Ready to share your zeal for your idea? If you've read our previous posts, you have an idea of the essential material to include. Now we'll talk about the actual presentation.
Tips for Engaging an Audience
1) See if you can tell a story. You will most likely be competing with many other groups for funding -- and stories are more memorable than facts. For instance, a good way to begin your presentation is by exploring what motivates you. Is the “Why” of building the business compelling or inspiring? Will what you are doing make a “dent in the universe”? Does the founder or team have unusual histories or characteristics? Has your progress or testing so far exceeded expectations? You get the idea.
2) Use visuals – graphics, diagrams, and pictures. Short videos can also be effective to explain part of the presentation.
3) Apply analogies, anecdotes, similes and metaphors when possible.
4) Present as a team. If you have a team member who is confident in their presentation skills, have them explain the ideas and slides that apply to their area of expertise. At minimum, have them available for questions. This can demonstrate a depth of resources and commitment that ensures investors there is an intellectual critical mass behind your venture.
Helpful General Presentation Tips:
It helps to remember the LSO Rule (Legible, Simple, Obvious):
Use text that is large and in charge! If they can’t read it, they won’t be able to understand it
Use a simple, readable font
Have a good contrast on the slides -- Dark letters on white or very light backgrounds is best. Colors are great for accents, but think carefully before using reverse slides (dark or red with light color lettering) as these can be hard on the audience’s eyes.
Simple – use short sentences and one idea per slide. Make sure you know the point of the slide.
Obvious – Don’t make the audience guess at what you mean.
Explain acronyms and technical words
Label your graphs and charts clearly
Use graphics that can be understood at a glance. You can test if a slide is obvious by showing it to someone uninvolved with your idea. Ask them to tell you what it means. If they don’t immediately say your idea, try explaining and redesigning until it works.
Overall -- Be succinct and to the point. There may be 100 reasons why your idea and company is great, but people will only remember 3 – 5 them. So evaluate and list the critical ones and then limit your presentation to slides that express or support them. Maintain eye contact and keep your momentum going; be aware of time limits. Have a good close -- practice a short summary that emphasizes the key strengths of your team, market opportunity and product fit.
In closing, I have attached some presentation tips that will help you connect with most audiences.
A final note about the Q&A that follows your presentation:
In some audiences, you may encounter challenging questions and some might seem like criticism. You’ve worked hard and poured a great deal of yourself into the idea, so you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel at least a bit defensive. Take a deep breath and stay calm! Listen and try to explain using their words or building on their thoughts rather than defending in a point / counter point style. (This is easier said than done – but by applying good listening skills, disipline and practice it is a winning tactic to use!)
This blog post is based on many resources as well as experience and observation. If you are working with a business coach or incubator, be sure to check their resources. Additional resources are noted below.
Some helpful links:
Kauffman videos on creating a strong presentation:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270420 (Good short article on stories)
Best pitch deck examples: http://onboardly.com/startup-pr/best-startup-pitch-decks-of-all-time/
Once you’ve assembled your basic information on market, team and technology, you can start thinking through how to organize the visuals you will use when presenting to potential investors.
Sometimes it helps to follow an outline to help organize the flow of the presentation and to make sure you’ve included all the pertinent areas. If you don’t already have a presentation flow in mind, you can start with the structure below.
Slide 1 – Title slide that is shown before and during your introduction. It should feature your company name, logo, or perhaps a picture or diagram that is intriguing and somewhat abstract that ties to your overall business start-up theme.
Slide 2 -- You and Your team
Title / Skill set / qualifications / unique characteristics.
Try to keep the team bios to one line with a picture.
Include a brief story on the impetus behind the idea or how it was “hatched”.
Slide 3 – Problem you solve
Your product / service may address more than one need, but focus on the main problem -- the one with the most potential, or one that you plan to address first. Keep out of the weeds, so to speak.
Slide 4 – The Solution
How your idea solves the problem.
Slide 5 – Market size
The total market need for this solution. You may want to show the total market size and the total serviceable market size, as well as the market you can initially address in a one to two year time frame. Remember to account for competitive responses when calculating your market share. Explain how you arrived at your numbers and any assumptions that you made. A scaled diagram is useful to convey this type of information.
Please note: For many ideas, investors may ask for 3 and 5-year projections on your numbers so be prepared with this extrapolation so you can respond if asked. But keep the slide as simple as possible by including only key information.
Slide 6 – How it works … Product/Technology/Scalability
Describe the idea in a way non-technical people will understand. Avoid or explain any acronyms or technical jargon
Slide 7 – Business Model and Financial Plan
This is the “Show me the money” slide – explain how your idea will generate revenue. Investors will be curious to see what your business could look like when it is successful.
Slide 8 -- Your plan – the path that will get to Slide 7
You may want to include:
Timeframes and resources needed
Milestones that may require more funding
How you will measure success – metrics and milestones
Risks and how you will deal with them – Example: For competitive risk, explain any barriers to entry - intellectual property, or other ways you can keep others from taking your market share in the near future.
Slide 9 – The “Ask”
Unless you are pitching in a contest with a defined investment amount, it is helpful for investors to hear exactly what you need. Focus on why you need the capital and how it ties into your plan.
If you are looking for support other than cash - for example, business advisors with a specific experience or pilot opportunities for your product, include these needs at this point.
The key to a successful presentation is to have the right information, tailor it to your specific audience, and get them totally engaged in your idea. If this flow doesn't work for you, go with one that seems logical and test it out!
Thanks for reading,
Note: This post was developed from observation, research and advice from investors. Thanks to all who helped!
We would love your feedback on this post. If you like it - please share it with your network.
Watch for tips on presenting in our next blog, “Engaging with the audience”.
You’ve got a great business idea, put together a team, created a business plan and are furiously working. Bootstrapping has worked so far, but now you're at the point where you need capital to expand on your idea. That's a new ballgame, so to speak, and it involves...
Pitching to investors
To gain the needed cash, you’ll have to convince investors your idea is extraordinary and worth risking their time and money. A key tool you'll need is a pitch deck.
So what do you need to build a pitch deck? What is the best way to get started?
Like any presentation, begin by thinking of your audience -- Investors. Your job is to convince them that you, and your idea, will potentially give them a good return on their money.
The basic areas you'll want to cover in your pitch are: Market, Team, and Technology.
Market - Who will buy and why:
What is the problem you’re solving and how big is the market? What segment of this market can you reach, and what is your go-to-market strategy?
How is your solution better than alternatives currently available? What facts or research support this?
Founder / Team – Who are you and your team:
What unique background, education, experiences and talents show you are qualified and driven to succeed.
Technology - How your unique and competitive idea will work:
Do you have a business model that can generate an ROI?
Is it sustainable?
Do you have defensible Intellectual property or other barriers to entry?
What are your goals and plan to get there?
Once you have the essentials of your pitch deck pulled together, it’s helpful to think about the logical order of the presentation and what to include on each slide.
We'll give you more information on the slides in the next post: “Eight slides for a perfect pitch”.
Thanks for reading -- have a good week!
About our Blog:
Marketing Tips is dedicated to providing busy professionals and local businesses with information on marketing trends, strategy and tactics in a way that is both accurate and easy to read.