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12.6 Business Presentation

The business presentation is the dog and pony show. One of my students asked me whether the business presentation should be informational or a pitch. It should be both, and that is the ongoing dilemma for the presenters. Including the proper mix of information and creating excitement about the business is a difficult task. The presentation should have conveyed approximately the same content as the business plan, but in an abbreviated format (see Note 12.4 "Business Plan Presentation"). The goal is to maintain interest and communicate your ideas. The ideal number of slides for the presentation should be approximately one slide for each section. However, this can be increased if the slides are not too dense. This means that you will have to talk around the key concepts of each section. You do not want to read your slides. Just have the key concepts on the slide and talk around them. The most important thing you can do is practice your presentation and, if possible, memorize your notes. There are always limits on the length of the presentation and it is important to hit that mark within 30 seconds. Practice helps to convey the impression that you know what you are talking about and that you have the best product since sliced white bread. Guy Kawasaki suggests a 10/20/30 rule. That is 10 slides, for 20 minutes using a 30-point font. This is good advice, but it is sometimes necessary to extend the number of slides depending on the particular business context and the amount of content in each slide.

Business Plan Presentation

General guidelines for business plan presentations

  1. Introduction of team (30 seconds)
  2. Company overview (4 minutes)

    1. Description of products and services to be offered.
    2. Presentation of your product, service, or system prototype. Could be a prototype, a scenario, a picture, a diagram, or a mock-up of your product, or service. Briefly discuss the prototype.
    3. How does the product or service solve an important problem or present an opportunity to fill an important market niche?
    4. Discuss how the product is competitive.
    5. How do you intend to differentiate yourself (price, quality, or service)?
    6. Present a Strategy Canvas illustrating how your product/service compares to the competition.
    7. What is the size of the market you intend to enter?
    8. What is the growth potential of your market?
  3. Industry analysis (1 minute)

    1. Description of current and potential competitors (substitute products).
    2. How will competition react to market entry?
    3. What are the barriers to entry?
    4. Are there critical governmental or economic issues?
  4. Marketing strategy (2 minutes)

    1. How will you price your product?
    2. What customer segments are you trying to reach? How will versions be matched to customer segments?
    3. How will you promote your product?
    4. What techniques will you use to acquire customers?
    5. How will you retain and lock-in customers?
    6. How will you distribute your product?
  5. Operations strategy (2 minutes)

    1. Where will the product be made?
    2. How will it be made?
    3. Who will build the product or service?
    4. What are the detailed variables and fixed costs for producing the product or service?
    5. Are there important issues related to the supply of components/materials?
    6. Are there important issues related to the fulfillment of orders?
  6. Forecasts and financials (2 minutes)

    1. What do your projections show for sales, profit, expense, growth, and investment?
    2. Capital requirements over the next 3 years.

      1. Development costs
      2. Advertising costs
      3. Human resources
      4. Sources of capital
  7. Stage of development and the implementation plan (1–2 minutes)

    1. What resources have already been committed?
    2. What stage of development are you in?
    3. What needs to be done before launch?
    4. When and how will the system be implemented (show timeline here)?
  8. How much venture capital funding do you need? (1 minute)

    1. What are you offering in return for funds?
    2. When can they obtain return?
    3. Return on investment expected?
  9. Summary (30 seconds)

    These are the restrictions I use: Questions (4 minutes): Total allowable time for presentation and questions is 19 minutes. Be sure to conduct a trial run of your presentation so that you will not go over the 15-minute presentation limit.

Be sure to illustrate a prototype or at least show an illustration of your product or service. The prototype could be an illustration, a picture, a diagram, an example report, a scenario, or a mock-up of your product or service. If you are developing a complex process that is hard to understand, then you should still try to convey the idea using some sort of flow diagram or business process diagram. The goal here is to try to get your audience to understand just what you are trying to sell and try to get them to buy your product or service. The goal is not to be vague or obscure. As noted earlier, the scenario is a very effective tool for communicating the business concept. An actual or even a fictional scenario can be a powerful tool for explaining how the product or service works. Scenario presentations can include live acting, movie clips, storyboards using clipart and drawings, simulations and even the use of stick figure animation.

The business should be pitched and presented several times before the final plan is developed. The business plan presentation along with the executive summary will help to structure the business and make it more focused, clear, and understandable. It is all part of the learning process consisting of learning-about and learning-by-doing. It is important to have someone document all the questions that arise during the presentation and then to try to understand what the questions mean. It could be simply that the business model was not communicated effectively during the presentation, or a critical issue was not considered and that it needs to be addressed. Businesses are emergent; they take time to design, build, and to be successful; and the pitch and presentation is a critical part of the growth process.