Virtually anyone with a computer and PowerPoint (PPT) software can produce a professional looking presentation these days. And, if you have even a grammar school understanding of graphics, you can make one look quite slick. And therein lies the problem with the majority of company presentations that I review these days.
Formatting, color selection and font choices often engage entrepreneurs in more discussion time and debate than the single most important factor: content. Hands down, it’s what you say: how clearly, how concisely and with how much evidence-based information that wins over investors.
While everyone seems to know the term “elevator” pitch, no one seems to know how to apply it to a PPT presentation. Almost daily, I review business proposals designed in PPT and see long sentences, full of hyperbole and unsupported or irrelevant data. I rarely see evidence that the author of the presentation took the reader’s point-of-view into account.
So here are my five rules of a great business/investor presentation.
- State your case in a compelling and concise manner.
- Avoid clichés and jargon: today’s words of the moment, “solution” and “disruptive,” are as hackneyed as the recently laid to rest “new paradigm” and “bleeding edge.”
- Anticipate questions that your presentation raises with the audience and then answer them, rather waiting to be asked.
- Lead your audience to your message with a clear logic, rather than random thoughts. Think of yourself as presenting a closing argument to a jury instead of as someone laying out the case.
- Listen to the questions that your audiences ask and read their expressions as you present. Then, incorporate what you learn into your next version.
For a company seeking funding in the extremely competitive investor marketplace, it is vital to understand that a clear and concise presentation is refreshing to the audience and important to your success. In selling, there is a subtle distinction between telling someone why your product and service is worth purchasing and explaining how it will benefit them. In other words, sell the benefits and not just the features.
Great professional speakers and presenters know that you have a very short time to win your audience over in person. In an online, webinar environment, where you are deprived of the precious “eye-contact” commodity, this period can be as little as 60 seconds. In that regard, you seldom get feedback from an audience that a presentation was “too short.” It’s almost always, “that was awfully long” or “a lot of time was spent on stuff that wasn’t relevant” or the worst possible comment, “all the presenter did was repeat/read the information that was on the slides.”
Bottom line: Be a value-add to the PPT. By rehearsing, anticipating and understanding what you are trying to accomplish you make yourself and your company interesting, not simply a slick slide show.