as Sussi states, this is a limit to embrace rather than dread.

“The funny thing is that when you get used to the format of keeping things short in just one minute it doesn’t feel like a short time. Our experience shows that when you get used to getting to the point in 60 seconds, that it is a skill that you can use in a lot of other areas to convey ideas beyond Startup Weekend.”

This last point is one of the most important when it comes to deciding whether to participate in a Startup Weekend. While Startup Weekends are about turning ideas into businesses in just 54 hours, it is also about more than that. It is about what you take home. It is about the new skills and experiences that affect all aspects of your life. Learning to convey ideas simply is exactly one of those skills that can only prove itself useful after getting the chance to practice it in a safe and energetic environment like Startup Weekend Health.

Antoniya Doneva