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/
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