I have seen lots of pitches in my day. One big thing I recognized isn’t always clear with entrepreneurs is that there are multiple formats for investor decks based on the occasion. Are you sending it via email, or uploading it to a server somewhere? Are you showing it on an iPad and walking someone through it, or are you pitching at a competition? Each of these situations require a different pitch deck.
The way a deck is formatted and presented can change the entire way your company and product is perceived. Perfecting your deck is important because it’s a chance to prove you have authority on the subject manner and have found the exact solution to the problem you are solving. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success.
Choose the Version
Get used to having multiple versions of your deck. It’s helpful to have a template that you always build from then duplicate it for each occasion. The pitch deck that will be sent to an investor as a follow up can include a few additional pages with more explanation text whereas the deck you present on stage needs to be shorter with significantly less copy.
Follow a Strategic Format
There’s lots of great resources out there to guide you on the correct format (like this, this, this, and this). It’s important to keep it simple, tell a good story, and showcase the impact. I typically recommend following this format:
- Start with a story.
- Clearly define the problem your business will solve (this could also be your “mission”).
- Clearly define the solution your business will present.
- Clearly define the Target Market your solution will impact.
- Present metrics that validate your business and traction (your business model and previous successes). Include these helpful financials.
- Identify who your key team members are and their credentials.
- Make your ask.
Pay Attention to Design and Detail
While design may seem like an afterthought, it’s how you visually tell your story. By using the right design, you will come off clean, professional, and hopefully tell the story how you want. There is no hard and fast rule for how your pitch “should” look, but here are some guidelines:
- Choose a standard 4:3 or 16:9 document size.
- Use a consistent and branded design motif throughout your deck and add slight variety to each slide to keep the viewer engaged.
- Make the words on your slide as concise as possible (don’t try to fit too much per slide).
- Size the text at a minimum 18-point font and above when presenting live.
- Take a look at how much space you have left for your image, then pick the most ideal image or include simple icons to drive the point.
- Stay away from 90s-esque drop shadows.
- Be consistent with your capitalization throughout headers on each slide.
- Spell check. Always. Then spell check again.
- Helpful tools along the way: Canva, Google Slides, Greatest Sales Deck Reference
One of the toughest mistakes I’ve seen an entrepreneur make is not having someone else involved in the process. Have another person look your deck. Then have a second person look at it. Ask them does the story make sense? Is the point clear? How could the deck be made more simple? I also like to stress the importance of practicing a pitch if you plan to give it live. Oftentimes entrepreneurs think they’ll nail their pitch because it all sounds groovy in their head, but after they actually speak the words, its comes out as gibberish. There’s rarely a time you can be too prepared. Make sure that all the nuts and bolts are ready before you give your pitch. You don’t want anything to go wrong before you are given your few minutes to wow a potential investor.
Once you have read (and proofed) your slides, made sure your design tells the story you want, and made sure you have clearly defined the problem and solution, you will be able to nail your pitch perfectly!