The Journey of the Executive Summary and the PowerPoint Pitch Deck

12 May

By Dennis Ford, Founder & CEO, LSN

dennis-websitLSN Consulting has done a lot of branding and messaging for fundraising life science companies, and our mantra is “We echo to our clients what the investors tell us they want to see”.

Investors have explained to LSN what they want to see in an executive summary (ES) and a PowerPoint (PPT): They want the message to be netted out, in both of these formats. The investor does not want to guess what you are taking about. Investors tend to be very busy people, but if you can pique their initial interest, you will have plenty of opportunity to provide more information as the dialogue unfolds.

Unfortunately, many of our clients have to go through a learning curve due to getting poorly informed input from their friends and colleagues on what the messaging should be. Everybody has an opinion and everybody is an expert. This ‘too many cooks’ problem sometimes takes what should be a straightforward message and turns it into an elongated conversation about how to present who the firm is and what their product is.

An investor can receive as many as a 100 solicitations a week. Investors have become expert and skimming and looking for a trigger of interest, If that is not found, then quickly moving this solicitation off the table is the most expedient strategy.

An executive summary is typically no more than 2 pages, and a PowerPoint is 10-12 pages. Usually, they are sent together when you reach out for an initial introduction. Here are four main points we have learned regarding the ES and PPT.

1) Remember that all content has one purpose: to get the investor to decide if they want an initial meeting. When the meeting occurs, that’s when all the pertinent data comes out as a result of the ongoing discussion.

2) Some folks click on an executive summary and some click on the PowerPoint. Most investors have an innate preference for one or the other. Since you will have not a lot of info about the person you are reaching out to or what they will tend to choose, LSN recommends that you send out both.

3) The PowerPoint should essentially reflect what is in the executive summary, but in bullet form, with the addition of some more detailed information that shows the value-add of your firm and product.

4) The PowerPoint is a sales call on its own. It has to be able to stand alone completely on its own and be a sales pitch. The words take the place of your voice. The trick is to include enough words that the PPT is giving the pitch absent of you and your voice. If you were just giving the pitch to the investor yourself, all you would need would be a bunch of trigger bullets and not a lot of words, but this is not the case. Instead, the pitch is being read in your absence. The challenge is to be able to deliver the message with as few words as possible.

5) Remember it’s the investor’s first time reading. The investor will not have the full context for your company, and therefore some level of detail may be necessary. It’s a subtle balance, one not based on what you or we think, but what investors have told LSN about how they view a pitch deck.

In summary, please remember it’s about the buyer: a busy investor with cash to allocate. Keep in mind that they will do a quick scan of your deck and executive summary, and will need to see something that will impart enough interest that he/she will want to have a chat with you and your firm.

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