Photo: so.salem via Flickr
The slide deck that you show to VCs in your meetings should do more than address the requisite topics. Your presentation should tell a story that helps investors understand why this is an attractive opportunity.There are a few reasons why creating a narrative through your slides is important.
First, people (investors included) like stories – they’re more engaging than a string of seemingly unrelated facts. When done well, stories incorporate elements of suspense, insight and even a climax. These rhetorical tools can be incorporated into the presentation to make the materials more exciting and engaging. This is very important as conjuring an emotional response (even if a subtle one) in your audience can help them become more engaged with your venture.
Second, when asked about your venture over cocktails you probably already explain the opportunity in a narrative format – it’s more natural. In my experience, when asked most entrepreneurs deliver compelling stories about their business in a conversational format. When they’re asked to deliver a set of business slides about the company, however, they lose their mojo. The excitement about the business is lost in facts and figures; the larger story is reduced to a collection of facts. Generally speaking, asking a founder to switch from a conversational overview of their company to a set of slides is like watching a right-handed pitcher start throwing lefty. It’s unnatural.
There’s good reason for this. Most entrepreneurs view a slide deck as a check list – a series of topics that they need to address in order to answer the most common investor questions. At its lowest level, this is what a presentation is supposed to do – answer key questions about the business. Unfortunately this throws off entrepreneur as on the surface, checklists and narratives mix about as well as oil and water. Stories have rhythm, while checklists drone on to the dry ticking of metronome.
As a result, most entrepreneurs assume that they should simply deliver the dry checklist and assume that the business fundamentals will speak for themselves (and they often do). There is an opportunity to go beyond the checklist and give a presentation a heartbeat. This is by creating a narrative. The narrative comes from the connective tissue that is carefully inserted between the items on the investor presentation checklist. Either through additional slides, or more commonly, taglines, the narrative weaves the generic building blocks of an investor presentation into a story.
It’s worth noting that in some cases the story comes to life throughout the entire presentation and in other situations the narrative sits in the first half of the presentation and the remaining items of the checklist come after the narrative in the form of support (completing the checklist).
Weaving a narrative into your presentation is of critical importance. It will bring your story to life, allow you to illustrate the enthusiasm that you have for your company and help to captivate investors.
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