Do you look forward to watching TV documentaries about science?
For the majority of people, the reply is ‘no’.
Put Professor Brian Cox at the centre of a series though, and the answer, for millions, becomes ‘yes’.
The pop star of particle physics, Cox is undoubtedly the UK’s favourite – and most high profile – scientist.
Cox has the credentials – a first class BSc, a Masters and two Fellowships – but so do many other scientists. What makes him different is his warmth. He’s likeable.
Another Professor, Amy Cuddy from Harvard Business School, studied the relative importance of likability and credibility in fundraising. Her research looked at what the most successful entrepreneurs did differently when pitching to VCs.
She found out that the entrepreneurs who closed deals were both credible and likeable. Both traits are equally important to build trust and persuade VCs to invest.
We often film private equity fund managers during their 1:1 pitch preparation with us, so they can view how they come across more objectively. We’ve found that they are able to project more warmth through simple changes such as asking more questions, smiling more and maintaining more eye contact. All things which Cox does regularly when presenting.
Rather than just tell us how much energy is radiated by the sun, in Wonders of the Solar System Professor Brian Cox showed us how it can be calculated. Using everyday equipment such as a tin of water, a thermometer, an umbrella and some school-level maths, Cox sat in the Mojave Desert and talked us through the experiment.
Some ideas for demonstrating (rather than telling) what is unique about your private equity fund include:
– Tangible products. We have encouraged private equity fund managers to take balsamic vinegar, aircraft models and even raw diamonds to their pitches.
– Third party endorsement. Could the CEO of one of your portfolio companies attend? They could talk about what they do, how your fund has helped them and often you communicate.
– Storytelling. Show investors what your fund does differently through stories. For example, you could relive the (true) story of how you saved a company that was on the brink of bankruptcy and sold it at a record high price. Or how you transformed a management team by inspiring and empowering them.
The ‘show don’t tell’ maxim applies to your pitch book, too. Test your pitch book for investor-readiness against our six questions here.
Cox takes incredibly complex topics and makes them accessible. In the Mojave Desert experiment, he tells viewers that the sun is delivering about a kilowatt of energy per square metre. To make this come alive, he points out that that’s enough energy to power ten 100-watt bulbs.
How do you bring your investment strategy alive? Can you explain it in a way that an intelligent 12-year old could grasp? As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Brian Cox is never patronising or simplistic. He doesn’t dumb down. But he does use every tool available to him to simplify his topics and make them as engaging as possible.
Parodies of Brian Cox playfully tease his endless awe and excitement with the wonders of the earth and solar system. It’s impossible to watch his programmes and not feel swept along by his sense of curiosity and fascination. His passion is infectious.
In contrast, many business pitches and presentations are delivered without enthusiasm. For the listener it’s a fight to stay attentive.
But research shows investors want to see private equity fund managers who are passionate about what they do.
You may have travelled halfway around the world to attend a pitch meeting. It might be your fifth meeting in one day. Nevertheless, to misquote Theodore Roosevelt, investors “don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
Brian Cox introduces the sun as a ‘colossal fiery sphere of tortured matter’. The northern lights ‘look like spirits drifting from the mountain into heaven’. The solar system contains ‘ancient beams of light’ which are ‘messengers from the universe’s distant past’.
It’s easy (and safe) to default to dull language in business. But it’s much more important to be memorable.
Metaphors, descriptions that appeal to the senses and rhetorical tools such as the power of three can all help you stand out when presenting to investors.
Could your investor pitches and portfolio companies benefit from some of Brian Cox’s presentation charisma?
Benjamin Ball Associates works with private equity firms to help them impress investors and polish their portfolio companies. Our clients include Permira, ECI, Sovereign Capital, Deutsches PE and Frog Capital. Visit our website for more information, or contact Louise on +44 (0)20 7018 0922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.Forces of Nature, presented by Professor Brian Cox, is on BBC1.
Paul Farrow is a Partner at Benjamin Ball Associates. In this video from SuperReturn US East, Paul discusses the common mistakes made by Private Equity funds when communicating with potential investors. He reveals the unexpected personality trait that investors look for in fund managers, and why LPs don’t want to ‘be taken through your pitch presentation’. He shares essential advice that will improve your fund’s messaging, help you stand out and impress prospective investors. Click the play button below to watch:
Fundraising presentations are hard work. You're bombarded with challenging questions from investors, worn out by long days, and struggling to...
Investment decision-making is not totally rational. Are you using all the tools at your disposal to create and deliver persuasive...
Do your public speaking skills inspire, motivate and influence others? They should. Many leaders are nervous of public speaking. Some...
A great investor pitch book is at the heart of successful fundraising. You use it to capture the essence of...
Better Body Language We all know that body language is important in business. But how important? And does is really...
How can you be seen as a top 1% fund by investors? At SuperReturn Emerging Markets in Amsterdam, experienced LPs...
A great elevator pitch is an essential part of your toolkit Last month I chaired the Quickfire Showcase at Berlin’s...
You must prepare for media interviews The excruciating Newsnight interview with Treasury Minister Chloe Smith this summer is one example of...
These days, we are writing more than ever. That means it’s harder than ever to grab attention. Your readers have...
When an investor questions how you calculated your Private Equity fund's performance, how do you react? If an investor asks...
How do you choose a public speaking coach? When selecting a public speaking coach or presentation trainer, you want to work...
How To Use Powerful Language For Leadership Communications Great leaders use Power Language. It adds interest and colour to...
So What? is probably your most important question. When you put your talk or presentation together, how do you decide what...
What do LPs want from private equity funds at first investor meetings? That's the question I put to the panel...
What do investors really want? Six tips We wrote this piece with our Private Equity clients in mind. But there...
Do you want to give high impact talks and presentations? Do you want to engage your audience? And do you want...
How to tell a great business story Leaders use storytelling so that audiences listen, remember and act on what they...
How do you make your investment pitch more memorable? It's a real challenge these days. Investors have more opportunities than...
Your leadership talks need to be persuasive As a leader, every talk or presentation you give is an exercise in persuasion....
A well-crafted private equity pitch book can make the difference between securing a first meeting with investors and getting a...
Our Most Popular Coaching Programmes
“BBA transformed our pitch into a compelling investment narrative. They undoubtedly helped us secure Sky TV as an investor.”
Gerry Bastable Director, Blast Films
“The new presentation properly represents the institutional quality of our fund. It has been a step change for us.”
Erwin de Kleijn Head of IR, Saemor Capital
“We were very pleased…[BBA] helped us define and explain our unique value proposition. As a result we have attracted new and different investors.”
Florian Kemmerich Managing Partner, Bamboo Capital Partners
Client Services Director
+44 (0)20 7018 0922