How to present your startup to investors in person or virtually
Pitching to investors is a huge part of every startup’s journey, from raising initial funds to generating further rounds of investment as your business grows. The startup ecosystem is an attention economy with time as the currency. Your audience is likely to be time-poor, so slick well-rehearsed pitches will stand out and capture investors’ attention.
As the founder of a startup, you’ll need to be comfortable executing a great presentation anywhere and to anyone – be it at a startup pitching event in front of a room full of potential investors or a one-on-one meeting with an angel investor.
You will also most likely have to contend with virtual pitching, presenting your business to investors through a screen. You’ll need to feel confident giving your startup pitch presentation remotely as there’s a good chance you will not be able to meet all your investors face to face.
Creating an awesome startup pitch deck is one thing but presenting it well to investors is quite another. That is why we have put together this guide with some of our top tips for pitching both online and in person.
Tips for presenting to investors in person
Nerve-wracking though it may be, delivering your startup pitch presentation in person comes with the advantage of being in the room. You can pick up on investors’ reactions to you and your pitch and convey your passion much more easily.
Nonetheless, it’s easier said than done, so check out our tips below:
- Dress the part
How you present yourself is nearly as important as your presentation. Wear a smart, clean outfit to make the best first impression you can.
- Appear confident (even if you’re not)
Body language is the biggest advantage that presenting to investors in person offers you. How you stand and move conveys a huge amount of information about you to your potential investors, particularly if you are relaxed and confident under pressure.
- Use eye contact
As scary as it may be, eye contact keeps people’s attention on you and makes your presentation more engaging. It also speaks volumes about your proficiency as a presenter.
You have the opportunity to look your potential investors in the eye – use it.
- Don’t read off your slides
By the time you’re standing in front of investors, you should know your presentation back to front. Knowing your main points or a general outline of what you’re going to say gives you more fluency, flexibility, and means you’ll look up at your audience.
Relying on your slides for what you’re saying not only makes you look unpractised, it can make your pitch boring.
- Time your presentation
Good pacing is key to a successful presentation to investors. You don’t want to rush through all your points at breakneck speed and confuse your audience, but you also don’t want to go so slowly that you bore your audience, or worse, run out of time.
You also don’t want to spend your entire slot talking and leave no time for investors to ask their questions.
Time yourself when you’re practising to be sure that you can keep to time and speak at a good speed.
- Show off your personality
Make every effort to sell yourself when presenting to investors in person – you are the founder after all. If your enthusiasm for your business is palpable, it can illicit the same passion in others, so don’t hide it.
Tips for presenting to investors online
Pitching online comes with its own challenges, but it has the benefit of making your pitch more accessible to a wider pool of investors and can draw their focus more to your content than pitching in-person.
However, it can be harder to hold investors’ attention, technology can malfunction, and not being able to exhibit your charisma through a screen all make virtual pitching challenging.
To ensure it all runs smoothly, here are our tips:
- Test your technology
Obvious as it may sound, check your WiFi connection well in advance of the meeting beginning. Familiarise yourself with the conferencing tool you will be using and join the call early to test audio, camera and dashboard functionality.
- Use your voice
When pitching virtually, investors’ focus less on your body language and more on your voice. Speak clearly and make sure you vary your delivery and tone to keep yourself as engaging as possible.
However, don’t forget you are on camera. Formal dress and body language mustn’t be disregarded.
- Set your pace
Unlike presenting in person, you don’t have any obvious pointers that you’re speeding through your pitch when you’re on a call. Knowing and sticking to a practised pace is the best way to ensure your audience can absorb all the information and don’t get bored.
- Don’t read off a piece of paper
While you may think that you can get away with this when you’re presenting virtually, your audience will probably know you’re just reading out something you wrote down beforehand.
When presenting to investors, you should know your content thoroughly and only use barebones pointer cards if you need them (however this doesn’t mean reciting your pitch from memory either).
- Don’t succumb to ‘zoom’ fatigue
Summon as much energy and enthusiasm for an online pitch to investors as you would for an in-person one. This is particularly important if you’re doing multiple virtual pitches in one day.
- Try not to be shaken by sudden interruptions
If you’re interrupted or something unexpected happens, remain as professional as you can and don’t get distracted from delivering your pitch for investment just as you practised.
- Remember to invite questions
Potential investors may find it harder to interject and ask questions when you’re not able to spot their cues, so be sure to leave time at the end of your presentation and encourage investors to ask questions.
When pitching to investors preparation is key
If it looks like an important opportunity, don’t be that founder who wheels out a generic version of their pitch. A great pitch evolves as your company evolves, and it moves with the audience. It is never ‘done.’ Preparation for every investor pitch is key:
1. Do your research into your audience
Knowing your audience and targeting your pitch to them will help you present more confidently and is more likely to attract investment.
Half of the battle is knowing who is in the room, what they care about and which buttons you can press to persuade them to invest. Dig deep into their criteria to understand what they look for – what’s their business model? Search for their most recent investments and how recently they raised a fund, and check LinkedIn to better discover their individual background.
If it’s a broader audience, unpack the guest list as much as you can. Done well, you get a real insight into their focus, their thinking and by extension, what they care about. It may also help you predict the type of questions you get asked when you’ve finished presenting.
2. Practice makes perfect
No-one will be expecting you to be Steve Jobs on day one. Self-assured body language and flawless delivery don’t always come first time. No matter how painful it is to begin with, keep practising and keep iterating.
Test your pitch on a variety of audiences – even if it’s just your friends – and practise it both in person and online. If you’re struggling, learn from the best: watch examples of pitches from industry experts.
3. Be yourself
When presenting to investors, the personality of the presenter should shine through. Mix up your investor pitch presentation depending on what works best for the story and your audience. Be authentic and stay creative.
Above all, be yourself. You, the founder, got the business to where it is today. So trust your intuition and go with what feels right.
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