Movies almost never start right at the beginning.
Instead, the story begins in the middle of the action. This leaves filmmakers with the difficult task of filling the audience in on the details of what has happened in the past before moving forward with the storyline of the film. Screenwriters call this “exposition”.
When done poorly, this sticks out like a sore thumb. You have seen this before: two characters at the beginning of a movie filling you in on details via trite dialogue. Example: imagine two people talking over beers in a bar — Character 1: “Gee, our coffee shop just isn’t making enough money.” Character 2: “Yeah, Jerry the owner is not going to be pleased to hear this news.”
Sure, the audience can glean several key points from this back and forth…but that does not excuse its lack of tact. It is possible to convey a film’s exposition with more subtlety, and in more interesting ways. Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Rear Window begins with the protagonist in a wheelchair, both legs broken. The camera pans over several pictures, from which the audience learns that the main character is a photographer who was injured while taking pictures at a race track after an accident.
Hitchcock always felt that presenting exposition without the use of dialogue was more interesting to the audience.
It may seem cold and impersonal, but it is also pragmatic. When pitching at Startup Weekend, you have 60 seconds to make an impression. You must state the facts, offer relevant information to the audience, and then step down. While I have no doubt that your own exposition is fascinating, keeping your verbal articulation of it to a minimum is a strength, not a weakness.
Put another way: Guy Kawasaki, in his seminal startup book The Art of the Start, writes: “I’ve never sat through a pitch by an entrepreneur…and thought, I wish the speaker had spent the first fifteen minutes explaining his life story.”
Elegance is not a matter of what you choose to include, but everything that you choose not to include. Restraint is a powerful influencer when used judiciously.