15 Presentation Tips For Startups

Nerd Stalker has the honor of being a longtime media partner for SF New Tech and during that time we have seen many a startup present. Sure there have been a few flops but for the most part we’ve been blown away by great demos.

Increasingly startups are approaching us asking how best to present for the format. I finally got around to writing some observations on what seems to work vs. what (in my opinion) does not. Although this is specific to the 5 minute SF New Tech format, we think that some of this can apply across the board. We hope some of you entrepreneurs who take the brave leap to present can gain some value from this post.

  1. Be warned if your not the first presenter, chances are your going to swap in a laptop, ipad or some device to an external display. This tends to work quickly about 70% of the time so try to nail it. Make sure your battery is fully charged and bring your own dongle(s) you'd be amazed how many presenters miss these basic steps.

  1. If your relying on a network connection and are not getting any love make sure to have something loaded locally or externally via usb or something, you MUST hit the ground running.

  1. HAVE A DRIVER, this means have someone dedicated to speaking to the audience and someone dedicated to manning your demo (slides, app, whatever). The fewer things you have to worry about the better.

  1. Communication skills are a must, I know your the founder/creator, are brilliant and have deep technical knowledge of your solution but if you can take (or even Google) “media training” it may be worth your time to cram some tips (or just keep reading).

  1. Things like how/where to hold a mic, adjust a mic stand, don’t walk in front of a speaker with a “live” mic, adjusting the volume of your voice, and vocal inflections are just some things to be aware of. Don't walk out of the spotlight, you are on a live stream with lots of viewers they last thing they want is to be staring into darkness.

  1. Don’t use your tiny home display resolution, everything has to be big, you want your audience in the back to see everything clearly.

  1. Always face the audience, another mistake I've seen is the presenter speaking to the slides and not the audience. The last thing we want to watch is you stare at your laptop or your back for 5 minutes while you point at the screen.

  1. I know it’s not politically correct but i’m just going to come out and say it, accents can be hard to understand. The thicker the accent the more difficult it can be for the audience to follow and lets face it, the goal of your demo is to win the audience so try to make it as easy for them to “buy in” to your pitch as possible.

  1. Never ever never ever ever never read your script on stage ever.

  1. On the flip side be careful not to come off too polished, this also applies if you hire or have a professional pr type, we want you to come off as human and not as a grifter (Lyle Lanley). If you do bring in a pro make sure they really know your app and if not, make sure they defer questions to the proper person as this is a technically savvy audience.

  1. Talk about your app/solution, I shit you not I once saw a startup talk to a long multi bullet powerpoint presentation as they did a friggin unrelated card trick for 97% of the demo time before we even got to see the app! To this day I don’t even remember what the app looked like or did.

  1. Don’t bother asking the audience questions during your demo, frankly it just eats up too much of your precious 5 minute demo time.

  1. Practice finishing your demo in 3 to 4 minutes, 5 minutes goes faster then 5 minutes in front of a crowd (TM Adolfo’s law).

  1. During Q&A don’t start every answer with, “That’s a great question!...”, this just screams insincere.

  1. (Bonus Points) Give swag out, lots of it, throwing shirts out is great and to a lesser extent so are stickers, people love free stuff. Do this at the beginning and/or end of your presentation but not during.
Adolfo Foronda


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