What is a Pitch Deck?
In the world of business, there are numerous ways an organization can reach out to potential investors, customers and partners. Popular methods of link-building and bond-strengthening include face to face meetings, outings, video conferences and business tours. The main aim of these interactions is to provide your contact with insight into your business and give them a valid reason as to why they should invest their time and money into your venture.
This type of presentation is the initial offering – the first visual representation of your business that a potential investor will see. Due to this fact and the nature of a pitch deck, it is important that you understand exactly how to craft one, and how to maximize its potential. A successfully crafted and presented pitch deck could open the door for your business and lead to future encounters.
The following guide will take you through the various stages involved in creating and implementing a first-rate pitch deck.
Planning and Research – Understanding the requirements
Before you even think about creating the actual presentation, it is of vital importance that you take the time to perform adequate planning and research. Simply creating a pitch deck from scratch without understanding why it is required, what its purpose is, and who your target audience is can lead to future issues and could mean that your presentation falls on deaf ears. The following is a list of considerations that your business should look at before implementing your pitch deck.
Who is your target audience?
This is possibly the most important factor and is the question that should be given the highest consideration. Understanding your target audience will ensure that you pitch deck is delivered in the correct manner and style, and that your message is portrayed successfully. Creating a generic pitch deck that you can use again for various meetings could result in poor feedback and an incorrect message being delivered to your potential investors. The following are a list of questions that you should consider concerning your target audience:
- What is their preferred method of communication?
- What is their primary language?
- Who will represent the business?
- Do they have an understanding of your business or industry?
- Will they understand technical terminology?
Answering these questions will ensure that you tailor your pitch deck to suit your audience and maximize its desired effect. For example, if you create a pitch deck that contains extensive use of technical terminology to an investor that doesn’t have a deep understanding of your business; you risk confusion and alienating your audience.
What is the purpose of your pitch deck?
Once you have dissected your target audience, it is prudent to have a clear understanding of the purpose of your pitch deck. Why are you using a pitch deck? What information do you wish to display to your audience? What aspect of your business do you wish to present? What message do you wish to portray and how do you want the audience to view your business? Having a clear purpose will ensure that your pitch deck is straight to the point, concise, clear and well-delivered.
What do you wish to gain from the presentation?
Although this might sound similar to the purpose of a pitch deck, it is entirely different and is also an important factor. Understanding the purpose of your pitch deck will ensure your message is delivered efficiently, but understanding what you wish to gain from it will ensure you have realistic expectations, and can review its effectiveness afterward. Write down or make a list of some actual outcomes that you wish to arise from your pitch deck; examples of potential gains could include:
- Instigating a second meeting with an investor
- Prompting an investor to pledge funds to your business
- Prompting a customer to place an order or set up an account
Once you have created a list of desired gains, you can use this to customize your pitch deck and prompt these actions to happen. Furthermore, once your presentation has been completed, you can look back at this list, and see if you were indeed successful.
As you can see, planning and research will greatly help improve the feasibility and effectiveness of your pitch deck. Consider asking for input from various different departments and individuals from your organizations to widen your knowledge pool and to gain a variety of perspectives on what you are proposing. Once you have sufficiently planned your pitch deck, you can then turn your attention to its design and creation.
Creation and Composition – Putting your planning into practice
By now, you should have a bullet proof plan and be fully aware of what direction you wish to take with your pitch deck presentation. It is time therefore to create your pitch deck! Consider forming a specialized task force to create this presentation and allow sufficient time and resources for its implementation – the short-term expense could reap huge dividends for the future of your business. Throughout the following sections, you will learn how to craft a pitch deck and what slides to include in your presentation – first, take a look at our comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts.
Important Do’s and Don’ts
Creating an effective and appealing pitch deck is like crafting a piece of art – there are certain things you should definitely do, and certain things you should try and avoid. You should strive to find a fine balance between aesthetics and functionality to ensure that your presentation is easy on the eye but informative and beneficial. See below our list of Do’s and Don’ts for creating the perfect pitch deck:
- Tell a story: an audience can follow a story and become invested in its outcome.
- Invoke emotions: an emotive pitch deck will resonate at a deeper level with your audience.
- Promote one idea per slide: any more than this could cause confusion and mixed messages.
- Provide a face to your business: an audience can relate to an idea if they know who is behind it.
- Remain consistent: a recurring theme, structure, and colors should be used on each slide.
- Proof Read: there is nothing more unprofessional than a presentation littered with errors.
- Overuse Bullets: Although lists can help, too many can be counterproductive.
- Drag it out: 10 slides should be the maximum – any more than this and you risk losing your audience’s attention
- Use only text: images, graphs, and pictograms should be present too.
- Use only images: on the flip side, no text can result in a lack of understanding.
- Use small fonts: everything should be legible, clear and easy to read.
By taking into consideration this list of do’s and don’ts you should be capable of creating the perfect pitch deck. When creating each individual slide, refer back to these important pointers to ensure you are including only relevant information, and that your content will engage your audience. Now that you have a clearer understanding of some of the standard pitch deck practices, it is important to understand the commonly used slide compositions in a presentation such as this.
Standard slide composition
Slide 1 – Introduction
Your introduction should be short, snappy and enticing. This is literally the first piece of text your audience will see therefore it should be memorable. Generally, the introduction of a pitch deck will consist of a single sentence that provides a summary of your business and what it does – this is sometimes known as a vision statement or a value proposition.
Slide 2 – The Team
Who are the key players in your business? Who will be the point of contact? What experience does your team have and what makes them stand out from the crowd? This slide should introduce your team and allow your audience to see exactly who they could be working with and what makes them model employees.
Slide 3 – The Problem
If your business isn’t solving a problem, then why should your audience take an interest? The core of business is based on supply and demand, and problem-solving. For example – aviation solved the issue of time-consuming trans-continental travel. What problem does your business solve? Why is this problem relevant to your targeted investors? Consider using a story or a real-life scenario to add extra weight and credence to your problem so that your audience can truly relate to it.
Slide 4 – The Solution
Now that you have presented a genuine problem and the reasons as to why this affects your audience, it is the perfect time to reveal how your business/product/service solves this problem. Provide statistics, figures and factual evidence to show that your business is the logical answer to the aforementioned problem, and just how much your audience stands to gain from investing/partnering with your organization.
Slide 5 – Your product/service
Slide 5 is where you divulge a little more detail about your problem-solving product/service. Now that you have grabbed your audience’s attention, you can explain how your solution works to improve their understanding. Consider showing examples, or even giving a short demonstration if applicable. If you are seeking investment for a product, you should showcase exactly what it looks like together with technical data and a concise section on how it is beneficial.
Slide 6 – Traction
As the pitch deck continues, you can now turn towards your existing customer base to add validity and traction to your presentation. Investors and partners like to see statistics and real-time figures that promote your product or service in a positive light. How can you reassure them that your solution is worth their investment? Traction. Slide 6 should contain any relevant data that shows your solution is already proven and successful; this could include sales figures, customer feedback or other metrics.
Slide 7 – Financial forecasting
Now that you have shown that your product or solution has potential, it is prudent to provide a set of financial forecasts that show what you expect for the future of your business. What are your projected sales forecasts for the next 5 years? What is your estimated business growth for 2018 and expected profit margins? Do you have a set of open accounts that shows your expenditure and cash flow? Remain realistic and transparent, and be ready to answer questions about your organization’s financial stability.
Slide 8 – Potential competition
It is virtually impossible to operate a business without competition – there are few businesses in the world that have a monopoly in their market or industry. Slide 8 should discuss in brief your competition and what alternative products or services are available on the market. The emphasis should, of course, be placed on your own business and how you offer something unique that distinguishes you from the competition. How is your product or service superior? How does your business fit into the marketplace? Why should someone choose you over Business B? Reassure your audience that you are without a doubt, the leader in the market.
Slide 9 – Desired investment
At this point in time, your audience and investors should have a clear idea of what you can offer. It is now time to make it clear what you expect in return. The whole point of a pitch deck is to build relationships, seek new business and generate funds, so at some point, you will actually have to ask! Present a clear set of figures detailing specific funds you require, together with how these funds would be used, and what ROI (if any) an investor can expect to make. If you have already successfully lobbied other investors, you could use them as evidence that your business is a worthwhile venture.
Slide 10 – Closure
The final slide should contain your contact details together with a clear set of instructions on what happens next. If you simply end your pitch deck without leaving any details, how is your audience expected to contact you? Furthermore, if you do not state clearly how they can invest, then how can they take the next step in your relationship? Ensure to be thankful and appreciative that your audience has taken the time to entertain your pitch deck.
The order and content of these slides can vary, however, it is advisable to follow a logical order that isn’t confusing or convoluted for your audience. Popular platforms for creating a pitch deck include PowerPoint, Prezi, and Keynote; each of which offers a variety of templates and customization options. Before presenting your pitch deck, ensure it has been proofread to remove any error, and you could even consider a trial run.
The final stage of a pitch deck is the delivery and implementation. It is important that the presentation is delivered by someone who is confident and has an innate ability to speak calmly and coherently to strangers. A pitch deck should flow naturally, and you should avoid simply reading each slide word for word – this can seem robotic and too rehearsed. Take cues from the information presented on your pitch deck, but don’t be afraid to ad-lib or embellish each slide with your own wit and words.
Hopefully, your business will benefit greatly from your new found insight into the art of crafting a pitch deck. This type of multi-media presentation is a fantastic way to gain the confidence and support of investors, and provide a concise and engaging display of what your business has to offer. A pitch deck can give your business a huge boost, and open up a plethora of new possibilities and opportunities – this is why it is important to get it right and make the right impression.