How To Create A Pitch Deck That Will Stand Out (And Draw Investors)
By Sean Filidis
What is a Pitch Deck?
Pitch decks are short presentations created to give a quick, persuasive overview of your business plan, and are usually meant for showing to (potential) investors, partners, and clients.
They are an essential piece of content for any startup, but can also be important for virtually any established company that needs to succinctly communicate its products, solutions, and unique selling points to some stakeholders.
Traditionally, they've been built in PowerPoint or some other presentation software, and are designed to accompany a face-to-face, spoken presentation — but as you'll discover in this post, there are other (perhaps better) alternatives to this approach.
In any case, the goal of a pitch deck is to persuade and convert. That means it should be impressively designed, easy to digest, and — most importantly — carefully tailored to the specific person or audience you're targeting.
This post will give you some tips on how to create the perfect pitch deck.
What Should Be In A Pitch Deck?
There are several elements that every pitch deck should contain, regardless of what type of business you have. While title pages, team pages, and milestones are obvious niceties, the real meat is found in the following sections:
The Problem/Opportunity - This isn't about you, it's about your customers. What problem or pain point do you intend to help them solve, or what opportunity do you intend to help them exploit? The mere prevalence of this problem or opportunity is what gives legitimacy to the existence of your business. You should get your audience saying to themselves, "Why didn't I think of this?"
The Product/Solution - What have you invented? What have you developed? What are you going to offer the world that's new and fresh and will address the abovementioned problem or opportunity? And why is it an improvement over current solutions? This section of your pitch deck needs to knock your audience's socks off!
Your Unfair Advantage - What qualifies you, and your company, to be the ones who bring this solution to the market successfully? What do you have that others lack? While things like passion or commitment are certainly important, they're not interesting here. Perhaps your uncle is a millionaire angel investor? Maybe your company is vertically integrated and controls its entire supply chain?
Your Business Model - How do you plan to make money? How are you going to create and capture value? You should include things like cost structure, revenue streams, value propositions, key partners, key activities, and customer segments here. The business model canvas is a particularly useful way to present a business model visually.
Depending on the type of business, and the audience you're addressing, you may include other elements as well. Your competitive landscape, your traction channels, details about your market, financial information like budgets and forecasts are all commonly found in pitch decks.
Pitch Deck Do's And Don'ts
Having the right content is one thing. Presentation is another. Here are some best practices you should follow while putting your pitch deck together.
What Not To Do
Don't make your pitch deck too long. Today's audiences want snackable content. They want to see and understand the critical points quickly. In all your text, strive for succinctness — that is, be brief and clear.
Don't use too much text. Blocks of text that are more than 3 or 4 lines frequently get skipped over. Count on the fact that people are inherently lazy. Wherever you can, use images to convey your message.
Don't use small fonts. If people have to squint or lean forward to read your text, all that people will remember from your presentation is the headache they came away with. Excellent typography is essential.
Don't create a PDF, for heaven's sake! PDFs are easy to produce, but they offer a terrible user experience in a mobile-first world. They're not responsive, meaning they display poorly on any device that's not a desktop.
What You Should Do
Facts and ideas are nice, but you should aim to tell a story. People pay attention to stories, and they remember them far more easily. Because of the linear layout of a pitch deck, you can control the flow. Use this to your advantage and tell a compelling story.
Make your pitch deck visually stunning. Images can convey much more than text can, in a fraction of the time. They can evoke emotion faster than text can. Animations and embedded videos give you the opportunity to leave your audience with a lasting impression.
Measure engagement so that you can iterate and optimize. A good reason to avoid offline tools like PowerPoint and go for online pitch decks instead is that you can measure everything. Instant Magazine allows you to see who reads your pitch deck, how far they get through it, how much time they spend in it, what they click on and more.
Personalize your pitch deck. Another reason to go for online pitch decks is that you can include personalization tokens and smart content. You can connect Instant Magazine to your CRM, for example, or even use social integrations to pull in information like names and job titles. That way, each reader gets a presentation tailored directly to them.
Get your pitch deck in front of as many people as possible. Offline documents like PowerPoints and PDFs are not easily shareable, and you need to present them physically. Their online counterparts, however, are perfect for sharing and are even optimized for search engines, meaning that more eyes will see it.
With the right combination of useful content and visual flair, your pitch deck will be hard to ignore, regardless of who your audience is.
And if you go beyond the traditional PowerPoint, making your deck responsive, visually stunning, easy to share and personalized, you'll stand out and get the attention you're after.
Want to see Instant Magazine in action? Check out this interactive brochure built by Top Banana. Their use of interactive content, animated transitions, and stunning imagery and video make for an impressive presentation. Go ahead and say "wow" as many times as you like ;)
Sean Filidis is a copywriter, blogger, web developer and content marketing specialist. He heads up content strategy at Instant Magazine, making sure the right people see the right messages at just the right time.