Time-tested tactics for building investor presentations

Over the past two years, I’ve designed dozens of presentations for a variety of companies at various stages of fundraising — from startup SAFE rounds, to VC rounds and IPOs.

In this article, I will attempt to recap and share some of the lessons I’ve learned.

Don’t build one presentation, build three

A story, like a relationship, is built in stages. It’s important to match each stage with the appropriate content. Typically, this means a short intro presentation for the intro stage, a frontal presentation for the meeting itself and a reading presentation to send as a follow-up.

You could write a book on the subtleties and differences between these three presentations, but for now, here are some guidelines:

Reading presentation

This is your main presentation, and it should be able to stand on its own without a speaker. You will send this presentation as follow-up after your first significant meeting with an investor. Its purpose is to facilitate in-depth and open discourse, and so is typically between 12 and 20 slides long.

Fundraising is largely the result of trust and momentum.

Intro presentation

This is a short and succinct version of the reading presentation. Its purpose is to get you the first meeting, so you don’t have to get into the nitty gritty of the business and can leave room for questions.

It is common to send six to eight slides and hit the basic “notes” of the pitch, such as what the problem is, what the solution is, who the team is, what the differentiation is and what is happening in the market.

Frontal presentation

A stripped down, minimal version of the reading presentation, the frontal presentation is designed to empower and keep the focus on the speaker, not compete for attention. This presentation is often heavier on visuals and illustrations and lighter on text. This presentation doesn’t get shared and the number of slides don’t matter. Use as many as you need to bring your point home.

A presentation’s goal is not to get you an investment

An amazing presentation alone will not convince an investor. In practice, the best result a presentation can provide is a follow-up meeting with a sense of momentum and clarity about the company’s story, its current situation, goals and opportunities.