Do’s and Don’t of presentations



I saw twenty presentations at VMS Demo Day yesterday and picked up a few presentation do’s and don’ts. On the whole the 5-minute presentations were excellent. The two-day pitch scrubs obviously resulted in vastly improved pitches.


Use analogies in your presentations. Perch, a system for weight training, used an analogy between running and strength training. Analogies help your audience understand what you are doing that’s new by comparing it to something that they are already familiar with.

Put your email on each slide’s footer, again this was done by Perch, Jacob Rothman’s presentation was outstanding. This helps members of the audience who may have to leave before having a chance to speak with you a way to get in touch.

Do use professional quality photographs of your product in use. Captions overlaying the photos are very effective. Kudos to Perch yet again.

Use humor, but sparingly. This can be very effective when you are one of many presenters at a pitch event like a demo day. Lumo got a laugh from the slide which presented the problem they were solving, which was a great way to engage the audience from the get-go.

Use the build function of your software instead of cramming too much information onto any one slide. Several presenters used builds very effectively, including Perch, who did an excellent job of illustrating their product in use.

Use diagrams to illustrate your place in your product’s value chain.


Use lots of acronyms! Several presenters used market-specific acronyms. If you must use an acronym, make sure you spell it out on first use.

Don’t put page numbers and the date on all your slides. This is very helpful when you are presenting to advisors and mentors, but it isn’t necessary when presenting to investors; it’s just another instance of when information becomes noise.

Use just your first name when introducing yourself. It’s too informal for a formal event like a demo day.

Wander away from the podium’s microphone. If you present better when moving around take the mic off it’s stand and use it as a hand-held. Demo Day had an excellent sound system, but if you are “off mic” you won’t be heard as well.

Don’t put a “Confidential” on each slide when you are presenting in a public forum like demo day. Just more slide footer noise that takes away from your message.

I was impressed by several of the medical device companies’ presentations, which did a fine job of explaining a technical product to a lay audience. That’s not easy. Leuko, Coagulo Medical Technologies, Inc., and Ventriflo True Pulse Pumps all delivered very effective presentations solving complex problems.


Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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