Speech of the Month, January 2024 - Derry Green
Derry Green's clarity, vision, charm and calm had dragons eating out of his hand
Although I always watch Dragons’ Den if it’s on, I’m not exactly sure why. Fact is, I find it a very tense watch. From the second the budding entrepreneur enters the lift to the Q&A section; my toes are usually curled and my face is set in a grimace. Will the contestant deliver a convincing pitch; will they be told their invention’s naff; will they falter when they’re grilled on the figures; will they be told they’re living in cloud-cuckoo land if they think they’ve got a viable business on their hands…? None of it’s comfy.
But now and again, probably every other series, something incredible happens. The entrepreneur steps out of the lift, they give a blinding account of themselves and their business and the whole interaction between them and the dragons is a joy to behold.
On 11 January, I got to experience this rare feeling once again when glamping king, Derry Green, entered the den and blew the dragons away with this creativity, vision, charm and calm. If you’ve yet to see the moment when he had Peter Jones et al eating out of his hand, then take a look now.
Here’s why Green triumphed…
He made a fair offer
Early in his pitch, Green stated that he wanted £100K for a 5% share in his business. Later in the exchange he was super-clear about the profits the business has made. It always amazes me that some contestants don’t rehearse this and know these figures automatically. But Green stated that his net profit for the year will be £470K and, given that, a 5% share feels fair. But remember all those who enter the den with a business that, after embarrassing probing it’s established, hasn’t made a bean, yet only want to give away 2% of the business. Of course, they never get an offer because who wants to partner with someone who's sketchy and / or too greedy?
He told the story of his business
Rather than skirting over how his business was created, Green successfully told the story of it. From describing how he camped in the garden with his kids during lockdown for something to do and thought, ‘that wasn’t very comfy’ to building a home site that would be comfy, to posting pics on social media and having people ask if they could rent the space, he told a story that was visual, familiar, extraordinary and triumphant. It was impossible not to delight in his unexpected success.
Being able to describe the creation story of any business in a compelling, memorable way is beneficial. If this isn’t something you’ve worked on for the organisation you work for, then you should give it some thought.
His vision was unswerving
When Deborah Meaden questioned Green about tariffs and he revealed that he has no high or low season rate, she visibly bristled. Other contestants, to win the investment, might have then said, ‘But that’s something that could be adjusted’ but not our hero Derry Green. “I’ve never liked that families have to pay more because of the school holidays. Putting prices up then just doesn’t sit right with me.” This melted the heart of the other dragons and it was clear that Deborah Meaden was going to have to accept his approach to tariffs. His vision was unswerving. And Meaden did accept it. She made him the offer he wanted. And again, the chat re tariffs was further proof of Green’s fairness and decency. He was now irresistible!
He appeared completely calm
As he delivered his pitch, he didn’t shuffle and he didn’t rush. These are two very basic but highly effective delivery tips that I’m constantly imparting to clients: plant your feet in a grounded stance and speak more slowly than you do in day-to-day life. These tips won’t feel natural at first. But with practice, they become second nature. And whether they do or don’t feel natural, your audience will believe that you’re calm if you do them. And if they believe you’re calm, they can tune in and really listen to you.
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