Five slides for an investor presentation

How to construct an investor presentation

I have sat through or reviewed, hundreds of presentations, most of them were pitching for a sale, or funding. I’ve done a few myself. Out of that comes a set of guidelines.

Notice, these are not rules. You can break guidelines when you want to - but you need a good reason to do so.

For the first part of the process, we need to take a step back from the actual presentation. If you have what you consider to be an investor ready company or idea, this bit should be really quick.

Probably best to write this down on one piece of paper.

First, what’s the product? This should be one simple pithy sentence.
If not then fix that now.

Next, who are your customers? Define that very closely. Investors are very wary of any company who cast the net too wide. World domination might come later but to start you need to have a narrowly focused customer set in mind.

What is the pain your customers currently suffer which you intend to cure? Again, a succinct one sentence answer.

From that follows the next question - what are your prospects doing now instead of your solution, and what will make them switch to you?

As a result of these statements, how will you make money from the transaction?

Finally, you have a clear product offering with a real reason customers will flock to your door. Now add in your Go-To-Market strategy. There’s no point in building the world’s best business if no one will get to hear about your service.

(I am indebted to Investor and Strategy guru Francis Wyburd for most of the above)

This brief summary can be crafted into a leave behind document. Thereby freeing your actual presentation to be just that - a presentation not a brochure.

You might be forgiven in thinking that the result of following the steps above gives you all the information for an investor presentation; just chuck it on the slides and you’re done.

I’d advise you not to.

Building the Presentation

Investors are waiting to say “no”. That’s the easy answer.

The most common fallacy is that an investor wants to hear everything about your investment.

They do - eventually. But you need to employ a little storytelling to draw them in.

There are a number of gates through which your message must pass before an investor is ready to hear the detail. The purpose of your presentation is to hurdle those gates and start a dialogue.

No investor opens their chequebook after a presentation, the presentation opens the door to a conversation - usually quite a forensic one - but unless you get that door open it’s always the same answer: no.

Only five slides are needed to make any investor presentation.

Let’s invent an - admittedly ridiculous -  fictitious example and I’ll talk you through it.

Slide One: Proposition

This does not explain everything. It’s a tease.

This slide sits on the screen before you start to speak.

When you start to speak, address Slide Two: Target Customers

Most investor pitches overstate the potential customers for a product or service. Even a product which is used by “everybody” is not targeted that way. It’s not bought by everybody.

However, the difference with this fictitious product is that it is delivered on subscription, costs less, supports the local church, and a tree is planted in Africa for every pack sold.

Slide Three: What problem does your target market have which you aim to solve?

As freeholders (ie detached houses) have more storage and are more likely to have someone at home for deliveries these would be the most profitable first customers to serve.

(The ecological aspects and support for the local church are just feel good factors which don’t affect the initial pain)

Now might be a good time to explain what the customers currently do and why they will change - but there’s no need to put that on the slide.

You should also explain your revenue model - but there’s no need to put that on the slide either.

Slide Four: Team.

If our mythical company includes senior team members who are experts in paper production (notoriously damaging ecologically), home delivery and charitable rigour, investors will believe you are capable of delivering your plan.

Slide Five: What we will do with the money

Demonstrate that if investors do invest you know what you need to do next in the evolution of the business.

Quite a lot of businesses get through the earlier gates and then fail this test.

Finally, sort of slide six (of five), put the first slide back up whilst you take questions.

By the end of your presentation the audience will come back to this slide with a greater understanding of all its meaning. It will sit there through following discussions providing an appropriate backdrop.

Do not put up a slide which says “Thank you” or “Questions”.

Follow this template and the investors will come to the subsequent conversation with a more open mind, believing you have a clear business which you understand and can deliver.

The slides are deliberately headlines. The point of a presentation is for them to hear you speak, not watch you read slide after slide.

If you want to have a leave-behind deck then - please - create that separately using the sheet we prepared at the beginning.

This is a format which bears an enormous amount of adapting.

Richard Tierney is the author of The Introverted Presenter


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