Friday, August 30, 2013

The Framing Slide

I recommend beginning a presentation with a single slide with the following information:

  • What your business is, elevator pitch: “We build faster-than-light teleportation systems”
  • How far along you are: “We are building the first prototype for the scalable system”
  • Who you (and your team, if any) are, by function:  “We built the first teleport prototype at NASA”
  • What you’re asking for: “We’re raising $200M to finish the scalable prototype”

Maybe there’s other bullets that go on this slide, but these seem like the essential ones.

Why?  Put yourself in your audience’s shoes: they don’t know who you are or why you’re there.  They need a framework to put the rest of your presentation into perspective.  Who What and Why supplies this framework (basically the same advice given to news story writers; get it into the first paragraph).

I can’t tell you how unusual it is for a presentation to have such a slide.  Of all the deals I’ve seen at Valhalla, I think maybe 5 or 6 had something like this.  The presenters who had framing slides tended to be return entrepreneurs (although it was by no means the case that every returning entrepreneur used them).

How do most presentations begin?  A slide with our name, the name of the company, and a relatively non-specific tag line.

So in this case it would be:

  • Valhalla Partners
  • Regent Teleportation
  • “Journeys Simplified”

This does nothing to help frame the presentation.  I get it that you’re talking to me, but it’s actually not really news.  If your name has to do with what you do, that’s a bit helpful, but not as helpful as saying what you do (and in today’s world, most startups have names that tell you very little about what they do; to be fair, most investor groups don’t have such names either).  And the tag line may be useful in some context, but is not helpful here.

Or the first slide will have a handsome graphic and plunge right into the market problem.

In this case, the first slide would show commuters waiting for a crowded subway train, and say

  • 100 billion commutes take longer than they should

You get the idea.

I think a framing slide stands out (since there are so few of them) and shows respect for your audience (since you show that you understand what they’re thinking at the beginning of the pitch).

What’s not to like?

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