Fundraising presentations are hard work. You’re bombarded with challenging questions from investors, worn out by long days, and struggling to keep on top of your day job at the same time.
They’re also difficult to get right. There is a world of difference between knowing your business inside out and being able to structure a compelling and engaging argument around it.
Yet the relatively small time you spend in front of potential investors can bring lucrative returns. We’ve witnessed an immediate 10% increase in the value of a large quoted business after a great investor presentation.
Follow our survive and thrive guide for talking to investors and you can deliver more effective fundraising presentations immediately:
Too many good fundraising opportunities get lost in the delivery of boring, run-of-the-mill presentations. A great investor PowerPoint is not enough: you and your team are the presentation. So, forget PowerPoint and instead start with a lot of thinking and a blank sheet of paper. Ask yourself:
“It’s not supposed to be easy. If it was, then everyone would do it.”
Charles Dunstone, founder of Carphone Warehouse
The way you frame your investment story influences how a client views you. Investors need to understand why your opportunity is special, and what makes it stand out from the many other proposals they receive. What does your team do differently? What is your edge’? How will you consistently drive above average performance?
Successful fundraisers craft a compelling story – one that is interesting and entertaining – around their strategy, and they tell it with passion. So, what makes a compelling story? According to Forbes, the perfect selling story involves:
Investors tell us that the best fundraising presentations are the ones where they are taken on a journey with the presenters. You can achieve this by taking your narrative and laying out a map at the beginning of the presentation, explaining what you will be talking about and in what order: “I am going to talk about return on investment; I am going to introduce our team; and discuss our fund’s features and potential competitors,” for example.
A simple structure – with a clear beginning, middle and end – demonstrates your command of your own story. It also helps investors quickly grasp what you do and why it works. Successful fundraisers also limit their narrative to a maximum of three key messages. Highlighting the big themes that are going to have the highest impact will get everyone walking along the same path.
“The less people know, the more they yell,” says marketing guru Seth Godin. Investors find it frustrating when a fundraising presentation is a one-way broadcast that doesn’t provide them with the opportunity to ask questions. It’s more effective to have a conversation instead. Two-way communication allows for instant feedback, clarification and interaction. Successful fundraisers encourage engagement by asking – and welcoming – questions when talking to investors. Examples of questions you could ask investors include:
Asking questions will also help you to read the room, understanding when you need to move the fundraising presentation along. It also pays to be flexible with what you deliver. Every audience is different; use your intuition to spot when you need to spend extra time covering a specific area of your presentation, or when to move along faster.
A cohesive, well-prepared team is like a sponge cake straight out of the oven, where complementary ingredients have risen together to create something much greater than the sum of its parts.
If your team contradicts, interrupts or ignores one another, investors will doubt your credibility. Instead, your interactions should be positive and seamless. Everyone who attends the meeting needs to contribute something relevant – otherwise, why are they there? Planning beforehand who will answer which type of question helps to avoid any sensitivities.
Remember that nonverbal communication can be just as important as what is actually being said. Subtle tips for improving your body language during fundraising presentations:
Impressions are everything – investors’ perception of your team when you are with them is what matters. We’ve fixed many pitch disasters with extensive video coaching.
Investors get frustrated by presenters who avoid, second-guess or provide scrambled answers to simple questions. Remember, it is their job to ask questions and be critical. We recommend that you be as prepared for the Q&A session as you are for the fundraising presentation itself.
Before talking to investors, look at your presentation objectively: what are the areas you are most likely to be challenged on? Avoid being defensive or taking criticism personally. Prepare your answers and rehearse delivering them confidently together as a team – the last thing you want is your team being surprised by each other’s answers.
To prepare for your next investor Q&A more effectively, head straight to our blog post on How to Answer Tough Investor Questions.
Being in peak physical condition – mentally, emotionally and physically – determines if you can deliver an effective fundraising presentations. Delivering a series of fundraising presentations back-to-back can – unsurprisingly – seriously affect your energy levels. However, there are strategies you can employ to perform at your best even if it’s your sixth meeting in one day and you want to catch the last flight home:
Fundraising presentations are the ultimate first impressions test. And like all first impressions, it’s a one-time deal – there are no second chances. So it makes sense to prepare for what you’re walking into by doing your homework.
A 2014 study by Qvidian revealed that teams often lose deals because they haven’t customised their content to their audience’s needs. Successful fundraisers thoroughly research each investor to better understand what’s important to them. This enables you to focus your narrative around what the investor needs, and how you can solve their unique problems.
Once your narrative is in place, it’s time to put in the hours preparing, editing and refining your fundraising presentation. No two presentations will ever be the same; the motivations and personalities of investors will always vary.
The more investor-ready you are, the quicker and easier it will be to raise funds. But how do you know when you’re ready? Our new eBook, Standing Out with Investors, sets out eight questions to answer about your Private Equity Fund or VC Firm. Each question will help you identify whether that element is a strength or an area for improvement.
The eBook is also full of practical tips, advice and feedback from LPs, and will help you make immediate improvements to your investor pitches and meetings. Download it for free here.
Investors are more demanding today than ever before. Competition has increased; the barriers to convincing investors are higher. You need to do more to stand out. How you present is as important as what you present. If you want the best chance of securing investment from your fundraising presentations, talk to us.
Benjamin Ball Associates works with teams to help them impress investors. We deliver award-winning results, helping firms to raise money, improve investor days and prepare companies for sale.> Improve My Fundraising Presentation
Contact us today for professional help and advice with your fundraising presentations.
You may also be interested in our Little Green Book for Private Equity Fund Managers. This short guide details what we do at each stage of the process and how we can help you overcome your challenges with investors.
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“The new presentation properly represents the institutional quality of our fund. It has been a step change of us.”
Erwin de Kleijn Head of IR, Saemor Capital
“This training has contributed directly to new business – including a new FTSE100 client.”
Michelle Elstein Head of Business Development, Olswang LLP
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Gerry Bastable Director, Blast Films