YES! That’s six minutes and no slides.
You will have to learn the skills of a stand-up comedian to do this one and make it work i.e. you need to sell simple ideas that make the audience’s imagination jump into action.
This is a great exercise – if challenging at first – the reason is simple you have to focus on key pieces of simple information delivered well. No waffle, no pictures, no BS – just ‘short-sharp-shock’.
Use the old A-I-D-A (a 1950s acronym for Attention/Interest/Desire/Action) system to build to a conclusion. Kick off with an attention getting statement – preferably exciting news about a win of some sort to show you are an exciting prospect and they should listen.
A = Get attention right from the start of the presentation – do it with enthusiasm and excitement!
I = Build on this great start with why you and your Company are worth hearing about.
D = Build in some sweeteners that make an investment with you well worth the audience’s while to talk more with you BUT only tease them, don’t tell all yet.
A = Ask for some action, in other words close the pitch with…to learn more how we can make money together come and speak to me after this pitch…make them want to do it.
Things you should remember for any presentation are:
B = Breathe, yes, breathe. Calm your nerves by breathing slowly and forcing the rate down. Take a few deep breaths before getting up to pitch.
S = Stance. Again, its important to stand correctly. Most people, including me when I started, try leaning on things or folding their arms or moving from leg to leg. Don’t do it. Practise keeping you lower body face on to the audience and static, using your upper body to gesticulate
E = Eyes. Once you are standing in front of everyone, take a cool, slow scan of the room and try to look at the audience ‘row by row’. This shows confidence and it gives you a second to relax and get ready.
SM = Now smile at the audience and try to empathise with them. Again this helps you relax and smiling will actually improve your state.
H = Hug. Or better group hug, this means open your arms and greet the audience. You don’t fold them shut like a hug but just hold them open as if presenting to 1000 people for a second.
E = Energy, now launch into your pitch with your welcome statement with energy, enthusiasm and excitement. Your passion must come across right away to help engage the audience and get their ATTENTION!
Things to also make the presentation go smoother. Take a glass of water up with you, always. This is a great way to think about answers to questions or to give you a ‘breather’ between slides as well as soothe that dry mouth syndrome. Try some facial exercises to beat the ‘lock jaw’ that afflicts many of us – the simplest is the say AEIOU while stretching the facial muscles as much as possible. Also, you can use techniques to get you ‘charged up’ (or in state) before you go up on stage. You can do this in your head with positive affirmations (I AM a great presenter and I have a fantastic opportunity for my audience – if you believe it then it will come across when you speak) or combine it with moving your body. I like to find a quiet place and rev myself up with a ‘yes, yes, I am a presentation monster’ while punching the air a bit but this may not be your style! Anything that gets your body moving as well as your mind will help.
So what about the content?
Well it’s simple really, you are SELLING to Investors – remember Investors not Customers!
My advice is 10 key topics that include exciting statements that fire the imagination and allow you to empathise with your audience – Angels are usually 50+, mostly men, usually not a specialist in your space and they have ‘heard it all’ before.
I personally use old fashioned 4×6 cards to note these key topics on and keep these in my hand during the presentation as an aid memoir – with the key words in big letters (with my own little symbols and notes to remind me about key presentation technique).
What are the key things that motivate Investors?
Angel investors are different to any other type of investor and need to be sold to accordingly. Most say that they invest under strict criteria of this or that BUT usually they actually end up investing in people they like and think they can help.
So remember this – this pitch is about selling YOU, you are the stand up comedian for a few minutes – you need to entertain, excite and persuade.
Think about this for a minute – most of the books you have read or the way you may have been taught to present is around style and content not performance art!
BUT this is the key skill – you have just a few minutes to get people from BORED to I MUST speak to this person to learn more – without any help from PowerPoint.
It’s all about you and them.
So 50% of your preparation needs to be about mentally preparing yourself to relax, breathe, speak clearly, look people in the eyes, use your hands and face with passion (like an Italian) to communicate effectively. Put yourself in their shoes, what would get you to sit up in your chair, hanging on every word?
The other 50% is getting the key data to them in a fast but effective fashion.
What’s the key data to get across?
For Angel investors it is critical you use the KISS principle (Keep/It/Simple/Stupid) – remove as much jargon and industry speak as you can. Get across a few simple concepts. Remember that they are unlikely to recall very much after the pitch, your last slide wants 3 things on it you want them to remember-only three.
If you can help people visualise what you do then DO IT. So many people have the opportunity to take their widget up to show but never do – if you have something that can be touched or handed around, take it and use it, it’s way better than a picture in a slide. If you are in retail what about a mock-up of your shop. If you have a product it’s easy. If it’s a service, what about a board with Customer satisfaction quotes on it etc.
You will be much more convincing if you can get INTO the minds of your Angels and 80% of people are visually biased so try to go beyond painting a word-based mental picture if you can. If you can’t then use the power of words and the imagination to get your story across – in many ways the imagination is way more powerful in any event but it requires you to be more creative with your language and thinking.
Most Angels complain about the fact that they get to the middle/end of a pitch without really knowing what the Company does (or not understanding). Make an effort to make what you do as simple and as possible (We make widgets that save/make our customers x or y time/money/effort etc) – test it on friends in the same demographics as your investor audience and see if they ‘get it’ in 10 seconds – if not do it again.
Also, you need to work in a bit of magic into the description – not just ‘we make software’ but ‘we make the only software that makes our clients 20% more effective which is worth 5x the cost of the software – a real motivation to buy’. You get the idea.
So let’s say they like you and your passion – now what else makes them get their hands in their pockets and give you money.
The meat of the presentation.
While they probably won’t admit it a high return on investment with the minimum risk is a key motivator to the Angel crowd. This means 8-10x their investment back within 3 years. And preferably an investee company with some track record, sales, customers, released products, a strong team and backers.
TEN Ideas for key topics:
- INTRO= A lead statement about what you do that is clear – delivered to grab attention.
- ABOUT YOU= A few bullet points about you and your background. Ones that are relevant and entertaining and re-inforce why you are a great person to invest in. Past successes, expertise, experience, qualifications – all short and to the point.
- COMPANY= Expand the you statements into the business with key facts about when formed, how much raised, key customers/wins/news, patents etc
- VALUE PROPOSITION= What you offer Customers that make them buy from you. Something compelling and that motivates action from clients.
- MARKET= Is it BIG, how much is it worth, can you prove the size. How much will you capture of the market. How will you do this, it has to be believable, anyone who guesses or says ‘we only need 1% of this market to make a fortune’ will not be taken seriously.
- HOW YOU MAKE MONEY= Explain simply how you extract money from clients, try to ensure you have an ongoing revenue stream. Break it down so they can see that you have a long term business opportunity.
- YOUR TEAM= Make your case again, it’s you remember! Also name names if you have any and make clear your team have the skills in depth needed for the job. If you don’t but need help in this area then say so. How many years experience does each person have, what crucial qualifications etc
- WHATS THE MONEY FOR= What will you spend the investment on. The more sales and growth focussed the better. It should never been seen to be for your salary and car! Nor should it be for unnecessary things – it should be all about creating value.
- CUSTOMERS= Illustrate what great names you have on your books, or that you are negotiating with. Never make these up as they will be noted and you will have to prove all of this later. People like to hear names they recognise, even if these clients are only a small part of your business.
- WHY INVEST = This should always be last. This is what they will recall. Keep it to key points and include all your strengths such as experienced team, existing customers, profitable, growing, award winning products/service, patents, big market etc. Finish on my three ‘holy grail’ points if you can = 10x Return on investment; EIS compliant/tax efficient investment; Real exit opportunity in three years. The last three points show that the investment is exciting, they can use tax benefits and that you will actually sell the business to give them their returns in a timely fashion. They will remember these points!
Others to consider that may be relevant are: intellectual property, machinery, stock, property, competition, product details, service details or other specific info for your situation. Just keep it brief and to the point.
Finally finish up your pitch with a ‘call to action‘ – Have a final blast of enthusiasm and ask them all to come and see you to learn more. Don’t say you ‘hope’ they will come and see you, tell them it’s worth their while so do it in a polite but confident way!
If you don’t know about the Government EIS scheme then learn right now. Find out from the web or your Accountant as it’s crucial to any Angel investment.
NOTE: Angels much prefer to invest either after or with others, they like the benefits of less work for them using the previous investors due diligence data along with the ‘comfort’ factor that they are not alone. Try to use this to your advantage if you have any investors already. This could be added to your why invest slide.
After you have your pitch ready take a look at the article “Tough angel questions and how to answer them” to prepare yourself for the questions after you finish.
Remember you don’t have any slides to crib from for figures and projections to take this info up with you. If you are like me you will never remember every bit of financial data so have this to hand in case you get asked the question. The same goes for any other info you will need to answer questions.
I hope I don’t need to remind you to practise and time the pitch to match the needs of your event/venue. If I were you I would try to make it 6-8 mins max. Even if you have a longer slot, this allows more time for questions and answers or more audience interaction or a demo etc. If not you will stand out by finishing in a punchy style and under the time. Everyone will appreciate this as these events can be arduous for all involved and getting the pitches done faster never hurts.
Also, try and ensure that you work the room after the event, if possible take other team members to go round and get business cards from everyone allowing you to focus on those that want to know more right away. If you are on your own ask the event organiser for a list of attendees and emails to follow up if you can. Have a pile of Company overview documents that are investor focused available for people to grab too, sometimes Angels are shy or in a hurry and just want info to look at later.
Always follow up on all leads within 24 hours with a reminder of your company and try to close an investor visit ASAP to start the process of negotiations. You will be amazed how many investees don’t even bother to chase up leads from Angel events.
I am sorry this piece isn’t as brief as your final presentation will be – but it’s all about preparation as you well know!
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