First, the length of the presentation. Keep it slightly shorter than what you think is right. When you practise the presentation (yes, you have to practise your presentation. Several times. Reading out bullet points is not really considered a presentation.) There are things that you skip because you know them, but when you present, you might have to explain some of them a bit longer.
Don’t be reluctant to talk about your ideas. Yup, I know that feeling of insecurity, but get over it and talk about your idea. More people you talk to, more leads you get. The master plan locked up in your head is no good. And do not ask the investor to sign an NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement) before you present the idea. Most of them will not, and it basically says you’re insecure. Although from a legal point an NDA makes perfect sense, that’s not how things work in the first meeting. Trust people enough, but no need to get into the smallest of details unless you see an interest. The people you present to will also appreciate this.
If you’re a tech company, keep the technology stuff to the minimum. Unless you get questions, do not go around using tech words everywhere. You know your stuff good. But no need to bore people with it. If you have to explain things, find a really simple way to explain them. You might think inserting that complex db structure or that large circuit diagram is necessary, but my thought is, you can do without it.
You really don’t have to go through every single detail. If possible, let the specialist in your team take them through some parts. Change of face is good, just to refresh things up a bit. If you sense boredom, change topic, talk bout something, crack a small joke, do something. Improvise. You really will need to, when you start your own business. Not everything always goes according to plan. Show them you can.
Before you rush the first slides to get to the interesting part (for you alone, most of the time), give enough time for the idea to sink in. You’ll notice that after your entire presentation most questions that you get are really fundamental ones, unless your investors are from the same domain as you. This is pretty common. And I had to learn it the hard way. Talk slow, give time for the basic concept to be really clear.
If you have a prototype, awesome. This really helps in the presentation. It also establishes credibility. If it doesn’t work during the presentation (you know how it is, test it 100 times and everything’s fine. But things just wouldn’t work at the meeting) don’t get all worked up. It’s a prototype, it’s not perfect. Keep going, if possible tell them what went wrong. Most importantly, be honest. Whatever you do, don’t start blame-shifting right there.
Consider this like speed-dating. Most meetings won’t have a result, most of them will not be successful and you know it in the first half hour. If that happens, do not get all disappointed and spoil the rest of the show. Be a sport, finish the presentation cheerfully. In other words, enjoy presenting your stuff. Hey, it’s your idea and you’ve taken the time to develop it. If you don’t enjoy talking about it, who will ?
Have a conversation. Agreed that the point of the meeting is to get money. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about anything else. Talk about things you like, keep it interactive rather than you blabbering about some technology while your investors yawn away. Most meetings don’t get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the end. I know, I know. It would be nice if they did but sadly, no. Do not get disappointed. Do not get angry. Do not get frustrated. Nobody said this was easy.
I know you’re thinking of the scene from ‘Pirates of silicon valley’ where Mike Markkula drove upto Steve Jobs’ garage and offered money. Well, that stuff doesn’t happen as often. At least not as often as we’d like, lol. Be charged, dear sire. Your time will come.
Best of luck!
Meet Rajaram Rajendran
Entrepreneur, designer, digital artist, wannabe musician and a jack of all, who thinks black & white photography is very cool.
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