Making Commercial Presentations
The following article has recently been published in the newsletters of the Hungarian Biotechnology Association and Nexxus, the network for the life sciences in the south of Scotland. We are always happy to help clients craft their presentations to meet the needs of specific situations and also offer a half day seminar on Commercial Presentations.
Ten Tips for Successful Commercial Presentations
I have sat through an enormous number of pitches over the years some of which were successful in that the parties moved forward together and others were not. No matter how good your presentation there is no guarantee that there will be a deal as the parties’ interests simply may not be sufficiently aligned although a good presentation may lead to further introductions or the development of a relationship that will bear surprising fruit later. Many opportunities however never get off the ground because the presentation is just so awful. Creating a good presentation is an art form and there are many ways to increase its effectiveness which cannot be covered in this short article but here are ten simple ways to at least make a start.
1 – In planning your presentation be very clear what you are hoping to achieve – are you looking for money, a collaboration, a supportive voice, a further introduction – what? You need to ensure that your presentation is focussed on that “ask” and is not just a generic set of slides that you always use.
2 – Consider who will be present from the other side and why they are interested in meeting with you. If your proposal does not match their needs there will be no deal no matter how scientifically interesting your technology.
3 – Treat this as you would a job interview. Potential partners are at least as interested in the management and its perceived ability to deliver as in the technology. Carefully consider who should be present and dress appropriately erring on the conservative side! Ensure you are all well groomed and your shoes are polished.
4 – The other party wants to feel confident in your ability to deliver so ensure you take along someone who will give them that comfort. This can often be the finance director, even if he is part time, or you may wish to involve a director or senior scientist who is perhaps known to the other party or who has industry experience.
5 – In putting together the presentation get your big points in first to cement your audience’s attention. The first point should have a human element eg xxx children die of yy every year because their condition is not diagnosed sufficiently early, with our test we believe we could diagnose these children at a much earlier stage leading to xx more surviving. Then move on to why your technology could deliver this benefit.
6 – Consider the clarity of your graphics in the format you are going to present them. A complex graph is often problematic but while you may just about get away with thin black lines showing multiple values and measuring points indicated by little crosses and circles in a written paper it looks terrible blown up in a PowerPoint presentation from 12 feet away at the far end of a Board room table. Redraw it to cover only the points you want to discuss. You can carry additional material with you to produce if you need to get into specific detail on the other data.
7 – Try to predict the likely challenges to your arguments and in particular any negatives that may be raised about your technology and be prepared to answer them. Some issues should be tackled head on eg where similar technologies have failed in the past make it clear why yours is different and likely to avoid the earlier problems. Other potential issues may be better left for the other party to raise but make sure you have the arguments and data to support your case to hand.
8 – Make sure you leave behind a summary document that highlights your main points whether or not you also leave copies of your slides or other materials. A short well focussed document is much more likely to be read by senior and perhaps less technically skilled managers and to be circulated around the decision makers – make it easy for people to engage with your ideas.
9 – Be prepared for technical problems. If you are using any electronics make sure you have at least two different sources of the information available. Take enough paper copies for everyone who is likely to be attending. If you have any long distance link ups have an alternative plan in case the technology lets you down.
10 – Be enthusiastic. If you cannot work up any enthusiasm for your idea why should any one else?