Archive for November, 2013

The 5 P’s of great presentations

A quick cheat sheet for you to start making great presentations now.

Plan: For both the audience size as well as their expectations. Pitching your idea to a set of 5 investors is completely different from getting 500 people to vote for your start-up in a large competition. Do your homework to make sure that your intended audience is deriving value from what you have to say.

Attention is the commodity that’s in shortest supply in today’s twitter enabled word. Make sure that you are constantly exchanging value for the audience’s time.

Tip: Start strong, have a solid middle & a memorable ending. If movies can do this for 2 hours, you can do it for 20 minutes.


Plain: Too often, people get carried away with using Powerpoint’s features. Remember that any software is just a tool. Simplicity is also the ultimate sophistication. The real impact of a presentation is what the speaker is saying, how they say it & most importantly, what the audience understands.

Tip: Ensure that you follow the 30-20-10 rule. 30 point text in your slide, 20 minutes for the entire presentation & not more than 10 slides. This forces you to use graphics on the slide, keep it short & more importantly – your audience is now listening to what you have to say, not reading (faster than you) from your own slides.


Practice: The default behavior for most presenters is to put their thoughts down on a slide & then land up on D-day & throw up content on an unsuspecting audience. The difference between good & great presentations is practice. Think of a presentation like stand up comedy. What looks effortless & spontaneous on stage is actually the result of studied practice & timing.

Tip: For every minute of presentation run time, you should ideally put down 10 minutes of practice. In front of the mirror, with helpless friends & a mock run at the actual venue before the audience arrives are great iterative options.


Pause: Since public speaking is ranked second in most surveys as the thing that people fear most (Death being first), some butterflies in your stomach are par for the course before going on stage. A quick sip of water & a few deep breaths should take care of most palpitations. Thinking of the audience as a group of friends that are keen to hear what you have to say helps too.

Tip: Pick a few friendly faces (even if you have to look really hard) spread through out the audience before you get on stage. Keep maintaining eye contact between them by turns. Helps you smile plus the majority of the audience thinks you are looking at them.


Passion: After all the preparation in the world, truly great speakers love the idea or concept that they are trying to communicate. If you are passionate about what your are saying, it will shine through. No technique or shortcut can make this up for you.

Tip: Don’t confuse passion with emotion. Being angry is not the same thing as being involved.


V C Karthic is an entrepreneur (whose latest crazy idea is this) based out of Mumbai. He works with start-ups & incubators across the country on their presentation & pitching skills. This article appeared earlier in the year in the SINE (IIT-Mumbai) newsletter.

When should a start-up go to an investor?

The unfortunate fact is that though being in the business of risk investments, most VC’s and Angel investors in India are highly risk-averse. This is why start-ups in India struggle to get off the ground. Past experience has made investors extremely careful with their investment decisions and despite such extreme caution still end up with a dismal success rate of less than 20%. So I guess that makes them even more cautious.

So what will make an investor take that leap of faith with your venture? Put yourself in the shoes of the investor and critically appraise your venture and decide if you will invest money in the venture. It would help to give you a different perspective and help you plan accordingly.

So when do you know you are ready for investments?

Any investor will want to know if your venture will help him get good returns and in how much time. To be able to give some reasonable answers to these reasonable questions, the venture should be able to clearly demonstrate its ability to help the investor take a considered decision. For example:

  1. Is your target segment large enough to ensure sustainable business growth over the next 3-5 years?
  2. Have you validated your product with some customer experience? Even if it is not a paying customer, has your product been tested in real time?
  3. How has it fared? Does it really address a problem? Please remember, a problem is a problem only if a customer recognizes it as a problem. Not because you think so.
  4. Is the customer willing to pay for what he has experienced with your product? This will move your product from a ‘good to have’ to a ‘need to have’ product.
  5. Does your product offer a clear ROI? In other words, does your product or solution help to clearly address an existing problem and have you been able to quantify the benefits that the customer will derive from it? This is what will make the customer take that investment decision.
  6. Do you know your competition? What competitive barriers have you planned to ensure you stay ahead of competition at all times? How have you planned the longevity of your product and your venture?
  7. Have you put in place a credible and actionable business plan?
  8. Do you know how much investment you require and for what?
  9. If you have reasonably good answers to the above set of typical concerns that any investor would have, then I guess you are ready to go looking for investment with reasonable chances of success. Ofcourse, if you also have a set of paying customers who are willing to stand up and talk for your product, then the chances of success are even better.

Moreover, if you actually have a unique product with a set of USP’s that makes yours a ‘me-only’ product and/or if your product or some part of what your product does is patentable because of its uniqueness, then investors would not mind overlooking some of the factors mentioned above. But please remember, just because your product is me-only or patentable it does not necessarily mean you will have a paying customer. I have seen some of these patentable or patent-pending products remain just ‘good-to-have’ and struggling to find a paying customer. However unique, it still has to demonstrate clear ROI before the customer digs into his pocket.

In most cases, I have found that the entrepreneur does not have answers to most of these concerns and therefore, the difficulty in getting investments. The investor is willing to invest. You only have to give him the confidence that his investment will perform for him the way it is expected to.

The author, Srikanth Vasuraj, is a Business Consultant focused on helping start-ups to grow. He can be reached at +91-98454 78585 or . For more information please visit .