How to Improve Your Business Plan Presentation Skills
When you’re a business owner – especially of a small business or start-up, chances are you’ll be giving a business plan presentation. You absolutely need to be prepared for this because, first of all, first impressions count, and second of all, you’ll have only a few minutes (usually 15 to 20) to explain your project and convince your audience to invest in your business or lend you money.
Obviously, the first thing you need is a well-tailored financial and business plan that you know by heart. Remember that if you need help to begin constructing your business plan, we offer a free business and financial plan template for download here.
With preparation and the tips we’ll give you in this article, you should be able to convince your audience with no trouble at all.
Study Your Business Plan
Be conscientious with your studying. First, know which learning technique works best for you. Everyone learns differently and knowing how your mind processes information is crucial. Do you need to hear key sentences aloud, or are you more of a visual learner? You can also try to record yourself and listen to the recording few times a day, during your daily commutes for example.
Then, make a schedule for your studying: look what you need to learn and the in which you need to learn it so that you don’t get lost in one difficult part and forget another. Plan breaks, plan deadlines… it is recommended to study 30 to 50 minutes at a time and to take 10 minute breaks. If you don’t take breaks, chances are you won’t remember everything because the human brain isn’t designed to stay alert for more than a certain period of time. And finally, study in environments you like, and get comfortable. If you need people around, go to a café or study with a friend. If you’re a loner, stay home or go to a library where everyone will be quiet.
Organise Your Visual Aids
Follow Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule; it’s still relevant even after over ten years. This rule says that your business plan presentation “should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes and contain no fonts smaller than 30 point”. That’s not all: luckily for all business owners, Kawasaki’s rule was originally created especially for business plan presentation and followed by a proposition of topics for the 10 slides:
- Title: Company name, your name and title, address, email and phone number
- The problem: introduce a persistent problem for your target market. Your audience should be able to understand how this problem is affecting people.
- The solution: describe how your business has found a solution to the problem described in the previous slide. Focus on showing your unique approach; it’s also a good time to introduce your value proposition.
- The underlying technology: give an overview of how the business is organised. From production to delivery, from marketing to customer service… it often helps to keep this slide visual, try to put together a schema of your operating plan. Talk about technology but keep it simple.
- The business model: how are you going to make money? Talk about your customers, revenue sources, pricing structure and how you expect to make a profit.
- Sales and marketing: show how you’re going to advertise and promote your products. Be specific, talk about the location of your billboards or the broadcast hours of your commercials. If you take over social media, mention which networks and why. And talk budget!
- The competition: speak honestly about your competition, and focus on explaining what gives you a competitive edge.
- The team: time to introduce your team. You can use individual or group pictures. Describe each of your team members with one sentence that illustrates why you recruited them.
- Projections and milestones: as for the underlying technology slide, this one should also be very visual. Show your financial projection and 3 to 5 year forecast and be prepared to explain in detail how you came up with these numbers.
- Summary and call to action: explain the current status of your product and where you are at present. Then show what your next steps are and what you intend to do with the money you are trying to raise.
Just because you’re operating in a business context doesn’t mean you need to employ too much jargon to reach your audience. Keep your stories simple and use laymen’s terms to describe what it is you do, you’re more likely to be understood. Try to speak in a conversational tone, as if you were describing your business plan to your friends or family. It will help your listeners identify with you as a person.
Know your Audience: Are you Meeting with Investors or Lenders?
Investors will be interested in your growing potential. They want to know if the investment they give you has a chance of growing. They want to know if the market for your product is expanding, if you have an exit strategy, and simply how much return on investment they can make.
If you meet lenders, focus on showing them you anticipate the risks associated with your venture, and that their money will be returned with interest and on-schedule. Before you meet with them, demonstrate that you have the right pricing for your market niche, that you have contingency plans prepared, and don’t forget to base your presentation on clear and proven facts.
Don’t hesitate to do some relaxation exercises before entering the room: I personally recommend cardiac coherence, a simple breathing exercise that helps you keep control of your emotions.
Good luck with your business plan presentation, and if you have other tips, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section.