Fundraising presentations

Fundraising presentations: a survive and thrive guide for talking to investors

April 21, 2017

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:

 

1. Success starts with preparation

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:

  • Who exactly is my audience – and what do they want?
  • What do I want to achieve – how am I going to sell our investment opportunity?
  • How can I hook people in – by grabbing their attention early on?
  • What is my takeaway message – the one that I want to be remembered for afterwards?

“It’s not supposed to be easy. If it was, then everyone would do it.”

Charles Dunstone, founder of Carphone Warehouse

 

2. Define and refine your investment story

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:

  • Being relatable – connect with investors by highlighting a scenario relevant to them
  • Detailing a conflict – introduce a challenge you’ve overcome to encourage empathy
  • Presenting the resolution – to demonstrate your expertise
  • Demonstrating results – the human impacts, qualitative results and quantitative outcomes.

3. Use a clear presentation structure

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.

 

4. Have a two-way conversation

“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:

  • Have you seen this before?
  • Does that make sense?
  • What are your thoughts on what we’ve shown you so far?

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.

 

 5. You’re an A team: convey it.

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.

 

 6. The non-verbal is important too

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:

  • Sit or stand upright, rather than slouching.
  • Nod your head to acknowledge each others’ contributions.
  • Smile to stimulate feelings of trust, warmth and cooperation.

Impressions are everything – investors’ perception of your team when you are with them is what matters.

 

7. Embrace challenging questions

Investors are often 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; always respond politely. Prepare your answers and rehearse delivering them confidently and calmly together as a team – the last thing you want is your team being visibly surprised by each other’s answers.

Our tips:

  • Every team member has their own specialism – avoid treading on each other’s toes.
  • Know everything inside out – to cover for others if they have to miss a specific fundraising presentation.
  • Be flexible – use your intuition to flex the level of detail in your response according to your audience.
  • Avoid taking criticism personally – focus on building trust, rather than ‘winning’ with your responses.
  • Be honest about past failures – show what you learnt and how you have improved as a result.

8. Manage your energy levels between fundraising presentations

Being in peak physical condition – mentally, emotionally and physically – has a real impact on your ability to deliver 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:

  • View each fundraising presentation as a standalone event – every meeting is equally important.
  • Take a break between meetings – go for a walk outside to get some fresh air.
  • Switch team roles – knowing each other’s roles inside out comes in handy here.
  • Learn from each presentation – take time to review what went well, what didn’t, and what could be done differently next time.

 

9. Practise, edit, practise, refine, practise

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.

 


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.

Start improving your fundraising presentation today

 

Contact us today for professional help and advice with your fundraising presentations.

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