Posted on by Gonçalo Costa
Pitch - How to present?
another theme about pitch, because there's a lot to say
A pitch advocates three dimensions of analysis: preparation, presentation and questions. Like the publication “Pitch! A trendy concept or something truly substantial?” explained the preparatory process, naturally the focus now is on how to make your presentation. So, regardless of the technological option (Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezzi, etc.) or not (“no network” presentation), we will analyze which structuring principles to take into account.
It is unbelievable how most entrepreneurs do not understand the real heart of the presentation! The focus should be on the idea, value created and options for the investor instead of the company or production process.
A presentation facilitates information for the audience, so the way to create it is ultimately relevant. So, the question that needs to be answered is: as an investor, what do I value most? In other words, the concept and the associated investment, as well as the options, are the essential factors for understanding this.
Any quality pitch is based on a good story about the idea or the entrepreneurial team. As is known, these have the particularity of incorporating common or unique experiences in order to involve an emotional response. Note that the answer varies from investor to investor (personality), but comedic episodes of the origin of the idea or team interaction are common denominators.
Structure and content
a) Presentation summary
Explain the 3-5 topics to be addressed in the pitch, and the order must be logical. The conservative option, to be discussed onwards, starts with idea (concept and characteristics), team (structure and history), market, cash flows, investment and scenarios (risks and options). However, a bold approach is to reverse thinking, i.e., to explain the scenarios resulting from the investment versus cash-flow relationship as a market response to a team idea. There is also a third way: first to present the team (added value) and then an idea, market, cash flows, investments and scenarios.
Numerous presentations include extremely detailed information, jargon or vague assumptions. Credibility is not obtained through this route, but through specific and contextual information for a quick understanding of the concept, cash flows versus investment and investor options.
c) Use of examples and data
In a similar way, whenever possible, the inclusion of relevant examples and data creates added value. Therefore, the option of incorporating contextual and metrical examples is much more valid and facilitating than describing the concept and market. This option is a symptom of a deep knowledge of the context and, as such, generates a feeling of credibility with the investor.
It is also important to include a time horizon of the different phases or actions that the concept or product requires. In other words, if it is a prototype, include timings for:
ii) construction of the final product;
iii) launch on the market.
As with the ex-ante points, this creates credibility to the entrepreneur (s) intentions and indicates a positive response from the investor.
Thinking of the presentation strategy as one, i.e., the creator being the only person to present it is a common mistake. It is typical in pitches to be another team member to present or to be shared (team work). Therefore, the placement of simple tips along the slides makes it infinitely eligible (understandable by others).
b) Slides “Zen”
Popularized by Steve Jobs, these slides balance the amount of content and visual elements (design) to avoid excessive information. This allows the interested party, but also the speaker, to focus on the essential and relevant issues.
c) “Rule of 3”
Unfortunately most people ignore more than three synchronous elements! Therefore, it is crucial that the slides contain only three essential ideas and / or informational “pieces”. The totality of these must correspond to one third of the presentation time.
d) Expressions to avoid
Choosing buzzwords (fashion concepts) is a classic mistake! Some examples are: “thinking outside the box”, “innovation”, “disruptive”, “optimizing”, “change”, etc. The best option is substance (practical or contextual examples).
The secret to an excellent pitch is exhaustive training (“muscular” memory), in order to look totally natural! This process has three dimensions:
i) oral expression – recording and listening to multiple occasions serves as a learning experience;
ii) motor expression – body analysis in front of a mirror is a great option;
iii) time – testing disparate speech speeds to understand the impacts.
Final note: despite these principles it is important not to overlook common sense!