Creating a Powerful Pitch Deck

A well-designed, brand-consistent, and logical pitch deck could turn into the best investment you’ll ever make in your business.

Presentations are a crucial part of the business development process. Whether you run a company or want to establish one, you can use a pitch deck to sell your services, seek venture capital funding, or ask an investor for money. Since a good presentation could literally propel your business forward – and a bad one could end it – we decided to put together some tips for preparing one that is not only memorable, but successful.

5 Tips for an Awesome Pitch Deck

A pitch deck explains your business – or new product or service – through slides full of data, text, and images. You can use PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote to create your deck, but it’s important to note that slides are merely a presentation tool – not the entire presentation itself.

          1. Determine the purpose and define your audience.
            • What is your primary objective for the presentation? Make sure that you design everything with that goal in mind.
            • What do you want your audience to take away from your presentation? This is more than a knowledge transfer; refer to the previous bullet.
            • Who is your audience? The more you know about their backgrounds, expectations, and levels of expertise, the more you’ll be able to gear your presentation to meet their needs.
          2. Create a storyboard.
            • How do you want your presentation to flow? Organize a storyboard that outlines every slide. Make sure that you only touch on one topic per slide, and that you progress through the presentation in a logical order.
            • What do you need to convey? If you are looking for funding, then your audience will want to know how you plan to make money and how much capital you need. If you are trying to persuade a potential client, you need to show them that you understand their pains and prove that you can alleviate them.
            • What are your accomplishments? Regardless of the purpose of your pitch deck, it’s a good idea to feature some of your successes.
          3. Make it look polished.
            • What “look” will represent your company well? Avoid clunky pre-designed templates and invest in custom design that can seamlessly incorporate your brand.
            • Is anything distracting? If a graphic or a piece of animation is too flashy or tacky it will detract from the information on the slide. A little action can keep the slides from being boring, but be careful not to over do it.
          4. Format like a pro.
            • Can you read it from the back of the room? Choose fonts that are easy to read and remember that colors count. A dark text on a lightly-colored background is typically the easiest for everyone to see.
            • How much do you need to say? Your slides aren’t meant to hold your script. Keep it simple and snackable! Avoid paragraphs and think, “less is more.”
          5. Fill it with useful content.
          • What three ideas or points do you want your audience to remember? Keep your content straightforward, with less than 40 words per slide.
          • What numbers substantiate your claims? You don’t want to dump data on your audience, but mix in some statistics that support your cause.
          • What’s your hook? Keep in mind that there’s a purpose for your presentation; include a call to action just as if you were designing an advertisement.

Beyond the Slides

As we mentioned earlie, your pitch deck is merely a tool. Remember to look professional and watch your body language. If you need a pre-written script, make sure that you don’t turn into a robot with no voice inflection or eye contact. Your audience wants an emotional connection with you; stories are an excellent way to engage them and stay engaged yourself. And last – but not least – ask questions. Asking questions will show your audience that you care about their opinions – and it will make your presentation more engaging.

Killer Presentations (in a good way)

With a little effort, you can develop a pitch deck that you’ll be able to use for years. If you aren’t PowerPoint-savvy (or Keynote-savvy), don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. A well-designed, brand-consistent, and logical slideshow could turn into the best investment you’ll ever make in your business.

The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch Decks

I am a big fan of Guy Kawasaki, I read everything I can find from him. This blog and infographic on the Corporate Pitch Decks are from the Guy Kawasaki website and referenced in one of my favorite books, The Art of the Start. At Conveyance we create pitch decks for many of our Northern Virginia clients – for sales, for investment, for analyst briefs and for corporate introductions – we live by the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.

I am evangelizing the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. This rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.

Ten slides. Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting—and venture capitalists are very normal. (The only difference between you and venture capitalist is that he is getting paid to gamble with someone else’s money). If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business.
Twenty minutes. You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you have an hour time slot, but you’re using a Windows laptop, so it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Even if setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.
Thirty-point font. The majority of the presentations that I see have text in a ten point font. As much text as possible is jammed into the slide, and then the presenter reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, it reads ahead of you because it can read faster than you can speak. The result is that you and the audience are out of synch.
The infographic created in collaboration with my friends at Visually will help you fine tune what to put on your ten slides. I hope this helps you create a winning pitch deck for your startup.

Source: Guy Kawasaki.com, The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch