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Missing Link: Richard Mulholland

Are you boring your audience to death? This team has a different approach – and it’s working

Juliet Pitman

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Richard Mulholland of The Missing Link

Missing Link’s payoff line this week (it changes on a regular basis) is “Don’t hire us because we’re fun and interesting– hire us because you’re not.” It’s a powerful sell to corporates who are looking to avoid the usual tedium of presentations that serve no better purpose than to put audiences to sleep.

Because let’s face it – sometimes the boss is not the most interesting person in the world, or indeed the best one to deliver a message to an audience; some things are just better left to the professionals.

And never was a team more well equipped to provide professional, innovative presentation strategy solutions than this one.One visit to their offices (if indeed they can be called such) gives you a hint of the uniqueness and creativity that’s on offer.

Founder and managing director, Richard Mulholland’s office is a bedroom with a bed, couch and bookshelves. You enter the main office via a bathroom. The open plan reception and design section looks more like a bar than a work space and the client presentation room is a beach replete with beach-sand, deck chairs and a viewing screen.

Clients sit here, barefoot and in their suits, sipping cocktails while watching their presentations. Other offices are decorated according to each team member’s taste and personality – there’s everything here from unicorns to Goth and skate themes.

As a perk, the company pays for staff to get tattoos. It’s an unconventional work environment, to say the least. But it’s also one that speaks volumes about the collective creative talent housed within its walls.

It’s interesting to note however that, while the Missing Link team might be as far from “corporate” as you can imagine, they manage to strike exactly the right balance to enable them to service big-name clients like Nokia, Coca-Cola, Liberty Life, Standard Bank, Deloitte & Touche, Absa, Consol, Broll Property Group, Stanbic, Medscheme and Dimension Data.

And these are only the clients on the books this week. Mulholland has a policy of only referring to companies as clients if the teamis currently busy on a project for them. “Anyone can do one job for a company and call them a client, even if it was just a once-off thing,” he explains.

This said, most of the companies he lists represent repeat business. Missing Link’s reputation among the corporate world is so good, in fact, that Mulholland, who heads up sales, hasn’t had to make a cold call in years.

“We try to make it easy for people to talk about us,” he explains,adding, “We rely on the fact that if we can make the experience of working with us good enough for you, you’ll tell a friend.” The strategy works; all of the company’s new business is as a result of referrals from satisfied customers.

Missing Link only focuses on presentation solutions, unlike many competitors who offer presentations in addition to event management or advertising concepts. “We focus solely on the best way to get the message across,” says Mulholland.

And while creativity obviously plays a key role in achieving this goal, he’s acutely aware that because a presentation is creative, it doesn’t mean it’s getting the message across. “Too many companies that offer presentation services focus on pretty pictures and creative concepts, but they don’t pay any attention to how or why people process information.

The picture, while highly creative, may be completely irrelevant to the message you’re trying to put across.”So what makes for a great presentation?“Keeping it short and to the point is probably the most important thing. Presentations shouldn’t go on for more than 20 minutes if you can help it.”

He says one of the biggest mistakes corporates make is to try and tell their audience everything just because they have them in one room – instead of sticking to the key message. The other boring presentation culprit is incorrect use of visual aids. “I don’t hate PowerPoint – in fact I think it’s a phenomena ltool. It’s just badly used,” says Mulholland.

“People need to learn that visual aids are not supposed to serve as speaker’s notes, or text for the audience to read.”“You owe it to your message not to have a boring presentation. People can’t process information when they’re uninterested,” he concludes, adding that, at the end of the day, it’s about being nice enough to your audience not to bore them to death.

So if you notice people nodding off the next time you drone on in a presentation, perhaps you need to admit that there are more fun and interesting people in the world than you. And if you place any value on effective communication, giving them a call might not be such a bad idea.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

CEOwise

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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