Blog: The Importance of Know Thy Audience

I’m often baffled while watching presentations from entrepreneurs when they don’t present the information Investors request. This happens even though many organizations offer suggested information they would like to see. Some investor groups suggest topics to cover by asking for 12-15 slides. Before any presentation, I believe it’s necessary to update the audience and determine what they are looking for.

No doubt slides presenting the product, the market, competition and team are important. But I look for what I call the money slides.

These include:

  • The Money–It’s important to define the money that is requested, and also, how that money is going to be used.
  • Company Valuation–This is important to determine the ownership for the investors.
  • Financial Projections—These will help to evaluate the potential return on investment, ROI.
  • The Exit Plan for an Equity Transaction–Too often I see slides that are just filled up with a bunch of logos and not enough detail to believe an exit plan has a chance.

It is possible to combine some of this information into the slides.

In some of my startup experiences with technical people it’s surprising how too many slides may be dedicated to the product which eats valuable time for the presentation

In operating a company, the need for information is required by many diverse groups from the staff to the Board of Directors. For instance, the Business plan for the coming year will have the basic information presented in various forms. The emphasis that is needed will be different for the staff and employees, the Board of Directors, the Bank and even the bonus plan. The bank will be most interested in cash and how their loan will be serviced, whereas the bonus plan will focus on the information that relates to the goals. In the bonus plan, the revenue will be aggressive, whereas in the bank plan the numbers will be conservative.

Before a presentation, business plan or sales call it is extremely important to have an idea on what the audience is looking for. In today’s world, you can gather numerous data off the Internet, but I have learned a long time ago, data is not information unless it useful.