The purpose – persuade a partner to consider a deal
In partnering a technical opportunity (such as a biotech drug candidate or technology), we need to share complex information to help persuade a larger company to consider a deal (a license, research collaboration, an acquisition, etc). We want them to take an action, to take the next step toward a partnership. We often use a PowerPoint slide deck (or a PDF of it) as a “leave piece”, a communication aid that we leave behind after a talk with the partner.
I’d like to share with you my tips from working with biotech clients on the slide deck leave piece for partnering.
The challenge – a talk and a stand-alone leave piece
But a great challenge is that we often are using the same set of slides for two types of communication, both as the visuals in a talk and as a stand-alone “leave piece”, something left behind to represent us. Sometimes, the slides are shared with the potential partner before any talk, hopefully enticing the potential partner to later hear a presentation, in person or by WebEx or teleconference. Often after a talk, the slides are shared with the potential partner to communicate our messages without the verbal accompaniment, both to those that heard the talk, and to others who did not.
This means that we can’t follow some of the guidance for giving a great talk, where slides can be simple illustrations that offer little in the absence of the accompanying verbal communication. I love the idea of a presentation with no bullets, just illustrations of concepts. Perhaps we should have two versions, with a simpler format for the talk. We also could use a text document for the leave piece, and most of the tips work for that as well.
But here I will focus on slides as a stand-alone leave piece, where the slides alone must act as a leave piece to communicate for us, and help persuade a partner to move along the path to a deal.
The audience perspective
As in any persuasive communication, the most important thing is to think of the audience.
First, Fast, and Frequent: What’s in it for me?
Most audiences get bored very quickly if they don’t very quickly grasp “What’s in it for me?” A partnering presentation should begin with telling the audience why they should care. Telling them what is exciting and special about this opportunity must be at the beginning. They don’t care about the history or structure of the company or the founders if they don’t first get “what’s in it for me?” They want the implications for them.
Answer the key questions.
Answering their key questions can also be the first summary of “what’s in it for me?” and can make them want to follow the rest of your story. Answering the key questions upfront in simple bullets can also help the reader to know what to look for throughout the presentation.
What is special about this opportunity?
What is its potential?
What stage is it? (How soon do I get my rewards?)
What is the path to market?
They will also be thinking about the other 2 key questions. What are the risks, and when and how can they be addressed? And what do you want them to do? But I don’t think you have to set that up at the beginning, or necessarily even in the first presentation.
Make it memorable.
Often the audience is hearing or reading many presentations. We should do everything we can to make it easy for them to grasp what is exciting, and to remember the essence of your story. A slogan, an analogy, or a drawing that captures the essence simply can be a very powerful way to answer the key question of what is special about this opportunity. “Adding efficacy to antibodies”. “The Swiss Army Knife of drug delivery”.
Make it easy.
Make it easy for the reader to follow all your points. Make it possible to get most of what you want them to remember by skimming, not studying. Simplify whenever you can, deleting everything that is not needed to get the message. Guide them every step of the way.
· Put your contact information on the overall title slide.
· Each slide title should be the take-away message for what is on the slide. This lets a reader flip through, reading the titles and follow the story. This also helps you make 1 main point per slide.
· The most important thing should be at the top left of each slide.
· Avoid jargon and abbreviations, remembering that the readers may have different expertise and their own jargon.
· Bullets should be few and short.
· Use lots of white space, including extra spacing between bullets. (Format for the space after a paragraph on your master slide).
· The text should be one font and large enough. No one should ever say “I know this is too small for you to see…” ARGH!
· There should only be one or two figures per slide.
· Make data instantly interpretable. Use color to highlight the take-away. Add labels to lines in the same colors as the lines or bars on graphs to let the audience quickly see which line goes with which label.
· For photos or illustrations, make sure that everything important is pointed out with arrows or lassos, and a label. Leave out extras that may complicate the interpretation.
· Don’t mark it as confidential unless it really is. Some companies will return or reject anything that is marked confidential unless they have signed a confidentiality agreement.
· Make the file 5MB or below to make it easy to share with anyone. Before making a PDF, use the Compress Pictures in PowerPoint’s formatting.
Repeat what they should remember.
Answering the key questions at the beginning sets the stage. Then as data and arguments support each key point, summarize again for each chunk. This helps the reader to know where you are in the story. Conclude with a summary to remind them of all the reasons why they should be excited about your opportunity, all the answers to those key questions, now hopefully solidly established.
Linda M. Pullan, Ph.D. offers biotech and pharmaceutical companies consulting in all aspects of partnering through Pullan Consulting ( www.PullanConsulting.com ).
For several years, she has been providing companies help in identification, evaluation, valuation, negotiation and strategy for partnering in or out. She has an extensive deal sheet ranging from company acquisitions to Phase III compounds and from preclinical candidates to technologies. Dr. Pullan also served as President and CEO of Viriome, Inc. and on the board of directors of Paloma Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Linda has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and a B.S. in Chemistry. Linda has more than 20 years of drug industry experience, beginning in drug discovery at Monsanto/Searle/now Pfizer and ICI/Zeneca/now AstraZeneca. After doing licensing at what is now AstraZeneca, Dr. Pullan continued as head of oncology and hematology licensing for Amgen. She then joined Kosan Biosciences as VP of Business Development and experienced all the tasks of out-licensing and business development in a small company.
A note from Taffy Williams:
Linda Pullan is an excellent business development advisor and this is her second article on partnering for this blog. I get Linda’s newsletter which is extremely well written and shows her talent at analysis and understanding of the Biotech and Pharma industry. She has served in business development functions in large and small companies. When I asked her to help with the blog, she graciously accepted. I am grateful for her input and enlightenment. Thank you Linda!
You can follow Taffy Williams on Twitter by @twilli2861 and you can email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and my company website or photo website. You can also find me in the group Startup Group on Linkedin. The blog is now listed on Alltop®.