How to significantly improve the presentation of your project

    In this material, we decided to combine interesting tips, ideas, reasoning and conclusions that come to those who work in the field of venture business, helps startups to prepare presentations, evaluates pitches and invests in projects.

    When and why is a presentation needed?

    Many representatives of the venture capital ecosystem emphasize: it is necessary to attract venture capital only when it is really necessary (we ourselves talked about it - venture investments received only because “it is accepted” turn into a very expensive loan). Therefore, before creating a presentation and presentation, think about what your real goals are. Do you need financing? Or can your team develop without him?

    In the latter approach, by the way, there is nothing to worry about - even large venture capital funds like the American Sequoia Capital do not forget to mention once again in their blogon the benefits of development from domestic resources. However, even if you decide to grow on your own, do not miss the opportunity to speak to an interested audience: the purpose of such a presentation may not be financing, but, for example, reaching a partnership agreement with any of the investors or experts (of course, this goal should be indicated in your speech as as clearly as if you were aiming for cash support).

    If you still need investments, try to soberly assess your chances. For example, the SketchDeck team recommends using the following list “for self- testing of readiness to receive investments” - in order to get financing at the sowing stage, you should have:

    • a real and significant problem that you are ready to solve;
    • in fact, the solution to the problem and its prototype;
    • Confirmation that your solution has an audience of users;
    • the main “core” of the team: people working on the project in full-time mode;
    • considerations about how your project will scale.


    We have already published material about what a startup, aimed at venture capital investments, can (and, according to many, should) consist of. Guy Kawasaki on his blog offers an even more concise presentation scheme : according to him, it is universal and can be useful in any situations when you need to come to some kind of agreement (though Kawasaki emphasizes that it takes about 20 minutes to spend on such a presentation, but no more).

    We add some more statistics to these materials:

    Usually it is said that presentations for attracting investments in Round A are noticeably longer than similar materials from the teams at the seeding stage. SketchDeck analyzed200 startup presentations and calculated that the difference between presentations at different stages of a startup’s life cycle is not so much in volume as in content. Slides of companies at the pre-sowing stage contain about 3 statistical facts about the activities of the company (it is quite logical: the company takes the first steps in business). At the sowing stage, this amount increases 3 times, at the stage of attracting financing in round A - another 3 or more times: the presentation may contain up to 30-odd references to various indicators of the company’s activity.

    At the same time, the teams from the YCombinator set pay more attention to the graphical representation of the data - in their presentations there are 20% more statistics and diagrams and less “bare” text. This approach is becoming increasingly popular: that is what Garr Reynolds means whenadvises to reduce the amount of text within the slide (yes, the slide design examples in its material are a bit outdated, but the general approaches to creating presentations have remained the same now).

    Despite the growing popularity of services for preparing colorful slides, the first presentations of many successful projects indicate that the main thing in the pitch is not so much graphic material as the presentation itself. Much of these presentation materials can hardly be called ideal - starting with the choice of typography (because of which the text of the slide sometimes becomes unreadable) and ending with a large number of comments and tables that can hardly be figured out without the help of the presenter.

    Nevertheless, studying such presentations can be useful - try to evaluate them, find their strengths and weaknesses, use this knowledge to compose your own slides - as it turns out, Airbnb or Square did not need the help of outstanding graphic designers to receive funding and appreciation from the venture community. . And if you still went too far with the effects in PowerPoint, re-read the “ Really Bad Presentation ” by Seth Godin - for more than 10 years from the moment of writing this mini-book has not lost its relevance.

    Pitch Actually

    One of the most popular questions regarding oral presentations: where to start the presentation, what to talk about at the very beginning, how to attract the attention of the audience? Based on the analysis of startup presentations, SketchDeck concluded that the “opening” presentation is usually the “Problem” and “Justification of the project value” blocks:

    Nevertheless, this approach is not the only one. An alternative is offered by Andy Raskin, who advises companies, funded by Andreesen Horowitz, TrueVentures, FirstRoundCapital, on strategic planning and communications. He cites future presenters as an example.Ilona Mask is a brilliant visionary and businessman, but far from the most eloquent speaker. Having examined the structure of Mask's presentations in detail, Raskin offers the following speech scheme (as in the case of Guy Kawasaki, this is a universal approach that allows you to add storytelling elements to any presentation):

    1. Designate the "enemy"
    2. Give the answer to the question: “Why now?”
    3. Show the promised land before explaining how you get there
    4. Identify the obstacles. Then explain how you will overcome them.
    5. Provide evidence that you are not just blowing the air

    Startup pitches also fit into this scheme - following it allows you to use the classic elements of dramatic narrative in your presentation : your story will contain both the enemy (problem) and the quest with obstacles (“what do we want to achieve?”, “How do we achieve the result? ”,“ What can hinder us, and how are we going to work with emerging difficulties? ”), And the goal for which all this is being conceived.

    Never start a pitch with a story about yourself, your team, product, or target market. Instead, start with what disturbs your client’s happiness. Draw an emotionally vivid picture of how imperfect the world around your customer is at the moment, what or who is to blame and why

    - Andy Ruskin

    By the way, Andy Raskin as an example for his circuit took a video from Mask’s performance on the topic of creating a Tesla Powerwall battery - compared to flying to Mars or a Tesla electric car, this is not the most exciting topic for the performance, but thanks to this approach, Mask managed to turn the “lecture about batteries ”in an exciting blockbuster with a dramatic ending.

    By the way, Raskin is not the only one who emphasizes the importance of building a “story” as part of the presentation. Sequoia Capital compares the pitch with James Bond movies: like a good spy movie, your story should have an interesting, “catchy” beginning - such as to keep the audience in suspense until the end of the session (i.e. presentation).

    One way or another, everyone agrees that any pitch should be rehearsed. And to rehearse not alone, but with a friend or mentor - someone who can give feedback to your presentation. The SketchDeck team advises, based on the results of the rehearsal, to ask the listener to describe your project and ask him the following questions:

    • What did he remember from your pitch?
    • What confuses him the most about your idea / what seems the least feasible?
    • What attracts him to your idea / what do you like most about the presentation?

    Answers to them can tell you a lot about your speech, its strengths and weaknesses.

    These are far from all ideas for creating high-quality presentations and pitches, however, they will also help to significantly improve the quality of slides and performances. Whatever your story, we hope that investors will appreciate your project, and the presentation will help achieve all your goals.

    PS You can improve the story of your project with the help of a presentation template developed by IIDF experts [ Slideshare , Keynote , PPT ].


    September 16, 2015 (Wednesday) at 18:30 at the IIDF Accelerator a workshop will be held with the ex-leader of LinguaLeo mobile and desktop products, the founder of AppCraft and metrics guru Ilya Krasinsky.

    Topic: “Product analytics: how to draw the right conclusions and focus on points of multiple growth.” Registration is free.

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