It never fails: you know your presentation by heart, you know the microeconomics of your company inside and out, you’ve timed everything to the last minute and the moment you start pitching the whole thing goes downhill. The crowd starts asking questions and you realize that what had been timed out to a ten minute presentation is now turning into a fourteen minute one. As you become aware that you’re cutting down on the back end of your presentation, you know that some of the greatest aspects of the business will not be able to be adequately explained. It’s unfortunately very easy for young entrepreneurs to be derailed during a pitch, and they only have themselves to blame. That’s why it’s important to keep one thing in mind while pitching:
That’s what you have to do. There will always be those impatient investors who ask questions before you’re ready, who interrupt with a quip about a previous business or anything else that might throw you off. When these potential investors begin to dig deep, often they’re asking questions that will be answered in later slides. By continuing the presentation you’ll be giving everyone the information they need to make an informed decision.
Attention spans are a finite commodity in pitches, particularly if there are a number of entrepreneurs with longer presentations. Human beings can only pay attention for so long and most ten minute pitches really push the limits on what angels can take in. So it’s clear you need to get the pitch out exactly as it was planned not only for the presentation, but for those that have to pay attention to it. But how do you keep the presentation going while still addressing the concerns?
We can all assume the answer isn’t to barrel past interruptions. If there are legitimate concerns you want to know what they are before you get any further in. But if it looks like your first slide is turning into a full blown Q&A, use the questions to transition into the next part of the presentation. You can assure investors that you’ll have time at the end to answer any leftover questions, but it’s important to keep the presentation rolling along at a healthy clip to ensure that it doesn’t run longer than their attention spans can handle.
Never forget: Lose their attention and you could lose the investment.