by Mark Hayes
May 29, 2017

Creating a pitch deck can be daunting experience – especially when the success of your startup might rely on how good of a job you do.

If you’re new to the world of creating pitch decks, don’t worry.

In this post, we’re going to look at how you can knock it out of the park when creating a pitch deck of your own.

We’ll review the kinds of slides you need to include in a pitch deck, as well as the guiding principles you need to keep in mind.

By the end of this post, you’ll know how to create a persuasive pitch deck of which will help convince investors that your company is worth their attention.

Let’s begin!

Two key perspectives

For the most part, your pitch deck should cover two key perspectives and stories.

  1. The story of the individual(s) founding the company
  2. The story of the startup and the opportunity

The initial ‘story’ slides will be designed to sell you, and if it applies, your cofounders too.

The other slides, however, are designed to sell the business.

For some investors, the people founding the company are equally, if not more important, as the startup and opportunity in question.

You therefore want to meet the needs of these individuals, by talking about the founders of the company, in addition to how the idea for the company came about.

By doing this, you’ll give the investors a reason to believe in the company, even if they have some initial doubts.

Why?

Because if investors appreciate that you’re competent, they’ll have faith in your ability.

Especially when it comes to overcoming the challenges that stand in the way of your company hitting the big time – challenges of which, you’re going to bring attention to in later slides.

Guiding principles

As you go about creating your pitch deck, you want to acknowledge some guiding principles. These principles should be on your mind throughout the creation and editing process.

To begin with, make sure that your slides don’t contain too much text.

You’ve probably experienced for yourself, the disaster that is a powerpoint slide overcrowded with text.

Such slides benefit nobody.

For one, people will be reading your slides, without listening to you.

Furthermore, if you forget to something during your presentation, it’ll be hard to get back on track if you have to search through a mountain of text to remind you of a key point.

So keep things as brief as possible and only write out key points.

You also need to be wary of wasting too much time in order to make things look ‘pretty.’

Yes, you need to make sure that your slides look presentable.

But don’t go out of your way to watch a dozen photoshop tutorials, just so that you can design a slide that is dramatic. Odds are, this sort of stuff is going to be a waste of your time.

Plus, concentrating too much on the aesthetic appeal of your slides, could lead to you creating something that distracts from the key points you’re trying to deliver.

Substance is what matters most and it is what you should be focusing on most.

If you absolutely need to, you can always hire a designer to polish up your slide.

For the most part, though, just making sure that your slide matches the branding and color scheme of your startup, should be enough.

You’ll also want to make sure that you’re using charts.

Charts can be very persuasive.  

That’s because they make it easy for investors to quickly interpret key data.

Using a chart, it also becomes easier to tell the story of how your startup is progressing and achieving growth.

Charts don’t have to be based on just your own internal numbers.

Provided you’re using credible sources and you’re not doctoring anything, you can also use charts to highlight external factors that might be beneficial for your startup.

For instance, suppose you sold an ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) operating system.

Making use of a chart which details the number of IOT devices projected to be in people’s homes in the coming years, might help highlight the opportunity.

The slides

In most cases, you’ll tend to find that the best pitch decks, cover similar topics.

There will be some variations, however, amongst the top decks.

But a lot of the time this variation occurs because some companies will break down certain topics into subtopics, of which will have their own slide.

It is up to you, whether or not you want to do this.

In any case, here are the slides you should definitely consider using –

  • Story of the founding team
  • The problem
  • The solution to this problem
  • The market – validation and projected size ( can be broken into two slides)
  • The product built to solve this problem and provide a solution
  • The business model
  • Milestones
  • Market adoption and financials
  • Methods of growth
  • Competition
  • Competitive Advantages
  • Press
  • User testimonials
  • Summary
  • You don’t have to use all of the slides above, though there’s a good chance that you’ll benefit from doing so.

If you’re a little confused, it’s worth mentioning that though similar, slide 3 (the solution to the problem) and slide 5 (the product you’ve built) are different.

The solution slide is designed to give the describe what’s possible, when the in question problem is solved.

Here’s an example of a ‘Solution’ slide, of which comes from the AirBnB pitch deck.

 

The product side, however, is designed to show exactly what you’ve created up with in relation to this problem.

And here’s one of their ‘product’ slides.

 

The solution slide is important, because it gives you the chance to talk about the features and benefits of your product. Your product slide, on the other hand, gives you the chance to showcase how your product actually works.

Don’t be afraid to learn from the masters

You should always try to study examples of existing slides from companies that have managed to gain investment.

You don’t want to get in a situation where it’s paralysis by analysis, but studying pitch decks from this site, this one and also this site, can help spark some inspiration.

Conclusions

If you’re trying to secure some investment for your startup, a pitch deck is probably going to be used at some point or another.

In this post, we’ve taken a look at some of the strategies you can use to create a great pitch deck, as well as some of the guiding principles you should pay attention to.

As with all things, you’ll get better at creating pitch decks, over time. But what matters most right now, is that you get started with your first draft.

After all, the quicker you create your first draft, the sooner it’ll be that you have something to improve upon.

And the sooner you have something to improve upon – the sooner you can get investment for your startup!

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