Nancy Duarte: Get Creative With Your Startup Presentations

March 17th, 2016   |    By: The Startups Team    |    Tags: Pitch Deck

Nancy Duarte is a pro when it comes to presentations. Not just giving presentations, but starting them, finishing them, and every step in between. Author and co-founder of Duarte Designs, Nancy Duarte is a seasoned veteran when it comes to incorporating storytelling into speaking and creating connections with an audience.

The below video is the fifth part in a series of 10 in which Nancy shares the key components to making a successful pitch using creativity and critical thinking. Find out what she has to say:

Nancy Duarte: Presentation Is Everything

Getting creative (and comfortable) with startup presentations

Back when startup presentations were nearly all slide-based, Nancy used to have a general rule-of-thumb: one slide would equal about two minutes of talking. This was a time when slides were essentially used as a teleprompter. If someone had 30 slides in a presentation, you would know their talk would last roughly an hour.

1. Times have changed.

Take a TED Talk Nancy once saw as an example: no visuals throughout the entire presentation up until the end when the audience was hit with a surprising statistic. Or a presentation Nancy gave herself, incorporating 180 slides into a 40-minute talk that was carefully crafted to make it seem like there were far fewer than 180.

“There is no right way,” Nancy shares.

Our last write-up of step four of Nancy’s talk discussed body language and how you have to be comfortable. How you use your presentation materials is no exception to this rule.

For a startup presentation to be effective, you have to physically react with your slides: clicking to advance, using a laser pointer, etc.

2. Be comfortable with your startup presentations

Nancy stresses comfortability with your slides. Construct your presentation in a way that fits you best.

“You need to be comfortable, if it means more words or less, more slides or less, it’s really about the best way to communicate your idea in your own skin.”

Don’t get hung up on using slides, though. They can be a distraction and minimize human interaction. Know what type of audience you’re going to have and take into account when considering the goal of your startup’s presentation.

Put yourself back in that small room of investors trying to convince them your startup is the one. Standing there and reading paragraphs off of a PowerPoint might not be your best route. With a small group, Nancy lets us know you can build and facilitate a conversation.

3. Printing it out leads to more substantial conversations

By printing out slide documents or summaries, distributing them, and giving those investors a few minutes to digest the information you’ll be able to have a more substantial conversation. According to Nancy, they can process your idea that way in about six minutes – far more efficient than an hour-long slideshow.

Still not convinced?

4. Let Nancy’s example help prove her point

The leader of the India division of a multinational-corporation needed to ask his CEO for $200 million needed for a project. He approached Nancy and her company, asking them to create four slides.

Duarte (Nancy’s company) didn’t think that was the best idea. A one-on-one meeting called for something more personal.

Instead they crafted a case: a story-arc comprised of personal anecdotes, facts, enthusiasm, and strategically-timed actions like drawing pictures on white boards. They took the information from the would-be slides and brought it to life.

After the meeting with his CEO, Duarte’s client called to let them know the startup presentation was nothing but a success and he was given the money he needed.

You may not be asking for $200 million right off the bat, but your initial startup pitches are pretty important to you. Follow Nancy’s advice and ditch the onslaught of PowerPoint slides – get comfortable and get creative.

About the Author

The Startups Team

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