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Sherry Realogy FWD_720As a broker with Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, which is part of Realogy, I’m excited to participate in the Realogy FWD innovation summit on June 17 at its headquarters in Madison, New Jersey. This is the second annual event where 15 real estate technology companies will demonstrate their products in front of a live audience, answering questions from judges, and vying for a $25,000 grand prize.

What does it take to win the Realogy FWD Innovation Summit?

Last year, I was one of the six judges on the panel, which picks three contestants and submits them to an audience vote for the grand-prize winner. And I apparently did such a good job at judging that Realogy has asked me back…to sit in the audience and not say anything. But since it’s tough for me to just sit and watch when I’m at something like this, I’ve volunteered to live blog the event at

Since I’m not a judge this year, I thought it might be helpful for the contestants to share my perspective on last year’s experience, and give them some advice about how to make the best impression. Many of these tips can be used for anyone trying to make a good first impression with any pitch.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice
The best presentations were tight and well-developed. That’s harder than it sounds. You have five minutes to pitch before you start answering questions, so be quick. Most of you have done your pitch a bunch of times to investors and whatnot, so you’ve probably honed it just fine. But if you’re not all that comfortable speaking, get comfortable or put someone up there who is. And rehearse under timed conditions, because there’s nothing worse than seeing that red light go off when you’re still just getting ready to get to the good stuff.

2. Show, Don’t Tell
Classic cliché, I know, but it’s true. This is your chance to show off your product to the people who run some of the biggest franchise systems and brokerages in the country, as well as several industry thought leaders. So show it off. Don’t spend a lot of time introducing yourself, your company, your history, or the clever Greek/Latin origins of your name. Don’t even spend a lot of time introducing the product. Just tell us enough to get us grounded in what your product does, and then get right to the demo. And make sure your demo shows off the best and most meaningful features of the product – we don’t need to see everything, just the good stuff. Skip the vegetables, go right to dessert.

To read my last three tips on going after the grand prize tomorrow, please visit our latest post on our BHGRE Clean Slate blog, “How to Win the Grand Prize at the FWD Innovation Summit: 5 Tips for the FWD Participants from a Former Judge.” While you’re there, take some time to look around the new blog!