Romania-born entrepreneur Diana Florescu is the CEO of and powerhouse behind mediaforgrowth (MFG), the first global network that brings together the interests of startups, investors, and experienced media professionals. However, she’s held various roles in the marketing and sales fields and has a ton of insights when it comes to pitch and investor decks, proposal presentations and delivery. We asked her to share some of them for The World of Presentations podcast.

In episode 112 of the podcast series 356labs Founder, Boris, chats with Diana about everything business presentation-related: the traps of standardisation of pitch decks, the missed opportunities when you don’t go the extra mile to really understand your audience, as well as some awesome techniques that help Diana come up with concise but effective presentations.

Listen to the episode tо find out the three boxes a pitch deck must tick in order to leave the audience hungry for details. Diana also shares her thoughts on the rising trend of podcasting monthly reports which could potentially be a game-changer for so many companies.

One of the best moments in this episode is Diana’s tips on how to make business proposals that really work. She herself admits how hard it is to create a powerful 10-pager that asks the right questions and offers a concrete solution. Short, relevant and actionable should be the three pillars of our proposal, our guest suggests.

You’ll also learn what SCQA is and how your presentation can be significantly improved by one largely disregarded trick.

Listen on for more inspiring words from Diana Florescu and maybe your next business presentation will hit just the right spot.


Diana can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you’re learning how to use advertising for your business, check out the mediaforgrowth website.

Watch the video

YouTube video


Boris Hristov
Hey there and welcome to another episode of The World of Presentations podcast, brought to you by us at Presentation Agency 356labs. Yes, there was a summer break for us from the podcast, but we are already back with at least one episode per month. All right, at least one! I’m Boris, your host for today’s episode.

And with me I have someone that I thought I had met in Romania before, but I just found out that we haven’t met in person yet. It was only an online conversation, but for some reason we believed that we, or at least I believed that we’d met before, which is interesting. And what really caught my attention back then, when we talked (I was about to say we met) with our guest was her crazy attention to detail.

When we met with Diana, she actually sent me an investor deck because back then she was working and running such an organisation that was doing a lot of work with startups and corporations, and that investor deck was done very, very, very well. It’s very rare to see someone doing a deck from the ground up without being a presentation expert or anything like that, with such attention to detail. And that truly impressed me.

So, who is obviously with me? Diana is someone that’s been involved a lot in the sales and the investor world, the startup world, in sales, marketing and so many things, she will let you know. All right. She will let you know. Very long intro. But we thought that it would be super great if we bring her here so that she can share her point of view on startup pitching, business proposals and everything else.

Diana, welcome to this podcast. I’m very sad that we didn’t meet.


Diana Florescu
Hi, Boris. Thank you so much for having me. And yeah, thanks for the kind words. I do remember our conversation about that investor deck very well. And I also realise that was a very long presentation. So maybe something not to do. I mean, we’ll discuss that today, but yeah, really great to be here. The summer is over, so everyone is back to work.

And I’m really glad I’m one of your first guests to kick off the new season, really excited.


Boris Hristov
Absolutely. This is episode 112 from the podcast series. But before we jump into your point of view in regard to decks and how to craft such an effective business proposal or investor deck, give us a little bit of intro about who you are and how you got involved in everything that you got involved in. Because back then you were doing so many things, and now you are very focused on what you just told me. Tell us a little bit more about your world.


Diana Florescu
Sure. So, I guess over the years I’ve kind of specialised in building and delivering different marketing and strategy programs for startups. I’ve worked with early-stage founders, from an idea stage all the way to IPO, but I work primarily with some of the world’s largest accelerators and conferences, as well as innovation consultancies in general.

UK was always my base and then from there I spent a bit of time in the US and the Middle East. But then the pandemic came in 2020 and that’s when I kind of felt the time was right, that I just wanted to experience what’s happening in Central and Eastern Europe. So I’ve worked a lot with startups for the past 18 months in the region.

I feel I acted like a sponge this entire time, just absorbing a lot of information. And I got to speak to hundreds of founders and worked with loads of them as well. Got to discuss challenges, maybe finding also opportunities when it comes to fundraising. And I got more and more involved in the world of investments, but always kept an eye on what’s happening with marketing because that’s my background.

So over the past nine months, I’ve actually been building something that will be announced very shortly, I think probably might be live by the time this episode goes live hopefully as well, which is what I call mediaforgrowth. It’s a global network of mediaforgrowth funds and media industry leaders. Our focus is to primarily align the interests of startups, investors and experienced media professionals.

It’s the product of spending super long evenings with over 30 mediaforgrowth funds, but most importantly, trying to understand some of the changes that need to happen in the venture capital industry. And I think we are at such an interesting, conflicting point right now in the market. I mean, the tech market is a bit shaky, everyone is thinking about growth, but not growth at all cost. I think startups are becoming a bit more cautious about spending. And I think it’s really important to try to diversify the venture capital industry and for founders to know there is another opportunity to raise money and grow your brand without having to necessarily cut back on costs.

So that’s what we’re trying to achieve with mediaforgrowth, and that’s what I’m going to be focusing on next.


Boris Hristov
Sounds really, really interesting, wishing you good luck. We will be supporting from afar or any way you want. Just let us know.

However, let’s go back to your previous job, previous at least back then when we talked, I feel like it was three years ago or something. And as you just mentioned, you were in touch and you currently are still very much involved in the startup world talking with a lot of founders, etc… What is, in your opinion, the importance of, whenever you talk about startups and based on your experience in the last few years, the importance of the presentations that those people are creating, the importance of all the pitch decks, the investor decks. How important are they really for those starting companies?


Diana Florescu
I think a presentation is almost like your business card. Of course, it’s different for everybody and every context is different and you have to tailor it to your audience. But if you think about it, what happened over the last 24 months during COVID, that really sort of pushed us in rethinking the way we want to approach business and having to change the way we present ourselves to meet the new market conditions.

So I’ve easily gone through hundreds of pitch checks again simply by being involved in different organisations. I think if I was to compare probably two different perspectives like the West and what we have more Central and Eastern Europe, I feel that in promoting in the UK or the US, there is a huge focus articulating the commercial side of the business, being extremely numbers-savvy and being good at emphasising the value proposition. While here in Europe, primarily because we have such great tech talent, the conversation goes into a direction of technology and extremely detailed product information, and it’s always lacking that sort of business acumen, commercial side. If I were to compare at a high level, of course we can’t generalize. But the pitch deck we talked about just before we started, I feel this is kind of our fault. Investors, startup operators, accelerators – we standardize the heck out of this. Every investor would expect you to have a problem-solution business model, here’s how we’re going to make money, team and the infamous traction. And I think that’s fine. But up to a point. The thing is that no matter how much you try to standardise these pitch decks, you have to try to tailor it to the stage in which you’re at as a startup founder.

For me, a pitch deck has to answer three things, I guess. So. Is your business viable, feasible and desirable? So, what I mean by feasible? Do you have the resources, the money, the expertise to build what you’re trying to build? Is this viable? Are you building a technology that currently exists or can be used in present times, or you’re trying to have like a ten-year moonshot idea?

And then finally desirable. Is anyone buying this or does anyone want what you’re trying to sell? And then in terms of how you structure this in your presentation, I think you need to be a bit more creative than just the usual structure that everyone expects to see. And you should play that in your advantage.

So a practical example: I think if you’re in an early-stage company with not so much to show when it comes to traction or numbers, but you have really great people, perhaps Google, Microsoft, Apple in your team, that would be the first line that I would start with, as opposed to just going straight into a problem and then solution and then a product (or just a product type).  That would be my two cents.


Boris Hristov
I feel like this is really true, especially for startups. I think that this standardisation and even the flow –which comes first, which comes second –just went a little bit too far and every single presentation is the same. I would say that back then we had a case with a startup from the blockchain space that was doing blockchain for the aviation industry. It’s actually a case study on our website, it’s called 500 Labs. So we broke that way of thinking. We still presented more or less the same, but we kind of approached it from a different angle, if you wish. And I think that this was one of the reasons why this company ended up getting the investment from a company like Lufthansa.

So hopefully more founders will hear that there is a pre-defined structure that your potential investor likes, or expects, but it’s not the only right one. It’s not the only thing you can do. And I like what you said about “hey, let’s get a little bit more creative here and use it to your own advantage”. Because I think there is a lot of space to do that for sure.


Diana Florescu
And I like what you said, your example with the corporate partner (12:40). I mean, the rise of CVC’s in Europe, is pretty incredible over the last decade. And that’s a completely different type of investor. I think approaching an early-stage VC versus a corporate venture capital funds that primarily invest in strategic ideas that would complement their technology, it’s a completely different approach. I would actually think of that presentation more as a strategic proposal as opposed to a traditional pitch deck. So I think you have to have in mind who is it that is going to read your presentation and also the kind of content that you create and how it’s going to be presented. Is it meant to be read or are you going to present it live…


Boris Hristov
Yeah. Oh well, that changes things dramatically because if you’re going to be sending it over email, it could be way more detailed. It needs to be self-sufficient as we like to say. Right. Because you as the founder or as the founders won’t be there to present it.

But what I’m hearing you saying is that yet again, over and over again, in one way or the other, we always end up talking about the importance of understanding who your audience is. Truly, truly understanding.

And I believe that a lot of startups are and not only startups, to be very honest, also a lot of people in the corporate world don’t really spend the needed time to truly understand who their audience is, what their needs are, and everything else that they need to take into consideration when they’re building a presentation. And that’s such a missed opportunity.

I don’t know what’s your feeling about it, but it’s such a missed opportunity. If you just spend one hour trying to brainstorm who those people are when people normally are making their presentations the hour before the meeting, which is already late. Yeah. You could have done so much more. So much more!

Anyway, we decided to switch gears and not talk about startup pitches that much because there’s just so much content around it. But that part with the standardization I think is really on point. I’m not sure if it’s only for startup pitches. You are making me think hard right now –did we standardise any other presentation? I would say, by the way, that the other type of standardisation that is done in a way in the corporate world, is monthly or quarterly reporting.


Diana Florescu
Yeah, absolutely. But I guess it’s little bit different. I can understand the need for that, especially when you’re dealing with, I don’t know, 5000 people or 10,000 people, or more than that in your organisation. In fact, what I’ve seen and I found this actually in a previous company, what I would change is not, say, the structure of the report but how you would communicate those internal updates. And I’ve seen a lot of organisations trying to use internal podcasting. (Speaking of podcast).

Boris Hristov
Wow. Interesting.

Diana Florescu
Yeah. Especially between different offices, just to send across updates and make them more digestible and fun for people to listen to. I mean, I’ve seen so many people and I’ve heard so many people that completely missed out on different region updates just because the span of attention is so short. And as you said, they are standardised.

So yeah, podcasts. Actually internal podcasts are a trend that I’ve seen lately.


Boris Hristov
Oh, that’s interesting. It kind of brings me to a recent thing that I was also exploring and seeing how some platforms are moving and the direction that they are moving with asynchronous communication, especially in this hybrid world. And all of them are bringing this video type of thing into the presentation world so that you can create a presentation that’s a video, upload it, and then everyone can see it at their own time, on their device, whatever, but they don’t have to be in that meeting anymore because of time zones, restrictions or whatever it might be. But podcasting, internal podcasting, audio only, right? No visuals of your own?


Diana Florescu
Yeah, that’s cool. Just go with the basics. Just keep it simple. I mean they had a clear purpose in mind in tackling with your problem. How am I going to get so many people to actually follow really important company updates and they are not missed? And that was through podcast. And everything was internal. Obviously, they were not published on external channels. And it worked. I mean, people were listening in and clearly, they were reacting, which…. Yeah.


Boris Hristov
By the way, if you are someone that’s on a management position and you are listening to this one, maybe, just maybe, that will be that idea that will get you to another level of promotion. But just maybe and that’s what I’m thinking about right now, what you’re saying.

Because I had that conversation like three or four months ago with someone at a very high-level position at a company called Bosch. And he was complaining about this type of reporting of data and progress on things. And we just spent like 30 minutes after a training that I delivered for his team, only with him just brainstorming out loud and just thinking out loud why and how they can change it. And again, we were like, Hey, at some point someone needs to do something about it, you know, why wouldn’t that be? You know, someone has to say it out loud. This doesn’t work. Let’s find another solution.

So anyway, business proposals, let’s focus on business proposals. Let’s talk a little bit more about how do we propose to our customers, let’s say our products, how do we sell a product or a service to our customer? Because we still need to present it. It’s not a pitch deck anymore. It’s not an investor deck anymore. It’s a completely different thing. What are your thoughts there? Because I don’t feel like there is that much written on that part. So, what are your thoughts on effective business proposals?


Diana Florescu
Sure. I mean, I think over the past few years, I’ve written so many different business proposals for different organisations, from government agencies to large corporations… I had to force myself to come up with some kind of framework or always try to iterate and find a better way to send that message across.

The problem, I mean, just starting with the problem, is obviously following a structured approach, the same as with pitch decks that have to solve a problem. I also have the tendency to overwrite and I think that’s a general problem that I see in most proposals. Everyone is trying to kind of overjustify and we have the preconception that the more information we add, the better people can scheme through it, they can choose whatever is relevant for them. “Let’s just do it as much as possible”. And it’s overwhelming. I mean, the span of attention is so short and that was a problem that I had. I realised that myself. I had to force myself to find a structure when it comes to this business proposals, which reminds me of what Winston Churchill said once, which is that if I actually had time to write you a letter, I would have drafted a short one, not a long one.

And that’s because to make things more concise is harder. There’s, I guess, three things that I usually do, personally, to help me channel my train of thoughts and put them together. The first one is something that we already touched on, but I feel like it can’t be stressed enough, which is thinking about who is actually going to read or who’s going to be the person receiving your proposal. And I would go as detailed as possible when it comes to that person. Try to even have a real person in mind, try to give them a name, try to think of their habits, try to understand where they hang out, what kind of content they like. And then when it comes to enterprise sales or you’re dealing with large organisations, I think to understand their role in the decision-making process is so crucial.

What I mean by this is, I don’t know, is Joe, for example, an influencer in the decision-making process, is he a user of your solution that you’re trying to sell or is he a decision maker? Because these three people or these three functions or roles would play a completely different role in the decision making. And I think that is super important when you try to structure your information.

The second thing I would think about is what do you want to achieve with this business proposal? Sometimes, of course, it’s about a sell, but sometimes it can be that you want your user to take an action. It could be that you just simply want that proposal to be advanced further to the senior management. But any presentation…


Boris Hristov
The end goal of it is to be so compelling that the person that receives it says to himself or herself, wait a minute, I need to forward this.


Diana Florescu
Yeah, I basically need to create almost like internal kind of cheerleaders for yourself.

But I think any presentation has to be these three things. It has. It has to be short, it has to be relevant, and it has to be actionable. Short for example, I don’t think there is a kind of a universally acknowledged presentation length, but no one wants to read a hundred pages, especially one that is not about them.

I tend to use the pyramid principle when I write proposals, but also when I create websites or landing pages. What that means, I usually say the most important things at the beginning. That could be, for example, why this is super important for that person to read it, why now, and then put all the things that are supportive at the bottom, meaning here’s everything that I’ve done that would add credibility, here’s references, here’s for example, case studies and so on. But I would include that. I usually include any section About us as a company at the very end. A lot of proposals usually start Here’s our company, here’s what we do. I don’t care about that. How do I…

Boris Hristov

Diana Florescu
And it’s usually the case. I’ve made the mistakes so many different times. And it’s usually somewhere at the end of the proposal, that “Here’s our offer, here’s what we can do together”.

But if I were to speak about a general length, it would probably be within maybe 10-15 pages when it comes to a business corporate proposal. It has to be relevant again, trying to articulate timely seasons or seasonal factors. Why is this important now – it’s super relevant if you can. And actionable. Obviously make the asks super clear, but also try not to put burden on the customer by making them guess what should be the next step? Should we have a conversation? Should we discuss budgets? So these three things I would say that are super, super important.


If I can add another framework. I usually use is some kind of framework, which is related to a Situation, Complication, Question and Answer. So there’s basically four letters there – SCQA. Unfortunately, there’s not a nice word that could come out of this. I always use that when I try to structure any speech or presentation.

So, the situation is obvious. This is the overall situation market you are facing, which also shows that you’ve done your research, you’ve done your homework, you know the industry. The complication is super relevant because that also kind of creates sometimes not necessarily fear, but tension. Realising, okay, well, I know I’m facing it, it’s almost regurgitating that I know I’m facing these challenges and I’m seeing them right in front of me. This is something that is happening, that changes the situation, of course, and makes it either better or worse.

And then the question is, this change makes it either harder for you or it can raise an opportunity for you. And in that question slide if you like, or section, try to be as precise as possible. Like for example, I don’t know if you are doing the presentation to a corporate partner, perhaps try to quantify the loss that they would be facing, for example, if not going for a solution A. Or if you want to be more optimistic, try to quantify the win, right? If you were to explore, let’s say, this startup partnership, where if you want to develop a proof of concept with this company, this could save you X amount in cost or it could provide you X million in revenue. Try to be as precise as possible.

And then the answer here is obviously the best way for us to make it happen. The last point is obviously how this content will be presented. And I think there’s one more thing as well, Boris. It’s so important whether this is going to be sent and you’re expecting someone to read it or you’re presenting this. And it’s not just about the visual cues which are of course relevant. It’s about small things. Like I always have a trick and I’m trying to show this to my team as well. Every heading in my slides is telling a story, so they have to summarise what they see on the slides. If you actually read through just the headings of your presentation without having a look at anything in your slides, it has to say ‘narrative’. It has to flow nicely. It’s almost like doing a voiceover. So that’s something that I do and it’s not easy. I think it’s way harder than just putting a bunch of things on the slide, but it does make a difference.

Boris Hristov
Yeah, I, because we’re already 27 minutes in, I like everything that you said, I think everyone can go back and just re-listen again, because there are so many important things that you mentioned about the audience, the types of decision for the person and the role. And when you said, hey, is this person an influencer inside of the organisation? Is he or she the decision maker? Or are they, let’s say, a person who is going to be asked what think about a specific technology, for example? Just that by itself changes the words in the things that you are going to present in such a dramatic way. It’s scary to even think about it.

But that last tip that you just gave, the insight about titles that tell a story by themselves. When you just read the titles from the deck across the whole presentation, they build this cohesive story. I have pushed so many organisations in that direction and every single time when they see it, they are like, Wow, that is such a simple fix because it’s just a text box, you know? It’s not like it’s not related to visuals, where many people are not designers and cannot come up with visuals. But that’s such an easy fix to do. Of course, easier said than done because once you try to go through all of your slides, write the titles in such a way that they build this cohesive story.

I always like to say to my team, if I copy paste only the titles in a Word, would that make sense? Like if I’m going to read a story or is it just an agenda?


Diana Florescu


Boris Hristov
Because we are currently building our books for the Conference – agenda, speakers, sessions. Is that the title? Because I don’t get it right now. If we can reword that, it makes such, such a difference. Oh, my God.

All right. Almost 30 minutes in, where can people connect with you? What is the best way for them to find you, reach out, chat? What is the place?


Diana Florescu
Probably LinkedIn. Just type in Diana Florescu and I’m there. Obviously on mediaforgrowth. Especially if you are a founder that is looking to fundraise and you’re interested in learning more about how to use advertising in your business. And then on Twitter as well. I’m trying to build that Twitter profile, unfortunately not focused too much on it these days. But Twitter, too.


Boris Hristov
Right, we’re going to make sure that we link absolutely everything in the show notes or in the YouTube description. So, everyone, please make sure that I reach out to Diana if you have any questions or if you’re one of those startups. And yeah, this is 30 minutes. I’m just scared how quickly those 30 minutes pass by. Hopefully that is the same for everyone that’s listening, watching this on YouTube or whatever they may be doing.

Diana, thank you so much for joining. That was super, super nice and I believe it was extremely practical. Now you just have to think about it and t it’s like, wait a minute, I can apply this, you know, I can do this in my own speech or business proposal, whatever. I’m already hitting the desk. So it’s also practical.

Thank you so much for joining everyone. Hope, I’m sure, I’m not hoping, I’m sure that you enjoyed this conversation with Diana. If you enjoyed it, reach out to her, put your favourite moment in the chat, or if you haven’t subscribed yet to the podcast, do that. Do whatever you want after an episode like that, do whatever you want. All right. You have complete freedom. And if you, by the way, still don’t know about the conference that I just mentioned, Diana, by the way, it’s coming on 28 April, 2023. We have to bring you here in Sofia. I don’t know how that’s going to happen, but we will make it. We’ll try to make it happen.

Thank you so much, everyone, for listening. We’re sure that you enjoyed it and see you in the next one.

Diana Florescu
Thank you.

Boris Hristov

Boris Hristov is the Founder of Presentation Agency 356labs and Present to Succeed Conference. He's a LinkedIn Learning & Pluralsight instructor, Microsoft MVP, and a top-rated international speaker who has delivered presentations in over 25 countries.

Boris is consulting and training companies like KPMG, Publicis, Roche, UniCredit, Renault, and many others in presentation skills, storytelling, and the psychology behind slide design. Together with 356labs he's standing behind presentations that closed multimillion-dollar deals, got startup investment from people like Bill Clinton, and changed the strategic directions of organisations whose products the world uses daily.