Watching IPO road shows is an excellent way to improve your presentations because every word, story and slide is crafted for maximum impact. If you're building a business presentation for investors or customers, Uber's IPO pitch is one worth studying in particular.

This week, Uber executives are hitting the road to convince major investors to back its upcoming IPO, where the stock begins trading for the first time. The 30-minute presentation relies on an advanced method of storytelling-- advanced because it's a strategy used in filmmaking, but largely unknown among average business communicators. It's powerful and, best of all, simple to do.

Here's how it works in two simple steps: 

1. Establish the big picture.

In filmmaking 101, students learn about different camera angles. Although there are dozens of angles, the two basic ones are aerial views and close-ups. As its name implies, an aerial view is a wide shot from an elevated perspective. A close-up zooms in on one of the characters. It's the most important angle to create emotion.

A persuasive presentation takes the same approach. The first few slides provide an aerial view of the landscape (the industry or market) while the close-up slides focus on characters that bring emotion to the story. These 'characters' are actual customers or employees.  

For example, in the first two minutes of the Uber IPO presentation, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explains that the ride-hailing company has a massive network of tens of millions of drivers in 700 cities around the world. Since 2015, they've earned a combined $78 billion on the platform.

For seriously big numbers, an aerial view is best. In the Uber presentation, the statistics are displayed as text over photos of cities and passenger cars. It establishes the setting and provides critical information, but it's not emotional. For that, they have to move in for a close up. 

2. Create emotion with the close-up.

After Khosrowshahi delivers the big numbers, the next slide contains a short video. It's filmed from inside a car where we see a driver say:

"I was in the military. I served as a military policeman. I'm 74. Where am I going to find a job? Uber is an excellent opportunity and I do it almost every day. I'm Jim Evans and I'm a proud Uber partner."

The close-up is the focus on an actual employee. It provides the emotional context necessary for a memorable presentation. Statistics inform, stories connect.

Uber carries this method throughout the presentation. For example, about 13 minutes into the presentation, executive Lior Ron introduces Uber Freight, a service that matches truckers and shippers. 

As Ron explains the problem of a "fragmented and inefficient" shipping market, we see photos of highways and trucks shot from above-- aerial shots. Next comes the close-up which is in the form of another short video. This time we hear from Frank Lovell, a truck driver.

"Since 1989, I think I've driven over 3 million miles. The hardest part of the job was being away from the family. Last year for the holidays, I couldn't get back and to see my son before he left to go back to college. That's one of the biggest things I regret in life, not being there for all those moments."

Lovell explains that since he started using the Uber Freight app, he can drop off a shipment and find another one that takes him home, all at the touch of a button. As Lovell finishes his story, we see him surrounded by smiling family members celebrating his birthday.

The next time your presentation involves big numbers and statistics, think about how a film director would approach the scene. First, establish the setting with the big picture. Second, zoom in to show how your product or service benefits real people. 

Published on: Apr 30, 2019
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