A couple of things to do before getting into your demo or presentation

Ed SimMy buddy Ed Sim has posted a piece that I recommend anyone doing a company, financing or product pitch to read: Don’t forget that vision thing. This paragraph sums it well:

As one of our marketing consultants, Richard Currier, has always told our portfolio companies, "you market the vision, and sell the product." If you get too locked into talking about a product, then your partner or customer gets stuck into thinking about who else does this and why are you different.  Getting into a feature/function battle in the first meeting is not a great way to start.  Sure enough, our prospective partner started naming several companies asking us how we differed from them.  If you start with a vision first and clearly talk about your view of the market in the future and how your product evolves from where it is today to a roadmap of the future, then it is easier to differentiate your company and bring the discussion to a higher level. 

Too often do I sit in presentations or pitches with a company, and we end up diving in a deck or a demo without even getting two critical pieces of context: background & objectives.

  • Background: introduce the company in a few sentences, and simple terms, covering history, vision and team.
  • Objectives: establish what your motives are for this meeting, and how you are suggesting to conduct it.

Spending 2 to 3 minutes on setting up the context sort of brings everyone on the same page, and focuses attendees on fact gathering. I made a similar comment after Demo 2006 when I liveblogged about 68 companies (!!!): companies that did not give attendees a context really represented a challenge when trying to write about them.

A collateral benefit on setting up the context of such a presentation is that it can be more or less scripted, which allows people who have a bit of a challenge kicking off a speech to practice.


  • http://www.webvapors.com Vaibhav Domkundwar

    Jeff: This is so true. While it cannot be generalized, a lot of times you come across people who jump the vision and compare the features with existing competitive solutions. A number of times the vision differentiates the successful company from the average one. I personally feel this was true in the auction space, where eBay – which was not the first in the market – clearly became a winner due to their vision which turned out to be correct.

  • http://www.hojohnlee.com Ho John Lee

    Getting the background and objectives up front in a meeting is always a good idea. (i.e. “Why are we here?”)
    Perhaps I’m being grumpy, but I’d rather *not* see everyone spending a lot of time on vision for every presentation. I’ve been through too many meetings with companies that use most of their slotted time showing lovely slides and talking about vision, but never getting around to a reason to continue talking with them.
    If the “vision” being presented has a new angle, I’d like to hear it. If it’s essentially the “consensus” vision, let’s just hear where they think they fit in or how it’s going to change the landscape.

  • http://mattthompson.blogharbor.com/blog/_archives/2006/8/24/2260684.html Matt Thompson’s Courses

    COM3110 Reading

    Read before Monday’s (Aug 28) class.
    http://blog.softtechvc.com/2006/06/a_couple_of_thi.html