Presenting a business to a group of investors is one of the most nerve-racking experiences an entrepreneur faces. Those 20 to 30 minutes can mean the difference between a successful business and one that goes nowhere.
The investor presentation varies depending on who the investors are, for example, venture capitalists, angel investors, loan fund, or friends and family, and what stage of the process you are in. Nonetheless, your investor presentation has three main goals: First, and most important, is to sell investors on your business; second is to present yourself as a competent and passionate owner in whom they’ll trust their investment; and third is to persuade the investors to move you on to the next step in the process.
Any speaker knows that he or she has to connect with the audience to make an impression. In the case of an investor presentation, you’ll need to be prepared to answer many types of questions, from how you’ll grow the business to what relationship you would like with your investors. Know how many people will be there and from what parts of the investors’ organization. If you know their specialties, you’ll be able to prepare answers to their questions.
Your investor presentation should answer the following questions clearly and succinctly:
- Who are you?
- What is your product/business?
- What is the growth/market opportunity?
- How will you manufacture, package, and sell your product, and to whom?
- How will you price your product, and what is the margin?
- Do you have your pro forma financials?
- What specifically is the most exciting element of your business or product that makes it unique in the marketplace?
- How much money do you need and for what purpose?
- What is the timeline for the investment (stages of development)?
- Will you be seeking additional funding after a first round?
- What will the investor receive for his or her investment?
Keep these points in mind as you prepare your presentation:
- Always write an outline of your presentation. Include notes for each slide.
- Use your slide deck as reference points, not a script.
- There should be no more than 12 to 14 slides and a minute or two for each slide, leaving time at the end for questions.
- Avoid zooming type, fancy fonts, or flashy editing that comes with slide presentation software. Use no more than three bullets per slide and use type no smaller than 24 points.
- Practice your presentation so it comes naturally and does not sound rehearsed. While that might seem like a contradiction, nothing is worse than reading from your outline or forgetting to mention an important point. You should know the material backward and forward. If you do, you’ll present a polished and confident picture.
- Address potential negatives as opportunities.
- Give financial data succinctly (avoid using spreadsheets in your presentation; use graphics instead).
- Bring multiple copies in many formats. Copy your slides onto a disk as well as a jump drive and bring your slide deck as a handout (investors may want to make notes).
Be respectful of your audience’s time, and finish your presentation with a few minutes left for questions. Answer questions as quickly and succinctly as you can. If you don’t know the answer to a question, try not to get defensive; instead offer to research the answer and reply via e-mail. Keep a neutral and professional tone, no matter how challenging the questions become. And above all, let your passion about the business shine through.
Emily Esterson is a contract editor and business writer.