1. Boring. Even though the market’s needs and your solutions aren’t boring, bring them to life through stories that resonate, rather than by merely recounting “facts.” Tell us about people with passion and intelligence, great ideas, interesting beginnings, how and why you jumped in, and how the world gets better as your business grows.
2. Financials without assumptions. It’s clearly stated assumptions that make financial projections interesting or compelling. Bring them to life with pictures, people, stories, and prospects. Numbers by themselves are just numbers. Explain what makes your numbers fascinating. Do some research, and find out how others liven up their business presentations.
3. Slides full of words. If you’re using slides in any part of your presentation, don’t fill them with words. Use slides to depict what you’re saying. When you read off a slide you lose your audience.
4. Buzzwords. Don’t use trendy buzzwords like “cutting edge” or “viral.” Being trendy in word choice diminishes your uniqueness and detracts from your substance. Plus, it makes you look like you think being trendy is important … which it’s not.
5. Complicated Numbers. Enable your readers to judge your projections for realism and credibility. All they need is sales, costs, expenses, cash flow, and other basic numbers. Complicated analyses like internal rates of return, net present value, and discounted cash flow may make you look like you got A’s in business school, but your investor needs realistic and very clear numbers based on solid and well-presented assumptions. If they want an IRR they’ll do it themselves, or ask you for it.
6. And the market is “t h i s b i g.” Attempting to validate your prospective sales by talking about the vast multi-billion dollar market and how big your slice will be falls flat. It’s best to validate your sales from the bottom up—by illustrating the merit and accuracy of your assumptions.
7. Bluster. Be clear about uncertainties and what you don’t know. Don’t bluff prospective investors.
8. Flowery Adjectives. Just tell the essentials of your story (what you have, how you got where you are, where you’re going, and how you’re getting there), and let your reader decide the adjectives. If you call it “great” or “disruptive” the investor thinks you’re puffing and becomes a skeptic.