You’ve been preparing for the presentation for weeks. You’ve practiced it over and over and know every planned word by heart. You know that your presentation will knock them out of the water. The only problem is, because you’re focused on the presentation, you’ve already screwed up. Let’s get something that sounds obvious out of the way: Investors aren’t there for the presentation. They’re there to find out what you do and whether or not you have a chance of succeeding. They’re there to understand your company and the promise it holds. There are many reasons why it makes sense to center your efforts around knowing your subject inside and out, as opposed to having a particular presentation memorized. Sure, you need to have a basic outline to present, but focusing on just the presentation is a good way to slack off on the stuff that really matters.
See, one of the biggest mistakes that many first-time startup founders make is thinking that they know more than they really do about their own company. Sure, you’ve got the information about the particular industry you’re getting into, but do you know the microeconomics of your proposed business? Do you know how much it will cost to acquire a new client? Do you know how long they last? Do you know your churn rate?
Do you know all of this by heart?
There will always be questions you don’t know, the goal is to limit these. You never want to be in the position where someone asks a question about your core business model and you come up blank. More than simply memorizing a presentation, it’s important to really understand every inch of your own model so that when one of these questions comes up, you’ll be prepared.
According to Naval Ravikant of Venture Hacks, you should be able to walk up to a plain whiteboard and deliver a full presentation. Powerpoint can be a handy tool to keep the investors’ attention, but if you can’t deliver a full presentation that is both engaging and comprehensible without it, then you don’t know your subject well enough. So be honest now, if your Powerpoint disappeared one minute before the presentation, would you be okay?
If the answer is anything but a resounding “yes,” then you need to go back to the basics. Sit down with your team and really dissect your business plan. Go over every specific until it’s so far entrenched that you’re literally presenting in your sleep. You’ll give a better presentation, you’ll be prepared for any question and you’ll be better equipped to handle it when something goes wrong.
And something will go wrong.
The added bonus of all this preparation is that, by the time you finally step up in front of a group of investors, you’ll be confident. You’ll be confident enough to answer any question, confident enough for any mistake.