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How to Pitch to a Venture Capitalist: Part 2

June 20, 2017

Crafting a Killer Presentation

The success of an investor pitch hinges on how well your presentation grabs and sustains an investor’s emotional attention. Only with a firm grip will you be able to chauffeur investors along your pitch’s timeline, which, if crafted correctly, will have investors begging to give your company money.

According to David Rose, a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and TED Talk lecturer, your pitch should be like a rocket. It should start with a blast by grabbing investors’ attention within the first 10 to 30 seconds, and steadily build up to an explosive finish.

“You’ve got to grab their emotional attention, focused on you, within that [sic] first few seconds,” Rose says. “And from there, you’ve got to take them on a very solid, steady, upward path, right from beginning to end…And you’ve got to get better and better, and better, and better. And it’s revving up to the very end, and then at the very end you’ve got to — BOOM — knock them out of the park.”

To do this smoothly, you need to make sure your pitch progresses logically. It must thread together a tapestry of points that are coherent and consistent with one another.

“Start with telling [investors] what the market its,” says Rose. Then:

  1. Tell them why you’re going to do X, Y, or Z
  2. Tell them how you plan on doing it
  3. Clarify what exactly it is you’re going to do

To keep the presentation’s flow going, you need to show investors you have the skills and characteristics they care about, not just say you have them.

You can do this in a variety of ways:

  • Let them know there are touchstones, like referencing companies they have heard of, to tie your idea in with the rest of the world out there.
  • Provide validators: sales figures, awards, other investors, successful beta tests. These provides credibility to your idea.
  • Simplify and clarify confusing or complex concepts.

On the other hand, there are things that can cause you to lose grip on investors’ emotional attention, discount your credibility, and kill your momentum. Avoid the following:

  • Statements that the investors know are not true, i.e. telling investors “we have no competition” when your market is saturated.
  • Confusing investors with complicated ideas they don’t understand.
  • Patronizing statements.
  • Unrealistic projections, like claiming to make 10 billion dollars your first year.
  • Factual inconsistencies, i.e. one slide shows your sales as $5 million/year, but another slide shows them as $1.3 million/year.
  • Errors, typos, and all silly mistakes.

The last point shows investors “if you can’t even do a presentation, how the heck can you run a company?” Rose says.

The Blueprint of a Successful Presentation

For many people, Steve Jobs was the ultimate master of presentations. He adopted a minimal, Zen-like aesthetic, a style that kept the focus on him and maximized the emotional impact of every point he made.

Here are some presentation tips to glean from Steve Jobs’ style:

  • Short bullet points = good, long bullet points = bad
  • Even better than short bullet points are no bullet points
  • Images work best, especially simple ones

Here is Rose’s specific blueprint for a good pitch:

“None of these big, long-titled slides with ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’ and ‘I’m presenting to so-and-so, such-and-such date.’ I know the day, I know who I am, I know you’re presenting. I don’t need all that. Just give me your company logo. I look at the logo, and it sort of ties it to my brain. And then I come back to you. I’m focused on you, okay?

“You do that, you give me your quick 15-second or 30-second intro, grab my attention. And then you want to give me a quick business overview. This is not a five-minute pitch; this is two-sentences. ‘We build widgets for the X, Y, Z market.’ Or, ‘We sell services to help somebody do X.’ And that is like the picture on the outside of a jigsaw puzzle box. That lets me know the context. It gives me armature for the whole thing you’re going to be going through. And it lets me put everything else in relation to something you’ve already told me.”

Now that you have this blueprint, you need to learn one more crucial thing: how to deliver the ask. We’ll cover that in our third and final part of this blog series. Follow us on social media to get the first chance to read it: LinkedIn / Google+ / Twitter / Facebook

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