Road Show Wisdom

September 1999

Dear Colleagues and Clients,

What’s your ante when making a presentation? A little tension, a night of lost sleep or–millions of dollars? And the payoff? Are you getting the best results? Whether the impact of your presentation is large or small, the following thoughts can be valuable:


Road show jockeys, people raising angel, venture or IPO money, have more in common with the work-horse, corporate presentations delivered daily than many realize. Why? For one thing, the typical reaction to both is “dull and difficult to understand”.

It’s true, the road show jockey is generally on a “mission”, more so than the average corporate presenter. With a high-stakes race to be won, the economic and personal stakes are high. Yet, common blunders delay or even prevent competitive and qualified people from arriving at the finish line winners.

What are a few key ideas that cause people to run off track and send communication mis-signals costing millions of dollars? Here are five common errors and solutions. These are as true for everyday presentations as for the truly high stakes events.


Many jokes are made among entrepreneurs about the implacability of venture capitalists and others who invest. It’s true: This can be a tough crowd. Regardless of the audience’s financial sophistication, when it comes to your story, they are virgins. Tell your story so the audience can envision and understand, or you will not raise a cent.

Solution: Deliver a draft of the presentation to virgin ears by arranging formal or informal focus groups and make adjustments accordingly.


This is the result of a confused “story line” that only you and your insiders understand. Your information must be focused through the mind’s eye of the target audience, or you will fall short of your goals. To avoid wigged-out information and align with the audience’s real needs, you must first ask how you want them to feel about your company at the end of your presentation.

Solution: Determine how you want your audience to feel at the end of your road show, the exact feeling word. Write it in bold letters to keep in front of you as you work on your presentation.


One entrepreneur’s strategy was to overwhelm potential investors with complexity. That way, he reasoned, they’d “see how important the company was.” Oh dear. It doesn’t work this way. Most speakers inadvertently create complexity.

Solution: Use analogy and metaphor to create simplicity and overview key concepts. Once the audience has a base understanding, you can layer levels of detail to complete the picture.


Talking heads distance investors and create complacency. Every target audience is secretly praying the next speaker will be succinct, authentic and viable. Most of the time, speakers are so detached from the audience and residing so deeply in their own internal reality, they rattle on as if they were talking to themselves. The investors literally can’t decipher the true message. (And since they don’t want to tell you that, they pick some obscure aspect of your business plan to reject.)

Solution: Bring your personality to the table and speak conversationally! Practice ahead of time and avoid reading.


Sun Microsystems’ President directed company employees to stop using visual aids. The Wall Street Journal reported IBM’s CEO, Lou Gertsner saying, “More than three overheads, and you will be excused.” These intelligent leaders understand the abuse of visual aids is the communication tragedy of this decade. Rather than prevent confusion, they create it and cause decision-making havoc.

Solution: Minimize the use of your slides and overheads. Stop using them as your notes.

Remember, even sophisticated investors cross their fingers, hoping you will be “the one” they can believe in, the person with the idea that will reap a reasonable return on investment. They are looking for opportunities. They are looking for winners. Don’t disappoint them.

Follow these guidelines, and make it easy for them to bet on you!

The Essence of Communication

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did… But people will never forget How you made them feel.

These are just a few tips. Please call 214.696.3510 and learn more about road shows, executive coaching, management consulting or keynote speeches offered. Let me assist you in positioning your message. Also, fax 214.891.9799 your name and address, and I’ll send you a worksheet helpful in preparing for any presentation. Check out our web site or email me at with your questions or comments.

Thank you for the incredible referrals and business this last quarter!

Until next time,

Alex B. Ramsey
President, LodeStar Universal

P.S. This letter is designed to present thoughts and ideas relevant to better communication and leadership. To be removed from the mailing, please call immediately. – If you know others who will benefit from these services, please pass along this information.