First impressions matter. The way you shake the hand of a potential employer or introduce yourself to a prospective partner sets the tone for the interaction; possibly even the relationship.
Pitching is the art of the good impression. In business, that means telling the story of your customers, the problem they’re facing, and how your business solves it for them. But the story is only part of the equation—visual storytelling in your presentations is crucial to getting your message across. Enter the pitch deck: giving your story a visual boost that leaves an impression that sticks around when it’s time for customers or investors to make a decision.
There’s a delicate balancing act in the perfect pitch deck. Not including the right information could lose you potential investors, essential venture capital, and future customers. Including too much information can overwhelm your audience, making your pitch fall flat.
If you’re new to pitch deck building, this article will show you what to include in your deck and how to build one. You’ll see examples of pitch decks that hit the mark for customers and investors.
If you’re a seasoned veteran of pitch deck building, you’ll learn how to create more polished decks. You’ll pick up valuable tips on how to build a better deck that impresses investors, customers, or promotes buy-in for your products and services.
A pitch deck is a presentation made to convince someone to invest in your business, become a partner, or purchase your services. More substantial than an “elevator pitch”, pitch decks are used to show who you are, what problem you’re solving, and who you’re solving it for. If you’re using a pitch deck to gain investments, you’ll also include financial information like your budget, revenue projections and profit margins.
Pitch decks for investment frequently outline the risks and rewards of investing in your company. If you're selling your services or attempting to win another company's business, a pitch deck can also include your service or product and the previous work you’ve done with similar clients.
The best pitch decks speak for themselves. You might not be there to guide a potential investor or client through your pitch, so your deck should be able tell your story as well as you can in your absence.
Great pitch decks are defined by their design. They’re visual storytelling devices, and they can make or break a pitch. It doesn’t matter if you’re using PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Apple Keynote—strong designers can use those blank slides to create a pitch deck that is concise, easy to follow and compelling.
Here are 7 must-haves for an effective pitch deck. Each pitch will be different, so consider your audience, goals and allotted time as you build your own.
The “why” behind your business is as important as the business itself. Briefly include key details about yourself, your team, and why you do what you do. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many decks begin with bare statistics. Start your pitch deck with a concise story of what your product, business, or solution does and why you care about the problem in the first place.
Starting with this essential information is informative and humanizing. It shows investors what you’re all about, and gives them a sense of the person/people they’ll be working with.
Whether you’re pitching to investors or customers, a pitch deck is built around the customer’s perspective. Can your pitch audience see themselves in that group? Do they have that same problem? Your pitch deck needs to convince viewers that A) the problem is real, and B) there are customers willing to pay to have that problem solved.
When creating a pitch deck, always remember, WIIFM–or What’s In It For Me? In business, the “me” is potential investors and customers. Viewers need to see your business as a golden opportunity, and one that demands action. What are the benefits of working with or investing in you? Is your product or service going to save them time or money? Is it going to make their lives easier or better in some way?
Each slide or statement in your presentation should make clear the benefits to the person sitting in front of you.
One of the best ways to showcase your product or service is through success stories and proof points. If you’re a startup, do you have beta or early customers who can validate your product or service? Having customers say your product works and they will continue to pay for it is one of the best ways to show investors your business has potential for growth.
Case studies and testimonials give your audience a real-world example of how you can help them. If you are looking for potential investors, include examples of those already invested in your company.
Your product might be amazing—but what will your industry and customer base look like one year, five years, or even a decade from now? Great pitch decks provide your audience with a data-backed view of what your market looks like in the future. Your deck should answer these questions:
This is your chance to show investors that you have a clear vision for where your business is headed in the years to come. Include data like growth metrics, capital and sales estimates to support your claims. Investors or potential clients want to feel safe in your hands and sure of the benefits of working with you in the long term.
How can your pitch deck’s audience be involved in growing your business? If your pitch deck is for investors, tell them how their investment will help you grow, scale, and succeed. If you’re pitching to potential customers, show them the benefits of working with you.
While every slide or statement in your deck should imply benefits to your audience, this is your opportunity to call them out directly.
What steps will you take, and what steps should your audience take to continue your relationship? As you wrap up your pitch, include the following:
Post-pitch, take note of what went well and what could be improved next time. Connect with any new contacts you made during the presentation, and follow up where appropriate.
Now that you’ve got your deck’s structure down, here are 6 Do’s and Don’ts for connecting with your audience.
In showbiz, the goal is to have your audience always wanting more. Business isn’t much different: You want to provide your audience with enough information to make them want to continue the conversation, but not overload them. Whether that’s getting investment or closing a sale, say more with less. Stick to the essential information and use visuals that support and propel your statements.
In the spirit of the suggestion above, look for anything that can be cut. Anything that’s obvious, has been said already or doesn’t support your main points should be saved for another conversation. Focus on the most critical aspects of your business, and avoid getting bogged down in the details. Ask yourself whether you’d need to know this to consider another person’s business.
Unless you are a presentation wizard, it’s best to leave the design and development of the deck to professionals. This could be a team of designers within your organization, or a dedicated design partner. Develop the actual content and information yourself, but leave “making it pop” to the professionals.
Tools like PowerPoint and Google Docs come with built-in templates. They’re great for school presentations, but when you’re putting together a pitch deck for investors or customers, your pitch deck must represent your brand and vision alone. Dedicated design teams are best at imbuing brand identity and voice into your pitch deck.
Though you may know your company inside and out, practicing your presentation ahead of an important meeting is essential to mastering the flow and tempo of your story. Practicing can also help you find holes or gaps in your storytelling, and prepare you for any questions you might get.
Make a list of the questions you don’t want to be asked and have answers for them. It helps take the stress out of pitching.
Good presentations are as much about energy as the material itself. Don’t dilly dally between slides—silence or awkwardness can make people feel uncomfortable, and it hurts the flow of the presentation.
Even if something goes wrong, keep the story moving.
Finding a pitch deck template that suits your presentation can save you time, effort, and frustration. Fortunately, a quick internet search will show thousands of great pitch deck examples. Have a look at a few examples of incredible pitch decks, and check out some of these sources for unique templates to help you get started.
Building a perfect pitch deck can be as time-consuming as it is necessary for success. If you’re an ambitious company, your focus should be on growth. Professional designers are unparalleled when it comes to building compelling pitch decks—let them build your presentation while you build your business.
At Superside, we know that creating compelling pitch decks and presentations are never a one-and-done process. This is why we’ll work with you—getting to know your needs and how we can best help you get the results you need every time.
Sofie is an SEO and content specialist. From being a journalist at your daily news television broadcast, to producing films and writing travel blogs; she has ended up at the more technical side of content and has a nose for sniffing out the creative pieces that will make your competitors look like digital noobs.
When not busy operationalising Content, she is happily cooking up a storm, hiking through the mountains or searching for the best flight tickets to her next travel destination.
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