This was probably my third Venture Lounge and most probably the largest as well with approx. 150 people attending it. There were a total of 9 startups presenting that day–in all different stages of the cycle from pure idea to seeking a second round of financing. What really surprised me though was the quality of the presentations. Here’s my advice for anyone thinking about going for such a round of pitches.

Time Yourself

Hard to believe, but although people seem to have tailored their slides to the audience, they didn’t pay attention to how much time they would need to cover them all. I don’t think it is necessary to leave room for more than 5 minutes of Q&A but I think it is crucial to cover your key points. And yes, it looks bad if you start to skip slides.

Benefits anyone?

It is funny how many presentations started off presenting the team, the awards they have garnered or went straight to the numbers. Hardly anyone started telling a story about why their startup matters. Let’s admit it: we all like to hear stories. Why? Because we learn a lot more about why your team is perfect for the task and how important your goals really are. In addition, you can draw a nice picture of why this matters to more than just you and where the benefit is for all the other users you want to attract.

A Neat Idea?

Surprisingly, it took some presenters a long time to get to the point about the phase their startup is currently in. Make sure you weld this into the story and let us know how long it is going to take you until you are ready to release it.

People

For a 7 minute pitch, I don’t really care about the team. You need to catch my attention by telling me about the purpose of your venture. I found it somewhat hard to understand the real value of your team, not being able to understand how each is able to contribute to the cause. Hence, letting me know what you want to do and then tell me how and with who you want to get there and how each individual’s experience is able to add leverage.

Rewards

Nor do I care about trophies or other rewards. I know it is great to show off what you achieved. But honestly, is this really what you’re in for? You might be wowing the jury, but do I remember who garnered what award even now, several hours after the event? No way. But I remember catchy visions (e.g. dwarfing Google or attracting the core gamers).

Fonts

Whatever you’re going to show, make sure everyone can read them–even in the last row. This is your opportunity to shine. It’s not a pitch book. So, concentrate on the main points.

After all, you should really be asking yourself what the audience is supposed to take away from those 15 minutes of air time. Just remember how many times you will do this and how many people will have a look at this–in the audience, on the web, and by word of mouth. I am sure that if you concentrate on transmitting a greater message than just the usual slides for investors, you might be able to make more of this event then just maybe just taking home another award.