Lyft's highly-anticipated IPO roadshow kicked off this week, as company executives attempt to convince investors that it's worth $23 billion.

The banks that underwrite IPOs have a lot at stake in roadshow presentations because major hedge fund and mutual fund investors are sitting in the audience, waiting to be persuaded. Although I wasn't involved in Lyft's IPO presentation, I have been involved in several IPO presentations as a communication consultant and I can tell that Lyft put a lot of time and thought into it.

Lyft's 24-minute presentation contains five communication strategies that are effective for anyone presenting information about a company, product, or service. 

1. Start with the inspiration behind the product.

There's plenty of time to explain the product. A more meaningful connection with the audience should be made at the start of the presentation by explaining why the product exists.

Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer start the presentation with a back story--what inspired them. "When I went to college, I ditched my car and I challenged myself to get around with a mix of carpooling and public transit," Green begins. "That led me to launch the university's first car-sharing program." Green also learned how "broken" the transportation sector has become.

Zimmer was studying hotel management. He learned about occupancy rates, a key metric in the hotel business. "Cars are occupied only 5 percent of the time. The other 95 percent of the time they're just sitting there. If you have a hotel with a 5 percent occupancy rate, you have a failing business."

Both entrepreneurs decided to combine their experiences to build a startup that addresses the need they perceived.

2. Frame the opportunity.

Journalists call Lyft a "ride-hailing company," yet those words are not mentioned in the presentation. The two co-founders say they've pioneered "On demand, peer-to-peer ride sharing." 

Don't let others frame your message. Describe your company the way you designed it to be. Lyft's co-founders also set the stage for how large the opportunity is. According to Zimmer and Logan:

"We have an opportunity ahead of us to deliver the largest shift to society since the invention of the car," and "Lyft addresses one of the largest market opportunities of our lifetime: a shift from car ownership to transportation as a service."

3. Create simple lists.

People love lists. That's why magazine covers promise six ways to get killer abs, etc. In presentations, lists make information easy to follow and give audiences a roadmap of what's to come. The Lyft IPO presentation contains several lists.

The first list is the five key reasons why Lyft is a good investment. Zimmer delivers the list using parallel structure (the sentences start the same way). He says:

  1. We are founder led.
  2. We have one of the largest and fastest growing multi-modal transportation networks.
  3. We are solely focused on consumer transportation. Not food. Not trucking.
  4. We have a strong brand based on our strong values.
  5. And we have the right autonomous strategy.

Don't make your lists too long. Lists of three to five points work best in presentations.

4. Focus on key metrics.

While the first three strategies set the stage, investors come to hear the numbers. The Lyft presentation explains the explosive growth in revenue and the number of riders and drivers. But it also adds perspective around key numbers. 

For example, Lyft chief marketing officer Joy Howard says, "Transportation is a massive market." How massive? "Every year in the United States, consumers spend more than $1.2 trillion dollars on transportation. That's almost twice as large as health care, three times as large as entertainment, and second only to housing."

By comparing the statistic to other industries investors are familiar with, Howard helps the audience to visualize the size of the opportunity.

5. Make it simple.

Simple design hides complexity. Katie Dill, Lyft's vice president of design, says "Our app's simplicity is its greatest feature."

In just 10 seconds, Dill explains how it works. "The app opens. You choose your destination. Next, you choose how you want to get there. Confirm your pickup spot. The ride comes. Payment is all on the app." 

If you're going to call your product simple, explain it simply. 

IPO roadshows are all about persuasion. Take these tips from Lyft's presentation to bring your pitch to the next level. 

Published on: Mar 20, 2019