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I’ve discussed the importance of building rapport right off the bat. Talk about people and places you have in common—schools, other investors or prominent business people, growing up in the same state, or what have you. The homework you did before you arrived will again prove invaluable; it will provide you with something to better connect you to the people who may become investors in your business. As for understanding your audience, it’s possible that you’ll be thrown a curve ball. It is not unusual, for example, to be introduced to new people that you were not expecting to meet. It could be another potential investor, or it might be someone like a junior partner or the firm’s Entrepreneur in Residence (many venture capital firms have an EIR). Often, junior people that join the investor are golden guys/gals-in-waiting, and they are the ones that perform most of the due diligence on your deal. If they are at the meeting, take that as a good sign, since investors do not bring colleagues to deals they don’t like.


Take the time to memorize their names (it’s best to write them down—stress has a way of messing with your memory) and obtain brief information on their background. Try to understand why they were asked to participate and what their role might be going forward. This will help you with including them in your interactions, as well as with appropriately tailoring your remarks and questions. After a minute or so of introductions, the investor’s body language will tell you when they are ready to look at your presentation. Generally, the more time they spend engaged with you before the show starts, the better. Don’t rush. Some investors will quickly engage you with rapid-fire questions, even before you get started. Stay in control of the presentation and politely indicate that you will cover those points as you go forward.


You should also state that you will present a brief overview of your firm by presenting a few slides, and that you will allow adequate time for a Q&A.