7.0 Present to Investors

HOW TO PRESENT A BUSINESS PLAN >> Each section contains key Action Items located within the downloadable Action Guide >> Click to Download Action Guide.

Now that you’ve prepared your elevator speech, as well as the first draft of your investor presentation, let’s turn our attention to getting the investor presentation ready to go.

The very first thing you should do is take your current deck of PowerPoint slides, as well as your draft presentation, and run through the presentation.  If possible, videotape the first presentation.  You should also time it.  Now if you didn’t write out the text during the earlier segments, stop right now and write it out.  If it is written out, make sure it’s typed double space in bold in at least a fourteen point typeface.  Put page numbers on each page.  Until you commit your presentation to memory, be certain to do this.  Then do one last thing: note in your written text when you will switch from slide to slide.  Go ahead and pause the audio to do these things.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Check off each item once it is complete:

___      Text for each part is written out

___      Text is double-spaced and in 14 point typeface size. Example: Arial 14 pts

___      Text document has page numbers on every page

___      Text document has been updated to note when to switch slides.

___      Slides are ready and meet the 30 font size and 10-15 words per slide rules.

Now practice! Videotape or record your presentation. Note the length.

Congratulations!  You’ve now completed your first run through of your presentation!  How did it go?  How did it feel?  Let’s start the editing process.  Begin, first, with your time and the number of slides.  Are you at or near Guy Kawasaki’s target of ten presentation slides and a length of no more than twenty minutes?  If so, good!  If not, stop the tape and begin the editing process.  Find a way to get the length down.   You’ve got a very strong incentive to do this.  Remember my comments about many entrepreneurs not doing a very good job with part four of the presentation – “payday?”  It was likely because they spent too much time on earlier segments, ran out of time and had to rush through parts three and four.  Edit your presentation so this isn’t a problem for you!  Go ahead and edit now if needed.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Check off each item once it is complete:

___      Presentation is 10-12 slides

___      Presentation is no more than 20 minutes in length

___      All parts are given appropriate emphasis, especially Part 4 “payday”

Refine your presentation until all items have been met.

Now that you’ve got your presentation down to the target number of PowerPoint slides, as well as the target presentation length, let’s focus attention on your PowerPoint slides: time to make them pretty, but not too pretty!  Many presenters are under the impression that they need to have flashy graphics, that a great PowerPoint presentation is what will sell the deal.  Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, before you go any further, I want you to give your presentation a second time, this time with your PowerPoint slides only in written form.  Print out the slides and give your audience a copy of the slides with space next to each slide to take notes.

Now, give the presentation again, videotaping or audiotaping it.  Stand at a lectern to give your presentation and have your audience follow the presentation with your PowerPoint handouts but no PowerPoint presentation.  Once you’re done, go back and watch the videotape or listen to the audiotape.  Was it a good presentation?  Did it flow smoothly?  If it didn’t, go back and edit your text.  You need the text to stand on its own without the benefit of any PowerPoint slides. After all, you may be called upon to give the presentation without PowerPoint slides.  PowerPoint is an extra benefit, not the heart of your presentation.  Edit your text now if needed.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Check off each item once it is complete:

___      Request an audience for your presentation

___      Print out slides as handouts for your audience

___      Prepare presentation: set up video/audio recorder, seating for your audience, and an area to deliver your presentation.

Now host your practice presentation without using your slides. Afterwards, review comments from the audience, then videotape or audiotape. Refine your presentation as needed.

Now that you’ve got your basic text down and can give the presentation without a Powerpoint projector, let’s turn our attention to the slides themselves.  We’ll pretty them up without making them look too pretty!  Remember what Guy Kawasaki said?  Don’t use any type font that is less than 30 points in size.  The bigger the point size, the bigger the letters.  Kawasaki is right, but I try to be even more restrictive: I don’t think you should have any more than 10 or 15 words on any given slide.

While I discourage text, I encourage you to use good pictures. Remember, one of your objectives is to tell a story.  Pictures are a great way to tell a story so try to use them if you can.  Not essential, but it’s nice.  As you minimize your words, also try to minimize numbers on each slide.  If possible, try graphs.  A properly chosen graph can convey much more than a column of numbers.

Also minimize, or better, do away, with fancy PowerPoint tricks, things like dissolving slides and embedded audio and video unless the embedded audio or video is part of telling a story.  For example, I have no problem with the inclusion of an audio clip from a satisfied customer raving about how your new product solves a long-standing problem.  Bring it on!

Remember, though, that the true test of your presentation is when you can give it without PowerPoint.  It must be convincing without PowerPoint slides projected on a screen. Get your PowerPoint slides ready.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Check off each item once it is complete:

___      Double-check slides to ensure all text is 30 font

___      Double-check slides to ensure all slides have about 10-15 words per slide

Now review you slides carefully. Can you replace any of the text with pictures?

Save a second copy of your presentation so that you have one with text only and another that you can edit with pictures and text.

Compare, test, and evaluate both presentations. Combine the best slides from each part of your presentations to create one 10 to 12 slide presentation.

Let’s now discuss how you’re going to rehearse your presentation.  It’s written out. Your PowerPoint slides are ready to go, so let’s begin.  Before you start, let me offer some tips on your written text.  As I mentioned earlier on, type out your text double space and print it in at least 14 or so point type.  You should be able to read this easily at a lectern with the pages on the lectern but with you looking at your audience.  You’ll want to get to the point that you’ve pretty well memorized the presentation, but take your speech along with you to refer to at any point.  This will help you to relax, especially if you’re afraid of forgetting your lines.  Next, put page numbers on the bottom of each page.

Do one final thing: dog ear the bottom right corner of each page. The reason you do this is to make it easier to turn pages as you give the presentation.  You won’t actually turn pages.  What you’ll do is as you’re ready to move to the next page, grab the page’s dog ear and pull the page off to the right into a separate stack.  You can do this easily while continuing to speak to your audience.  It doesn’t matter that the completed pages end up in a stack because you’re done with them.  The important thing is to move comfortably from page to page of your presentation.  The dog ears will help you to do this.  Go ahead and pause the audio.  Practice your presentation in the manner I’ve just described.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Check off each item once it is complete:

___      Dog-ear the bottom right corner of each page of your presentation text

Practice your presentation using the technique just described.

Now let’s focus our attention on the actual dynamics of your speech – how you present.  Go through your presentation and find the points you really want to emphasize.  Once you’ve identified those points, go through and highlight them in your written text.  You can do that either by underlining the text, bolding it, putting it in different colors – whatever seems to work for you.  You want to be careful not to have a monotonous voice.  You also want to highlight certain things for your audience.  This is a way to do it.  With that in mind, go ahead and practice your presentation again, then watch it on videotape or listen to it on audiotape.  Get others to listen and watch too, seeking out their honest feedback, then make adjustments.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

Now practice your presentation again using the method and technique described.

Write down your audience’s feedback.

Keep practicing your presentation.  If possible, get others to watch it, both to people who are involved in your company as well as those who don’t know anything about it.  In the case of the people who watch it who are involved in your company, ask them to concentrate on the content of the presentation: have you covered the key points or should you change certain things around; should you change your emphasis? Ask them, are there any better stories I can tell?

In the case of audience members who don’t know anything about your company, get them to focus on whether or not the presentation makes sense.  Too often times, we assume the audience knows certain things about our company.  We assume the audience knows more than they actually do.  I find I do that all of the time.  With that in mind, get the people who don’t know your company, who don’t know your business, to listen to see if everything makes sense.  If something doesn’t, make an adjustment.

If possible, practice on someone who is a potential investor.  When you do this, though, keep in mind something else I heard from my father the salesman.  He said, if the company comes up with a new innovation, you don’t want to take the new innovation to your best customer.  Take it to a relatively unimportant one.  Why?  Because if anything goes wrong, better for it to go wrong with the unimportant customer than your most important one!  Innovations often have kinks that need to be worked out.  Work out the kinks with the unimportant customer.  When the product is perfected, then take it to the big customer.

The same principle applies with your presentation, which is very much like a new product.  Give the presentation to a relatively unimportant potential investor first.  Solicit honest feedback and make the appropriate changes.  Once you’ve incorporated those changes and have a polished presentation, take it to the potential investors you’re really trying to impress.

If you don’t have a friendly investor you can turn to for advice on this, contact a local angel investment group.  You can find these people either through the Angel Capital Association or a Google search of angel groups in your area.  Contact the group’s leader, tell them what you’re trying to do, and solicit the name of someone who might be willing to listen to a presentation to help get it ready.  Most likely, you’ll find at least one person willing to help.

Another idea is to find a local Toastmasters club and solicit help.  If you’re not familiar, Toastmasters is an international association of local clubs whose purpose is to help people improve their speaking skills.  Quite apart from your effort to develop your presentation, I encourage you to look into the organization.  Going through their structured program can dramatically improve your ability to give presentations.  Early in my career, I joined a Toastmasters Club in Houston.  I went through the entire program, earning their highest distinction, Distinguished Toastmaster.  I believe it is one of the top three things that have helped me have a very successful career.  I haven’t been in Toastmasters for nearly 25 years, but there are still lots of Toastmasters clubs around.  Find one and solicit their help with your presentation.

When you’re just about ready, there’s one more thing you can do: develop what’s often called an “anchor.” Here’s what you do.  Think, for a moment, of a time when you’ve been absolutely on top of the world, especially when you’ve achieved something very important.  Maybe it was the way you felt when you won an important sports event in school.  Maybe it was winning an award for something you did.  Remember the way you felt at the moment.  Do you recall that wonderful feeling?  Weren’t you on top of the world?  Didn’t you feel as though you could accomplish almost anything?

What I want you to do now is to take your dominant hand and make a fist of it.  If you’re right handed, make a fist with your right hand; if you’re left handed, do the same with your left hand.  With your dominant hand in a fist, now close your eyes and think about the way you felt when you were on top of world.  As you do it, squeeze your dominant hand.  Do it several times, until your mind associates the hand squeezing with the memory.  You now have an anchor: in future, you can recall that fantastic feeling instantly when you squeeze your dominant hand.

Why do I want you to do that?  Because I want you to do that immediately before you’re ready to give either your elevator speech or your investor presentation.  I want you to be on top of your game! You never know when you’ll have to give the elevator speech.  Remember, though, just before you give it, put yourself into the perfect frame of mind with your anchor.  Use the anchor just before you give your investor presentation.

There’s one more step before you’re ready to give your presentation.  You need to have your reinforcements.  Your reinforcements are all of the other data you have about your company that might be relevant.  You’ve got your presentation ready.  Take everything else you’ve got and organize it in such a way that you can refer to it during a question and answer session.  Think of all of the questions someone might ask about your company?  Each time you come up with a question, write it down on a 4 X 6 note card.  Put the answer to the question on the back of the card.  You can also make PowerPoint slides up for these questions.  If you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation, put the “reinforcements” just behind your presentation.  Try to put them in the same order that your presentation is.  In other words, first put the backup slides associated with the first part of your presentation, then the backup slides associated with the second part of your presentation, etc.  Once the formal presentation is over and it’s question time, you can refer to the appropriate slides as questions come up.  If you will be doing your presentation without PowerPoint, put the questions and answers on 4 X 6 note cards.

Once you’ve prepared the reinforcements, practice answering questions.  Put together an audience and have them ask questions.  Videotape or audiotape your answers, then watch and listen to see how you do.  Keep practicing.

The final things you need to do relate to each presentation you give.  Once you’re on the schedule, do the following:

1) Confirm the amount of time you have to give your presentation.  If it’s less than your standard presentation, find out the policy of the group.  Tell them you have a twenty minute presentation and see if they’re willing to make adjustments.  If not, adjust your presentation.  Prepare an abbreviated version of your comments.  It can’t hurt to have a 10 slide, ten minute version of your presentation.  Just follow the guidelines we’ve discussed above.  Write out your presentation and practice it.

2) Find out the group’s policy on handouts.  Plan to bring written copies of your presentation, just in case the Powerpoint projector doesn’t work.

3) If the group to whom you’re presenting has its own computer and LCD projector, bring your own as backups, just in case. Always bring your presentation on a thumb drive style memory stick.

4) Try to arrive early enough to look at the meeting room and to get comfortable with the environment.

You’re now ready to go.  If you’ve followed my guidelines, you’ve got a great presentation!  Remember your anchor, relax, take a deep breath, and give the presentation of your life!

In the final segment, I’ll talk about next steps you can take.  As you practice your presentation, you’ll keep getting better.  Always remember, however, that every speaker, no matter how good, can be a better speaker.  So the final segment is devoted to ways to keep getting better.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

FIRST, search for local Angel Investment Groups by searching online for “Angel Capital Association” or simply “Angel Investors, [state]”. List them here:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

SECOND, search for a Toastmasters Club near your area using the Internet.

1)

2)

3)

THIRD, contact the groups you identified and see if someone is willing to assist you.

FOURTH, develop an “anchor” and practice it.

FIFTH, prepare your reinforcements: note cards, slides, etc.

LASTLY, practice your presentation and elevator speech over and over again. Practice using the “anchor”. Practice answering questions and using your reinforcement materials. Involve people who can help you perfect your presentation such as the people you contacted from Angel groups and Toastmasters.

Next — 8.0 Perfect Your Presentation »