Business Presentations: 4 Keys to a Successful Dog and Pony Show

The more proper amongst us prefer that it be referred to as “the Road Show.” Whatever it is called, it is one of the most demanding, exasperating and truly frustrating experiences that any entrepreneur will be called up to participate in.

The tension comes from several fronts.

First, this is the hour that truly may make or break your company.

As if that weren’t sufficient, it is also a time when you will be expected to meet and entice a set of total strangers.

It is the time when failed equipment or misspelling in the overheads can spell disaster.

Most importantly, it is the time when the venture capitalists judge YOU. Your idea has already been presented, probably in a well-constructed financing proposal. Something in that proposal caught their attention – you may or may not know at this point what it was that caught their attention.

There are things that you can do to make this harrowing experience work. For instance:

1. Do your homework on the venture capital firm.
Find out everything that you can about this group: its focus, its members, its recent investments, its successes, and its failures.

Research the background of the key players. What boards of directors do the members currently sit on? What is each one’s specialty?

Have any partners recently joined or left the firm?

Has a new investment fund been announced?

What has been the investment trend of the firm over the past 2-4 years?

2. Incorporate your knowledge of this group into your presentation.
If, for instance, one of their portfolio companies would be your supplier or customer, show that name in the flow chart.

If your company’s success is dependent on recruiting from top universities, use the names of the universities that the partners attended as examples.

One young entrepreneur recently asked me why he should mention these names, insisting that the partners already knew this information. Yes, I said, they do know it, and they need to know that YOU know it. Let them know that they are important enough to you that you have devoted a fair amount of time to learn about them.

3 Break away from a PowerPoint presentation.

Don’t get me wrong – I personally think PowerPoint is the greatest piece of presentation software ever invented. I have used it – a lot. And so has everyone else.

Do you have any notion how many PowerPoint presentations your audience has sat through? Mmmm. That’s nothing I would want to do.

So demonstrate your creativity and show your product/idea in a different way. A prototype. A diagram. An image that builds item by item as you talk. Do a brief PowerPoint at the beginning, then break away into a different kind of presentation.

4. Make sure you respond to any questions that members of the group may have.
It may not be possible to bring all your team members to the presentation, but it must be possible to have them standing by in case you need to call for a clarification on a particular issue.

A good technique is to give a “short” response immediately, then promise a more complete follow up. This gives you a definite reason to contact the firm again.

5. Make sure there is a plan for follow up.
Don’t leave the room with issues dangling, or with no clear path for re-connecting with the investors.

Odds are, they won’t offer this re-connection, other than to say, “We’ll be in touch.” It is up to you to provide the steps for follow up. “I understand you would like drill down information on the 2nd and 3rd year projections. I’ll have that to you within 24 hours.” Then do it.

What’s Your Presentation Style?

Like most things in life there is more than one way to achieve it, this is as true with presenting as anything else. Each year we create a huge variety of presentations all of which have different briefs and outcomes; therefore we approach every presentation differently applying our own style to each.

However there are recognized PowerPoint design methods, I’m going to talk briefly about 3 of them and describe their benefits.

The Takahashi Method

This method uses only text or an image on each slide. Each slide will only contain two or three short words in very large text or a full screen image. The aim is to deliver a very clear impactful message in a short amount of time, which forces the audience to listen to the speaker since the slides alone do not give insight into the content of the presentation.

Although the presenter will have a lot more slides than usual, the time spent on each slide will be relatively short.

The Godin Method

The result of this method is to let the speaker do the talking and the slides do the showing. The aim is to focus on selecting compelling images to enhance your messages and to better convey thoughts and ideas. When you use this message you are using the image-centric slides to add clarification and significance to engage the audience more in your presentation.

The relationship between your content and imagery will have emotional benefits and lasting impressions.

The Monta Method

This method takes it inspiration from the Japanese game show host Monta Mino. Presenters use a simple question and answer format on their slides. Questions are posed to the audience and are kept hidden on the slide until answers are put forward. This is a very interactive method of presenting; it’s highly engaging and will add emotional connections between you and your audience.

This is a very sociable method of presenting and may not be appropriate all the time or for use as a whole presentation, but can be used occasionally during the course of your presentation to break things up and get the audience involved.

As you can see a there are a variety of methods all with great benefits to presenting, and everyone has there own presentation style and methods to help make your next presentation memorable.

How to Develop Great Presentation Skills – The 5 Sins Of Making Presentations

After many years of studying how people make their presentations, I’ve uncovered in my mind, the top 5 sins which many people commit when making presentations. Avoid them at all costs!

1. Starting like a caged mouse

Many presenters begin with a polite, “How is everyone” or “Thank you for giving me this opportunity” Rather trite, don’t you think? I am not saying that you should be rude. What I am saying is to get the formalities out of the way as quickly as possible and start with a bang not a whimper like a caged mouse. Give the audience a startling statistic, an “in your face” statement, an interesting quote, a news headline . . . something powerful that will grab their attention immediately!

2. Failing to “feel” your audience

If you fail to take advantage of the time before your presentation, you have lost a window of opportunity to enhance your credibility with your listeners. You should always arrive early to greet your audience prior to your presentation. Of course you would do this at your own functions. But when you are presenting to strangers, make it a point to “feel them ” – don’t arrive two minutes before your speech and leave immediately after it. Your audience wants to meet you, know you and understand the person behind that presentation. Give them this opportunity and you will connect with the audience better.

3. Making a presentation word for word from a prepared script

Can you recall when was the last time someone actually read to you? I bet it must have either been your Mother or Father and she/he was trying to get you to sleep! Instead of reading through a prepared script during your presentations, use a “keyword” outline. These keywords will prompt complete thoughts as you speak. Look down at the keyword, look into the eyes of the audience – then speak.

4. Speaking on a subject without passion

You want your audience to do something as a result of your presentation. Whatever you want them to do, there is a better chance that they will do it if you show that you are passionate about your subject. An added benefit is that your fears will dissipate when you are truly excited about your subject matter. Speak with passion . . . and you will inspire others.

5. Failing to adequately prepare

This is the mother of all cardinal presentation sins. It is amazing how many executives will take the stage without adequately preparing. They may have someone else prepare their slides and script for their presentation without their input. They may write their own rambling presentation that has no organization or purpose. Once on the stage, they fumble for their notes, they pause for a long time trying to remember what to say or they even go off tangent of what they are supposed to present. Don’t let this happen to you. You will lose credibility and worse become a laughing stock. Always PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE.

The good news is that these common presentation sins are easy to avoid if you recognize them. I am not saying that if you don’t commit the above sins, you would become a fantastic presenter, but rather, you will be much better off compared to most who refuse to make the effort to make adjustments to their presentations.