MaRS Library How to prepare for your business presentation with investors
You’ve secured a meeting with a potential investor. You must first understand the makeup of the audience and the objective of the meeting. Being completely prepared involves fully understanding the situation before making the business presentation.
Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen provides a list of questions to understand about your audience before you make your business presentation:
- How much time do I have for my first business presentation? Typically, the first meeting with an investor will last 45 minutes to one hour. Arrive 15 minutes early. Prepare a pitch deck that you can present in 20 minutes, leaving time for late starts and questions. Be respectful of the time they’ve allotted. If you are interrupted or time is cut short, try not to let it throw you off. If an investor is not paying attention, continue to be respectful and professional.
- What is the venue like? You’ll generally present in a boardroom at their location. A site visit to your company is usually the next step in the investment evaluation process.
- What time of day will you be meeting? Take the meeting whenever the investors want to see you.
- Who is the audience? Try to find out which members of the investment team will be attending the session. You’ll also want to determine if anyone else will be in the room (for example, outside consultants).
- What is their background? This is very important to help tailor your talk. Will you be talking with technically-savvy investors with deep experience in the targeted space or general investors? Do they have connections to help you get financed or to help you build your company further? Ask around and get as much information as possible about them in advance. Do your homework.
- What do they expect of us? Investors expect a professional, strategic presentation, a demonstration of your innovation (if appropriate) and a leave-behind document.
- Why was I asked to speak? As discussed above, this is a critical step to assess whether or not the investor will continue to investigate your opportunity. They are assessing you, your team and your business opportunity, as well as how you handle questions and objections. The investors want to confirm that you are someone they can back, who can build a company and raise financing from other sources.
- What do I want them to do? You’ll want to think about what you want to achieve from your meeting. Do you want to move to the next step in due diligence? Do you want them to provide business or financing leads? Investors have very specific investment mandates. Even though your opportunity may not be a fit for them, most investors will provide advice and contacts if you’ve convinced them that you have a strong business proposition.
- What visual medium is most appropriate for this particular situation or audience? Typically, a PowerPoint pitch deck is presented using an overhead projector. Call ahead to make sure that one is available.
- What is the fundamental purpose of my talk? Investors can help you to build your company by providing access to funding or opening their networks. You want to sell them on your concept/company to move to the next step with them. It is unlikely that they will open their cheque book until they complete further due diligence.
- What’s the story? What is my absolutely most central point? Or, what do you want them to remember after you’ve left? Clearly communicate your fundamental business proposition. What is the pain in the market? How does your solution solve the problem? What is the need you’re trying to meet? What sustainable competitive advantage do you provide? You must demonstrate throughout your business presentation why you are the right company/person/management team to execute your plan.
Your business presentation: Your first step in selling to investors
Your business presentation is the first real step in selling your venture and the investors’ due diligence. They are assessing how you present, your level of professionalism and how you respond to questions or challenges.
Fundamentally, investors are making a decision as to whether or not the chemistry is there for them to work with you over the long term. Ensure that you are comfortable and confident with your material and its presentation.
Decide in advance who else will present—include the presenters in your dress rehearsal. Since the presentation will last about 20 minutes and involve about 10 slides, there should be no more than two people presenting. The CEO, along with either the technical or financial lead if necessary, should make the presentation.
Reynolds, G. (2008). Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.