When I had to approach a venture capitalist for funding, I had sleepless nights. I wondered how to make a presentation that stands out.
Investors regularly come across a ton of small business owners. How you differentiate yourself from the crowd is as important as your idea, if not more so. If you try an unconventional approach, you risk losing the investment. If you follow the usual trend, your presentation might come across as plain vanilla.
This article will cover tips on making a presentation unique in the right way. It is like using the same ingredients of a recipe but dressing up the dish with a unique touch. Such an approach ensures the right balance between normalcy and craziness.
Here are 7 useful tips I have learned over the many investment pitches I have made. These contain pointers for both preparation and delivery.
1. Leave the first slide blank
As surprising as it sounds, the tip works wonders. At the beginning of a presentation, most people put up a title slide to explain what they’re talking about.
The problem with such an approach is, the moment you turn the projector on, all eyes are on the slide. Human beings will start reading by default and try to process the content.
If you leave the slide blank, all the attention is on you, the speaker. If you manage to make an impressive start with your words, you have given the impression that you’re not the usual founder the investor meets every day.
2. Start with a story
I have started many presentations explaining the product or the business in a few lines. Thousands of founders do the same and that shows a lack of presentation skills.
But the investors do not care about your business or the product. You might have the most sophisticated technology powering the system, but unless you sell the idea, you will return empty-handed.
Start with a story that explains the problem you’re solving. The narrative can be a real experience of a user or a made-up fictional tale.
For example, if your product is an umbrella, tell a story about a person named David who was stuck in a thunderstorm. Explain the benefits your business offers with a plot that goes from the start to the end.
People can relate more to stories than a bunch of slides with the features and technology stack. If you leave the first slide blank and begin with a delightful tale, you have set a strong foundation for the rest of your presentation.
3. Make numbers come to life
Find a way to present numbers interestingly instead of merely stating figures.
If your product helps a blogger reduce manual effort and save time, you can present it dull and bland, saying, “Our tool helps bloggers save 40 man-hours a month.” Sure, the investors will understand the benefit, but you won’t make an impact.
Instead, you can say:
- Our tool allows a blogger to write 10 more posts a month by saving 40 man-hours
- The effort reduced by using our tool can cut down expenditure by 2000$ at the rate of 50$ an hour
You can also add more flavor if you like. For example, if your product is duct tape, you can mention, “If we spread all the tape we have sold end to end, the length would be greater than the river Nile.”
The benefit is the same, but the message now sounds far more powerful. Make numbers relatable to real life so that they are easy to visualize.
4. Transition from one slide to another
Some presenters move from one slide to another saying, “I will move to the next slide.” Many others pause while they are switching slides.
You can make the transition seamless by talking about the next slide in brief and connecting it with the existing slide. Even if the slides are independent, you can still make a connection.
For example, let’s assume you are talking about the benefits in the current slide and attracting users in the next. After you finish talking about the benefits, you can say, “Now that you know the benefits, all we need is customers. We have already found out who they are and where they are.”
If you switch slides mid-sentence, you create a smooth flow and keep the audience hooked.
5. Make your slides visual
You thought paragraphs in a presentation were bad. Instead, use must bullets, right? Wrong.
Both paras and bullets are boring and expected. Stop wasting time with them. Besides, when you place text on the slides, the investors will start reading them by instinct instead of listening to what you have to say. Use icons and pictures to convey the message. Your slide does not need to be self-explanatory.
If your slide did all the talking, what’s the point of having you in the room? Keep your slide content pictorial and use your speech to explain. No written text can beat the power of spoken words.
6. Anticipate questions and answer them
Imagine you are the investor listening to your presentation. What questions do you think you would ask?
List down all such questions and evaluate them. If your questions add value from an investor’s point of view, cover them during the presentation. You can put them in the slides or answer them through your delivery.
You can add more oomph by saying, “You must be wondering <question>..” and answer an anticipated query before anyone asks. Answering questions beforehand gives a message that you have done your homework well.
7. Have a short version
On a couple of occasions, I was given a shorter time to present than expected because some other discussions spilled over. At that point, you have no choice but to present. It did not end well for me.
If you rush through your slides at a rapid pace, your presentation appears hurried and confusing. As a precautionary measure, prepare a separate presentation which you can deliver in half the time. Delete some slides, cut down some points, and prepare for a shorter(not faster) delivery.
You might even earn some extra brownie points for making a dynamic pitch even when the time was short.
Your presentation is your shot at glory in 10-20 minutes. It can take a product from an unknown status to a unicorn. Spending time and effort to make an excellent presentation will provide you a fantastic return on investment.
So, ditch the conventional pitching style and make yourself stand out.
About the Author:Maxim Dsouza is a self-improvement blogger. He has been a part of multiple failed startups and learned the hard way. On his blog, Productive Club, he provides unique tips and tricks on productivity, time management and entrepreneurship from his real-life experience.