We know what it’s like. You spend weeks preparing, analysing and re-reading your presentation.
You nail it every time. Then you step into the boardroom… At this point anything from self-confidence to nerves kick in and your mind goes blank. All those weeks of preparation disappear in an instance and your left looking for words.
Whilst we’re not here to help boost your confidence (directly at least), or to manage your nerves, we can provide you with some great tips to ensure you’re in the best possible position when you step into the room;
OK, so we already covered that you’ve no doubt been doing this for weeks. If you haven’t, you should have been! You know your business/product better than anyone but this can also be your downfall. You don’t need to let investors know every inner detail. Instead, try to step out from the inner workings and only give your listeners the information that they really need to know.
On top of this take a moment to step back and consider the questions anyone listening may have. From “Why should I give you £15 million when the company hasn’t even made £15?” to “Why are you trying to produce, market and distribute 10 products at the same time before you see if a single one sells at all?”. Taking time to cover all the basis may feel long winded now but you’ll thank us down the line.
Practicing in front of the mirror isn’t going to cut it. You need to practice to an audience (of real people). Whether it’s family and friends, networking events or local stores. Practicing in front of a live audience is the only way you can experience a share of the nerves on the big day. The more you get used to the pressure, the easier you’ll find it on the big day.
Take a leaf from a comedian’s book. Yes, we find them hilarious but that’s not the case for all their jokes. They spend years trying new material to live audiences, if it works they keep it, if not it’s out the window. At least that way you can judge how your presentation engages and alter it accordingly.
Need we say much more? People may think your product is useless, but if you can back it up with numbers that’s all investors care about. After all, it’s all about them seeing return on their investments. If you can show them that’s what they’ll get you already have them hooked.
It’s also worth having multiple projections (best case, moderate case and worst case) to show you really have a grip and understanding of your financial workings.
You may have heard of the term elevator pitch. If you haven’t it may lead to trouble. When it comes to keeping attention, lengthy explanations will only turn investors off. If you can’t get them to believe and understand your concept in under 3 minutes, you can almost guarantee your customers won’t either.
If you’re using presentation slides, the same goes here. Keep your number of slides to a minimum and use them to highlight key points. At no point should you be reading off them like a book!
It’s a nerve racking experience. Don’t forget to breathe. We know you have passion and a will to succeed, but taking deep breathes will help control your heart. With this in check, you can deliver your information without the babble that goes with nerves.
When the questions start the same process applies. Taking deep breathes not only helps you manage the barrage of aggressive comments but also provides you valuable time to think and win investors over with your response and calm head under pressure. Don’t forget, they will often do it just to test you as much as your product.
Even if they don’t believe in your product, investors may believe in you. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality. It’s more engaging and helps dragons see the person behind the business. Doing so could be the difference between success and failure. As good as your product is, if they feel they couldn’t work with you, you may as well pack your bags and go now.
While the bulk of presentations are formal and rigid in structure, pitches tend to have more fluidity. This in turn allows you to break away from the facts and present your ideas in a more compelling manner.
A great example of this comes from Johnny Georges, founder of Tree TeePee, who appeared on the American show; Shark Tank.
Research shows that the longer we hold or touch an object – the more ownership we feel we have of it (and the more we want it). This then grows, as the more we feel we own something, the higher the value we place on it. All proving that visual presentations and physical interaction have a positive psychological impact on your audience.
If you still can’t keep away from the old fashioned slides, why not prepare a second version of your presentation. This can be sent on later to provide key facts and information as a reminder to any potential investors.
Don’t beg. Begging for investment shows desperation. If you really believe in your business, you know you’ll be able to get money elsewhere so don’t sell yourself short. Confidence in these situations can be the difference so believe in yourself.
You go in pitching for a certain value but have a back-up in mind. Chances are there will be negotiations ahead. If you have a bottom-line price you’ll know exactly where you stand and won’t be led into any rash decisions.
Knowing what you know is great but you don’t know what you don’t know. Whether you believe it or not, don’t be the smartest person in the room. As well as money, investors have a wealth of resources, contacts and knowledge. Knowing your weaknesses can be more valuable than your strengths as you build a team to take care of all aspects.