Why Presentation Matters Above All Else in a Pitch

“If the presentation that somebody puts in isn’t visually arresting, it’ll be pushed to the side. It doesn’t matter how good you think it is, it has to be visually aware.”

This is Kevin Gibbs’s advice to young entrepreneurs pitching their product or idea to investors. He has been with four startups from angel funding to the final sale of the company, and has worked on a number of turnarounds. He told us why presentation is extremely important in pitching when he and Jeff Greenberg joined us on the Cerius Business Today podcast.

Your presentation has to be interesting to attract funds and increase sales

Venture Capitalists (VCs) see lots of pitches of all kinds with innovative and ground-breaking ideas. Whether your idea is going to shake the world or not, it won’t matter if it’s not interesting.

“It has to be dynamic. It has to look interesting. The story has to be great,” says Kevin about a presentation. If yours doesn’t ‘pop’ out of 20-30 presentations, you’re not going to move on to the second round nor the third round, and you won’t score an interview. Quite simply, you won’t get that pitch.

“Although it sounds shallow, the presentation is 80% of getting the door open now. If you’re going to knock on the door and get through the door, the presentation has to be visually arresting. You can then go on to explain the plan behind it, but if you can’t make it visually arresting to them you won’t get past the first stage,” he adds.

Your presentation slides should be concise

Jeff Greenberg is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in the high-tech community and with technology-based startups. He always advises entrepreneurs to keep the presentation concise by getting rid of extra information.

To help the investor feel confident about funding your idea, they need to understand it. Rather than bombarding them with all kinds of details and stats, keep the pitch simple and emphasize your core idea and strategy by keeping your content concise.

“Don’t put a ton of words up there, put just enough words to get your point across, to get the conversation started, and then fill in if you need to,” says Jeff. “If you have five minutes to pitch, you should be able to zip through your pitch because everything that’s on those slides is the reminder and the key element that’s going to help mitigate risk and build confidence.”

Avoid Death by PowerPoint

David Ogilvy, famously known as the father of advertising, once said, “Most people use PowerPoint like a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than for illumination.”

It’s easy for a person to inflate their PowerPoint presentation with endless bullet points, images, text, and more. While it might mean more information for the investor to read about your idea, it also means one long, dull pitch meeting or short reading since they will stop after a few slides.

“If your pitch is not intriguing and visually arresting, you can easily get rejected without anybody ever talking to you,” says Kevin. He tells us, “If you send out a pitch that’s intriguing and they want to know more, you can then actually talk to them. But not if everything’s on there and it’s a 100 bullet points – a death-by-PowerPoint type thing.”

The idea is exciting to you because you have seen it since conception. Investors have not. Keep the PowerPoint focused on:

  1. Introducing the concept.
  2. Being clear on the total marketplace. The more concise and niched, the better.
  3. The real problem your concept is solving in that marketplace.
  4. How you will realistically capture market share.

The key word is ‘focus’. The moment the investor starts to read through your information and can’t get an immediate sense of the key points, your chances of them reading on or wanting to learn more are done.

Present the whole story to increase sales

Once you do get the meeting, investors will want to know about every angle of the business. That means being prepared for changing markets. Present a complete story on how your team can handle market and technology changes on a dime. Because of the rapid changes in technology and markets these days, you have to be able to show investors that you can adapt quickly.

“The markets change so quickly,” says Kevin. “And a lot of the times these days what’ll happen is that young entrepreneurs think the technology’s great or their version of the technology’s great, and they’ll forget about the market and the staffing and all the rest of it. You can’t do that these days because when you’re talking to an investor they want to know that not only do you understand the technology but you understand the marketing, you’ve got the right salespeople, you’ve got the right management skills. Everything needs to go into a mix. If you haven’t got a story complete, you’re going to shoot yourself on the foot when you’re standing in front of an investor.”

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