Strong pitch decks are crucial when you’re seeking funding. They can make or break your credibility and ultimately determine whether investors will buy into your idea.
A poorly executed deck can mean investors and VC firms fail to understand you, your business, or your place in the market. Even worse, they may lose interest halfway through your pitch. For start ups, simply put, a pitch deck may make or break your ability to have your company get off the ground.
When it comes to building your deck there are some common-sense rules that teachers, mentors, and well-meaning strangers have given us along the way: keep your slides simple, make the font a readable size, design slides that are visually appealing, and craft a story.
What if besides these basic guidelines, you could make a pitch deck that not only wows your audience, but also makes your job as a presenter easier? Here’s 10 ways to do just that:
1. Go with the Flow
When you need to describe a multi-step process, timeline, or sequenced plan, clear up confusion while simultaneously simplifying your slide with a simple yet comprehensive flow chart.
Your flow chart doesn’t need to be fancy. You can make a fairly simple, easy to follow flow chart using PowerPoint’s text boxes and arrows.
2. Selling a Product? Images Go a Long Way
Impactful slides may not have many words at all. If you’re selling a product, website, or app, you should include a few (or more) slides with large photos showcasing what you’re pitching.
Even if your product is small and you’ve brought one, or a dozen, samples with you, having pictures in your slides completes your narrative.
Just remember, since you’ll likely share your deck both before and after your pitch, your images should have captions so that readers can make sense of those slides when you’re not there to explain them. The best pitch decks are ones that sell even in your absence.
3. Include a Go-to-Market Strategy Slide
Your deck isn’t complete without a slide that explains how you’ll enter the market with success. Your strategy can be presented as a single, paired-down slide with the caveat that your business plan includes the full picture, or your strategy can span several slides breaking things down into greater detail.
How you present this information greatly depends on whether your go-to-market strategy can be simplified into parts or steps without losing audience understanding.
4. Predict Your Growth
While it may be hard to know how many employees you’ll hire, the type of space you’ll need to rent, or the amount of revenue you’ll make in the first year, this is all information your audience wants to know.
It shows you’re forward thinking, that you’ve constructed a well-devised plan for the future and that you’ll be a participant in the local economy. Besides making your pitch feel serious and well-developed, putting your predicted revenue on a slide and saying it again in your pitches lays the foundation for convincing yourself that you will succeed.
Life coaches and motivational speakers often tell you to write down your personal goals and share them with your friends and family as a way to way reinforce them in your mind and put pressure on yourself to keep at it when the going gets tough.
Putting future goals in your pitch deck is no different. It helps you visualize your goals thereby making them a reality.
5. Brand Your Slides
Use your color scheme and place your logo in the bottom corner of each slide to give your company a professional look while reinforcing your brand image throughout the duration of your presentation.
What if you’re using a template design because you don’t have the time to design a deck or you’re not yet sure about branding? That’s okay, but opt for a professional template that’s modern.
6. Consider Putting Your Pitch Deck in the Cloud.
It’s easy to attach your deck in an email and send it off, but what if that recipient needs to share the deck with four more people?
Uploading your deck to the cloud with a shareable link makes it easier for investor groups to share your deck and increase the likelihood it’s seen by the right people.
If you’re worried about your pitch deck will be shared with the wrong individuals or that someone will steal your verbiage, photos, or ideas, then think about it this way: sending your deck by e-mail is not any different.
The recipient could just as easily forward the deck to a competitor, copy off your words, or screen grab your photographs.
To thwart plagiarizers, you should put a one-liner at the bottom of each slide stating the content belongs to you or your company and that it is confidential. Alternatively, you can include copyright text such as “© Nocturnal Legal.”
Besides this, the only surefire way to combat your worries is to have recipients sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Unfortunately pitching for funding inherently requires the open sharing of your most preciously guarded ideas. It’s a risk every entrepreneur takes.
7. Invest In a Presenter Remote.
Nothing is worse than watching a presenter stand behind their computer creating a physical barrier between them and their audience. It hinders rapport-building and, for those who haven’t practiced enough, sometimes those arrow keys aren’t that intuitive and you move back a slide instead of forward.
Your pitch deck should be the focus of your presentation; your body language and your physical presentation of the deck should reflect positively on you and thus on your company.
Remotes are fairly cheap and they let you walk freely around the space, which is a technique professors use to keep their audience’s attention. Most importantly, it prevents you from creating a space in which you nervously fidget.
8. Present to a Child.
If you don’t have children, there’s a strong likelihood you know someone who does. Pitching clean energy or some other complex ideologies to adults can be challenging, but pitching to a child is an entirely different ballgame.
You might have sent your deck to a colleague or friend in order to receive input and fine-tune the content, but it’s not likely you’ve asked for feedback from someone that’s 14 or younger. Presenting to a child ensures your content is simple and understandable.
When we work on something near and dear to our heart we’re often blinded by the complexities of the topic.
After all, you’re the expert so it’s likely you think the deck is extremely simple; however, if a child can’t follow your presentation then you should likely go back to the drawing board.
A pitch deck, by definition, should provide the broad overview of you, your company, and your business goals. Even if you’re pitching to receive funding for molecular research or hyperspace travel, your pitch deck should remain simple.
When you get past the initial presentation and are invited back for a second, more inclusive discussion, that’s when you can put together a complicated deck full of scientific jargon, mathematical equations, etc.
It’s smart practice to create three decks. The first is your pitch deck and the most simplified, big picture presentation. The second deck is the first drill down into complex ideas and explanations. For some, this second deck will be enough and cover all the information necessary to make investors understand. For those with highly complex pitches, a third deck will include the nitty gritty science.
Having three different decks also allows you to tailor your pitch depending on the audience.
Say you have three pitches scheduled this week; one is with a venture capital firm that knows some, but still only a little about what your company does on a technical level; one with economic development, which knows nothing on a technical level; and one with a specialized investor group that has a board filled with PhDs, doctors, or other individuals with specialized knowledge.
For the VC you might use pitch deck 1 or 2, for economic development you’ll use deck 1, and for the specialized investor group you’ll skip right to deck 3.
Does this mean you’ll have to create three different speeches? Yes, but deck 1 is the foundational speech and you can build off of it when creating the speeches for deck 2 and 3.
Or, if you’re so engrossed in your work that it all comes second nature, you can present off-the-cuff in a more conversational tone with the decks acting as visual aids.
9. Tell Them the Amount of Funding You Need
You’ll be asked by investor groups how much funding you’re looking for regardless of whether it’s included in your deck. For investment groups that are poor listeners or are overwhelmed by your ideas, they may ask you at the end of your presentation even if you’ve covered it as part of your verbal pitch.
Having the amount you’re looking for on a dedicated slide helps speed up the funding process.
When you share your deck, investor groups can see right away if the amount your seeking is outside their funding threshold. This allows groups to turn you away from the outset instead of wasting your time by allowing you to present, and perhaps travel a long distance to do so, only to find out it’s not a good fit.
Including your funding needs also helps investor groups know whom they can introduce or where they can send you. Pitching is in essence a form of networking and if you don’t tell people what you want then it’s impossible for your connections to give you what you need.
Last, including your funding in your pitch deck is similar to #4. Typing out your goals and making them a part of your company’s plan not only pushes you to meet them, but it also gives the impression that it’s a non-negotiable requirement.
When you’re dealing with a group that can provide funding within a range, and you’re at the top of that range, the group may feel like they can’t offer you much less than what you’re asking simply because it appears to be part of an already strong plan.
This helps ensure the funding you receive is enough to get the job done.
If you present without this slide you risk groups experiencing “sticker shock” when you mention the figure, you risk groups offering a lower amount of funding under the pretense that you’re flexible, or you risk appearing as though you haven’t spent enough time creating a sound profit and loss statement.
10. Make Your “Thank You” Slide Actionable.
A thank you slide can either mark the end of your deck in an uneventful way, or it can make connecting with you a breeze.
Consider taking a screenshot of your LinkedIn profile banner. This shows your audience the photo that’s associated with your account and makes it easier when scrolling through search results to quickly locate and connect with you.
As for your e-mail, make it a link so no one has to copy and paste. Web addresses should also be hyperlinked. Anything that reduces the steps one needs to take to get in touch or find out more.
Pitch decks are an extension of your personal brand. Starting a business and looking for funding at the same time can be draining, and, as a result, you may try and cut corners when it comes to creating your deck.
This can be a huge mistake for entrepreneurs that have awesome ideas, but their pitch fails to convey it.
Every pitch deck should have an introduction, information about personnel/employees/you, an explanation of the problem and how you’re solving it, your go-to-market strategy, the amount of funding you need, and a timeframe that stipulates what you plan to accomplish in one month, six months, and one year.
The time you spend making a pitch deck will undoubtedly pay off with investment groups better able to quickly understand your business, your play in the market, and how you might fit with their fund or investors.
More to Read
Need help with your pitch deck or your presentation? Nocturnal Legal offers one-on-one coaching to help you perfect your pitch and effortlessly convince investors to hand you their money.