I spent most of my first day at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) listening to press conferences, mostly from big companies. Some, like Dish, made a big splash with an LED drum parade followed by multiple marching kangaroos. The Dish CEO, Joseph P. Clayton, marched on stage with a drum and was pretty entertaining. And then the presentations started. Dish, though, kept a bit of show throughout,, but they still had too many bullets that distracted from the story. Panasonic pretty much just listed their announcements with no pomp and even less circumstance. Some of the best (and one of the worst) presentations came from the ShowStoppers press conference, which was essentially a pitch contest. Even big companies are essentially pitching to investors every time they present, and they need to remember that.
Here are ten tips for presenting to investors that every start-up needs to take to heart:
- If your presenter doesn’t know his or her topic, and must read from notes, then get another presenter, even if the presenter being replaced is a founder. As the old adage goes, “you only get one first impression.”
- Tell a story. Every marketing person needs to understand that a good presentation tells a story, and the intent of that story is to get the people listening to want to invest. Take a class in storytelling (I teach these, BTW).
- Less bullets, more graphics. If you use bullets, you have to refer to them. If you use a rich graphic, you can talk about all kinds of things. You can dance to a graphic, but not to bullets.
- If you use a celebrity, let the celebrity do something interesting that justifies bring him or her out.
- Go through the presentation and eliminate all acronyms. When presenting to a general audience, don’t assume the audience is an insider on your topic.
- A press conference is an experience. Design it so that people in the audience understand what you intended and why they should care.
- If you know a magic trick, work it in.
- Demo, demo, demo. Just do it, don’t explain it. Make people get it by you doing your thing — selling LED light bulbs control by an app, then turn one on.
- Include the answers to boring questions, like financials and market state, so the investors can ask deeper, more probing queries.
- Don’t just slide the team, have the team stand-up, wave and smile. People like to see the people they may be working with.