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Grab a VC’s Attention…
While you’ve got it!

By now you're probably thinking that you are pretty good at giving presentations. I thought I was. I mean after all, I had spent the past 15 years in high-tech marketing, where creating PowerPoint presentations in 15 minutes flat is a way of life. Yessiree, I thought I was a pretty decent presenter - until I took the Mandel Communications Effective Presentation Skills workshop last June. But more about that later.

It was proven to me that brushing up on presentation skills is not unlike brushing up on skiing skills. No matter how good you are, no matter how many times you've done it... chances are you could be even better. And when the time comes for you to present your business opportunity to a venture capitalist, you really want to be better.

Here are the top 12 things that a venture capitalist is looking for in your presentation, (as told to me by a venture capitalist who has witnessed his share of "thumbs up, and down" presentations):

1. Be clear, concise and succinct. No one wants to hear someone blather on about a subject. It makes you look as though you are not practiced, articulate about your business or considerate of your audience’s time.

2. Venture capitalists think in terms of bullet points. (You can easily imagine this as you catch them looking at their watches before you are even 5 minutes into your presentation). So try to place the most important information/message that you want them to retain in bullet point fashion.

3. You must have a presentation. Apparently it happens from time to time that an entrepreneur will walk into a VC meeting with a copy of their business plan and try to talk from that. Unless you've done this a lot and have successfully raised millions of dollars with this style, don't do it.

4. Like the Executive Summary to your business plan, your presentation must clearly communicate:

Product or Service
Business Objective
Target Market
Market Size and Opportunity
Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Management Team
What You Will Need to Succeed

5. Don't be inhibited when asking for what you will need from a venture capitalist to move your company forward. Venture capitalists can offer a great deal of help and guidance in finance and management. It is important that you have a realistic perspective of your strengths and weaknesses and are willing to ask for help.

6. Demos of your product/services are good. Make sure that your demo paints a picture of how a customer will use your product. This will help the VC visualize your product’s application in the market, and confirms your knowledge of the target market. Don't get lost in the 'gee-whiz' technology. Stay focused on the application and end benefit to your product. The demo's objective is to illustrate who, how and why a customer will use your product. Finally, make sure the demo works well. Practice incorporating it into your presentation a lot.

7. Present a complete picture of your market opportunity. Nothing will excite a VC audience more than substantiating why a large market will demand your product or service.

8. Typically, investors expect the 'marketing type' person to present your business opportunity. If you are a 'techie', dispel the myth that you can't be passionate, persuasive and entirely familiar with your target market.

9. Investors love to work with entrepreneurs because they are excited about their product, passionate about meeting a customer need and talented visionaries. Don't hold back when presenting. Enthusiasm is contagious.

10. You are typically granted 60 minutes in your initial presentation meeting. Keep your presentation to 20 - 30 minutes allowing plenty of time for Q & A. Also remember to use the 1-Slide-Per-2-Minute rule.

11. Always be yourself and don't force a match. Wait for the investor that you 'click with'. If the chemistry is there, you will know it, if it's not, move on to the next investor.

12. With a great idea and well thought out presentation, you’ll never appear nervous. Passion can quickly replace nervousness and is easily recognized. Practice in front of an audience - (make sure it’s of the human variety).

Some individuals are just 'naturals' at presenting. Other individuals would rather have a root canal performed on them. No matter what your level of expertise, chances are you can benefit from brushing up on this valuable skill and I strongly recommend Mandel Communications as a source for training. (mandelcom.com)

In Mandel's Effective Presentation Skills two-day workshop, you'll learn how to better deliver, plan, use visuals, address Q & A and develop great energy and composure. (And get plenty of laughs from seeing yourself on video before an audience of complete strangers). Mandel Communications also offers individual coaching, advanced skill development and has been training noted professionals in the technology industry for many successful years. You’ve got everything to gain by taking this workshop.

Your initial presentation to an investor is a critical step that allows the investor to gain a first impression of you and your ability to articulate your business opportunity. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage an investor in what may be your favorite life’s work.

By: Denise A. Ryan, BluMarble Strategic Marketing



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