For most entrepreneurs, pitching to funders means preparing a deck (usually using Microsoft PowerPoint), and then using this presentation to convince investors that you have a company which is worth funding. Unfortunately, this is a completely broken model for multiple reasons.
Most people aren’t good at using Microsoft PowerPoint, and they end up putting their audience to sleep (google ” death by PowerPoint ” to learn how not to prepare a deck !). They either cram their slides with too much text; or read the slides, and this is painfully boring.
This is especially true if yours is the third or fourth presentation of the day. Because all these decks are so similar, the audience gets bored, and it’s very hard for them to remember yours!
So, here’s a little secret – the next time you pitch, don’t use a PowerPoint deck please – present without slides.
Now, I know this may sound crazy , and you may be a little scared about doing it, but just think of the messaging you’re giving. For one, you stand out from the rest of the competition, because you have the guts to stand up in front of the audience and talk to them directly, while looking them in the eye.
- Your presentation is much more powerful, because you can pay attention to their body language, and can sense if they are paying attention to you.
- You’re not distracted, because you are not looking at your slides – you are looking at them!
- You have their full attention because they can see you are completely focused on them.
Yes, this is a skill which needs to be learned, and it requires a lot of confidence and practice. It shows that you are a master of your content – after all, you don’t require slides to be able to talk about something which you’ve spent the last two years of your life on. Because you dream and breath about your startup, you should be able to talk about it fluently, even if someone woke you up at midnight, so why do you need a crutch to tell your story?
We all know that when you put off the lights and put on your slides, most people go to sleep , and they only get up after the slide presentation is over. Why do you want to reduce your chances of getting their attention by doing what everyone else does?
Ultimately, every presentation is a conversation, where you are telling the story of your startup, and inviting investors to join you in your journey. Now, you could be talking to a group of 100 people in a pitch competition, or you could be having a one on one conversation with a super-angel.
When you have a personal meeting, please don’t use your laptop! Why can’t you just have a straight-forward conversation? You didn’t need to use your laptop when dating your girlfriend, or wooing your wife, so why do you need one when wooing an investor?
Yes, there is a learning curve, and you need to practice all the time, till you master this skill. This will give you an unfair edge over all the other entrepreneurs you are competing with!
So keep the lights on, and talk to your audience – they want to hear your story. Engage with them emotionally, so they can see why you are so excited about what you are doing – this is the best way of getting them excited about your startup as well! You can always complete your pitch by showing a few slides at the end, with the relevant numbers ( for example, your financial statements).
So please – ditch your slides the next time you pitch!
[This post first appeared on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]