When They Pepper You With Questions…

I’m a little puzzled how irritated presenters become when they are peppered with questions by an investor audience.

The questions can, of course, be hostile, and I’ve fielded my share of those from the other side of the table.  No question, some entitled jerk sarcastically asking rhetorical questions about your venture is one of life’s more exquisite tortures.

But the irritation is common even when the questions are neutral, or even positive.  It’s not uncommon, at the end of a meeting where the investors pretty much got the idea of the venture and approved of it, for the entrepreneur to say something like, “well and we only got through 4 slides.”

Is the point to get through all the slides?

I thought the point was to get the point across, and the slides are a means to an end.

If so, then a bevy of questions from the audience just means that your slides aren’t doing a very good job of getting the point across.

I hate to be a pest, but a good clean introductory slide would go a long way toward bringing the audience on board (and hence, if my theory is correct, should damp down the # of questions).

And anything else that shows you understand the audience, know what they want to hear, and give it to them, will reduce the volume of questions.

To put it another way, the questions can tell you what your audience isn’t hearing:

  • Tell me about the fundamentals: I’m not hearing how this is a business rather than a neat idea.
  • Will it scale: How do you see exiting from this business, and how will I make money at it (See my “Fear and Greed” posting)
  • Isn’t <x> doing this already: I just heard about them and they are a) failing miserably or b) tearing up the turf.  What is your Hammacher Schlemer promise?

It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of a question session and feel like you are being interrogated.  And you are, in a way.

But in another way, questions are an attempt to get you to fill in context that’s missing from you pitch.  An attempt you should respect.

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