Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sorry, another commentary on pitch advice!

Start Up Pitch Advice - So Much to Say, So Little Time

Skyler Fernandes, a VC at Centripetal Capital Partners and an Angel through One Match Ventures, posted a really useful compilation of pitch advice on slideshare -  aimed at entrepreneurs presenting to Angels and VCs. I think it's pretty good: "Best Startup Pitch Deck"

Three comments from me. I hope they make sense. (Let me know if they don't!)

1. Sadly it's true, there is no right answer: Skyler starts off with a vital point ... that there are as many perspectives on what makes a good pitch as there are pitch coaches, investors etc. ie there is no one "right answer"! But I agree that there are commonly agreed key points to make than you can and should get in there.

2. Presentations for reading and actually presenting are not the same thing: In my view Skyler's own presentation is designed to be read, it is not designed to be presented face to face. So it in terms of its own format it is not a guide on to how to construct a presentation ie don't copy this layout if you are going to talk to it! 

This is a key distinction to my mind and means that folks need to think about two deck formats - one to send to people for them to read (which can accomodate more text, charts, data) and one that you actually SPEAK to esp. in a group meeting context. 

If you are standing up and speaking to a presentation on a screen then the conceptual and substantive content should be pretty much the same. BUT there should be MUCH stuff less on the screen than you would put in a reading first version. Rather, the screen is a way of engaging the audience at a more emotional level and supporting what matters most at that point in time - the person speaking aka YOU. So the content must be more visual with limited high impact content. 

Another slideshare I like captures this idea and takes on the issue of "verbal vomit" amongst other things! 
Take a look at: You Suck at PowerPoint

3. The end goal is getting another meeting (and more): I agree that the objective of your presentation should self evidently be to get you ... to the next meeting. But I would qualify that with two observations. 

First investing is more emotional than most people either realize or even want to believe. As Kathleen Utecht from Comcast Venture noted at the recent About Astia event in New York, getting to that next stage requires the investor to cross a number of psychological barriers - namely that they "believe" in you and "trust" you. That doesn't come from the content of the slides but the energy and conviction of your delivery, so much more intangible. 

Second yes, your aim is to get the next meeting. You might or you might not, but either way you can get more out of it. In my view you should always aim to get feedback, so you can learn and improve for the next time. Also treat the pitch like a business development meeting - are there connections or ideas that you can glean that make the meeting more value added from a commercial view point? (In my experience this is especially true when presenting to a large angel group. In aggregate they might not vote to continue to pursue an investment but individuals in the meeting might well have great leads for you they might well be willing to share. And of course angels in a group meeting that engage positively could well freelance as individual investors outside the group too.)

Skyler is @JSkyFernandes