Article of the Day

In Defense of the Deck – Bill Gurley, Above the Crowd

Video of the Day

The Benefits of Mapping Plan A – Randy Komisar, Kleiner Perkins


Investors are not solely evaluating your company’s story. They are also evaluating your ability to convey that story.
~ Bill Gurley, Benchmark Capital

Designing a Killer Business Plan Presentation

Elevator pitch competitions are a great means for an entrepreneur to polish their skills in communicating a business idea as well as their ability to persuade.  There is a distinct difference between an elevator pitch and a business plan presentation, however, and I fear that many entrepreneurs fail to recognize it.  Instead they turn an ninety second pitch into twenty minute pitch and fail to connect with prospective investors, partners, and supporters.

A killer business plan presentation is not just a pitch.  It’s not just a slide deck.  It’s not just a recitation of projected financials.  Rather, it’s an experience that will energize an audience about a business and the team that’s a part of it.

A killer business plan presentation is designed, not prepared.  It’s a dialogue where a problem is resolved using a creative solution and the improved future result is described in glorious detail.

Here are some tips for designing that killer business plan presentation.

Tell your audience stories – People learn and remember in story form.  You want the audience to be curious to turn the page.  They wan to know what comes next.  To Bill Gurley’s point above, you also need to sell yourself as part of the stories, but the form is the narrative around the problem your business solves, how it solves it, and how your business will carve out a place in a market are key.  In one of our early, early presentations on E-Markets, I recall a listener remarking that we had our ‘story down.’  I didn’t really get what he meant a the time, but he was a more experienced entrepreneur and he appreciated the narrative we’d created on why the business was needed.

Create a dialogue with your audience – Your aim with a business plan presentation to engage the audience by creating a real back-and-forth dialogue.  As you structure your presentation, deliberately leave out important bits of information that will elicit questions from your audience.  Ask your audience questions and ask for feedback.  In our investor presentations at E-Markets, myself and the two members of the team that were always with me had a certainly rhythm for the presentations.  I was the front guy.  We knew (after many presentations) the questions that would come up and at what point they would come up.  My teammates would take turns answering those questions.  In effect what we were able to do was to create a dynamic conversation on the business and demonstrate that each of the three of us on the management team brought strengths to the business.

Understand the financials and the economics of the business – A discussion of the financial performance and projections of the business is certainly expected in a business plan presentation.  A common mistake is that the entrepreneurs fail to understand the financial economics of the business.  I was at a business plan presentation where an entrepreneur pitched their business and had a fairly good grasp of the financials on top of a really well prepared financial plan.  A question from a potential investor that completely tripped up the entrepreneur, however, was about the unit economics of the business.  “What are the projected costs per pound?”  The investor later told me that he wouldn’t invest in any business where the entrepreneur didn’t have a firm grasp of his or her unit economics.

Tie the audience into the plan – If there isn’t some way for you to tie your audience into your plan, then perhaps you shouldn’t be presenting to them.  Can you energize them to be an investor or customer of the business?  Is there a means of making their personal involvement seem like an exciting and interesting prospect?   You will know you’ve done well in this respect after the presentation is done if a member of the audience approaches you for a more private conversation.

What are the stories about your business that will engage audiences?  How do you create not just a presentation, but a dialogue with audiences?