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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Presentation Dynamics

During your tenure as the CEO, you will give presentations extensively.   Presentations are given to potential partners, funding sources, investors, conferences, and most anyone that will listen.  The objective is always to increase value.  You may even have different presentations depending on the listener group and the lengths will vary depending on time requirements.  At some point, public speaking becomes easier and the clarity of your style will improve because of so much practice.
When presenting for business purposes you will likely continue to improve the presentation based on responses and feedback from listeners of prior presentations.  This is rather common and it does help improve the style and clarity.  You will learn to match the time commitments of your listeners and to skip pieces as needed to adjust for changes in scheduling.  Again, this is all great, but there is one thing that can happen over time that you will not notice until you get far enough along in the process.  No one is investing and you are not getting business partnerships.  OUCH! 
Sometimes the presentation can be fantastic, but the listeners see through to the content.  Your pitches likely cover all the key topics:  technology, management, development, and making money.  What the listener is seeing is your data and their gut interpretation.  Perhaps the company it is too early, not in the right space, there is too much risk, the management is not attractive, the listener has no interest in the product area, and other turnoffs.  These are not your fault and most likely changing the presentation will not change the outcomes.
One thing that may help is to make an effort to qualify the audience a bit before going to the meeting.  Make sure those financial investors are interested in your space and have money.  You will be amazed how many will listen but have no funds to invest, or limit their investments to 4 in 1000 or something like that.  You may decide to present, but at least you can set your expectations prior to the meeting.  This can be the same for partnerships.  Companies are always meeting with multiple potential new partners. They are seeking the latest and greatest technology that also fits with their projected pipeline.  Try to determine if your NewCo is a fit and what stage of development the companies will consider a partnership.
The key is to set your expectations properly and to understand the real needs of your audience.  You may even adjust your slides to help fit the group dynamics in order to help them see the fit.  You are selling the business prospects and the management team in your pitch.  As you develop the company, the slides will reflect a greater more substantial data set documenting the company’s development.  In time, this will carry weight in helping get a positive decision from the other side.  However, simply changing the slides may not be enough to capture that investment or deal.  It may be the repeated interactions help the other side recognize you are real and the data is spectacular. 
In short, keep improving your business and do not give up.  Your pitch to capture partners or financing may take multiple attempts with substantial business progress over time to attract interest.  Maybe it will take a demonstration or a proof of concept study.  Data and progress goes a long way to attractiveness to others.