Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"It sounded a little pitchy to me"

I recently had the opportunity to walk one of the companies I'm mentoring through the development of "the pitch" presentation.  Here are some things to think about:

10/20/30
Embrace this:  10 slides, 20 minutes, nothing less than 30 pt font size.  Google this for many opinions about the strength of this rule of thumb.  Additional bonus: if you limit yourself to font sizes of at least 30 point, you can avoid dreadful bullet point hell.
Reading is bad.
Please, do not read from your slides.  This makes your audience feel dumb, and makes you look silly.  Don't do it. The presentation is supposed to be focused on you and your business, and not on your prowess at PowerPoint or your reading ability.  If you start reading, your audience will talk about you with other attendees on their BlackBerrys.  Practice your presentation, and let the slides support what you say.
Reading is good.
What if you've got a lot to say? Chances are, you do have a lot to say ... about your product.  But this presentation is about selling your business, not your product.   Create a really great one-page (two-sided) handout, make it as dense, literate and clarifying as you can, and hand it out. Edward Tufte would say do this first; your mileage may vary.
A baker's dozen
Which 10 slides then?  In reality, it's more like 13.  Do this on a white board:
♦ Draw 13 boxes... three on one row, four on the next row, five on the next row, and then one at the bottom.
♦ Label the boxes, from top to bottom like this:  title, team, overview, problem, solution, value, secrets, competitive advantage, market strategy, business model, projections, requirements, closer
If you're following along, then your whiteboard ought to look something like this:

titleteamoverview
problemsolutionvaluesecrets
competitive advantagemarket strategybusiness modelprojectionsrequirements
closer
There's your pitch presentation structure. 
The Big Three
It's no accident that three of the boxes above are highlighted.  These are the big three, the slides that matter most to investors.  Nail these three, and you're golden.  Fail on these three, and no matter how cool your technology, you're sunk.

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