Your Feature Presentation

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The old saying about slide presentations is that they're never finished; entrepreneurs simply run out of time. Nothing could be more true. The amount of time spent dithering over slide presentations is almost incalculable and rarely productive. The reality of raising money is that the slides don't sell the deal. The persuasive and compelling manner in which the presentation is made sells the deal.

Slide presentations are a necessary evil, but keep in mind the following pointers the next time you go out to meet with investors:

Think billboards, not books. Slides should be sparse, not crowded. Remember, they're only there to keep the audience on track.

Go easy. In most cases, one slide per minute, or 20 slides for a typical presentation, is about the maximum you should try to squeeze in. Optimum: 10 to 15.

Make handouts from your slides. Some public-speaking pros say never put anything into the hands of the audience that will distract them from the speaker-a notion not without merit. However, most hard-core investors will ask for handouts and often use them to take notes, so it's better to be prepared than to be caught empty-handed.

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Your Feature Presentation.

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