over the past Over two years, I’ve produced dozens of presentations for various companies in various stages of fundraising—from startup safe rounds to VC rounds and IPOs.
In this article, I will try to recap and share some of the lessons I learned.
Don’t Build One Presentation, Build Three
A story, like a relationship, is built in stages. It is important to match each step with the appropriate material. Generally, this means a brief introduction presentation for the introduction phase, a front presentation for the meeting, and a reading presentation to send as a follow-up presentation.
You could write a book on the subtleties and differences between these three presentations, but for now, here are some guidelines:
This is your keynote presentation, and it should be able to stand on its own without the speaker. You will send this presentation as a follow-up to your first important meeting with an investor. It is intended to facilitate deep and open discourse, and is therefore usually between 12 and 20 slides long.
Fundraising is largely the result of trust and speed.
This reading is an abridged and condensed version of the presentation. Its purpose is to get you a first appointment, so you don’t have to go into the specifics of the business and you can leave room for questions.
It is common to send six to eight slides and hit the basic “notes” of the pitch, such as what is the problem, what is the solution, who is the team, what is the difference and what is happening in the market.
A shorter, minimalist version of a reading presentation, designed to empower frontal presentation and focus on the speaker, not competing for attention. This presentation is often heavy on visuals and images and light on text. This presentation is not shared and the number of slides does not matter. Use as much as you can to get your point across.
The goal of the presentation is not to get you invested
Merely an amazing presentation will not reassure an investor. In practice, the best outcome a presentation can provide is a follow-up meeting with a sense of momentum and clarity about the company’s story, its current state, goals, and opportunities.