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Creating the Perfect Pitch Deck

The business pitch is used by startups to inform potential investors, gain interest of potential partners, and to help make sales. Carefully crafting a pitch deck is crucial to conveying your startup’s story in an effective manner and receiving capital. Presenting your pitch could very well be how you’re making a first impression with investors (whether it be good or bad is up to you and your pitch deck). Have no fear though, we’re here to offer tips on how to make the most of your pitch.

10/20/30 Rule

A great method to use while making your pitch is the 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint created by Guy Kawasaki. He preaches the effectiveness of having 10 slides, taking 20 minutes to present, and using a 30 pt font on your slides. 

10 Slides

Guy recommends the following 10 slide topics to be addressed in your presentation:

  1. Title (~30 seconds)

Your title slide should feature your business’ name and logo as well as your name and title. Other good information to include is contact info (address, email, phone number, website, etc).

  1. Problem/Opportunity (~2 minute)

Describe the pain points that you aim to fix with your product and/or the pleasurable, unique opportunities you’re providing. You’re trying to strike your audience’s attention and help them connect to your target market’s woes.

  1. Value Proposition (~2 minute

Share the value of the problems you’re solving or the value of pleasures you’re bringing to the table. Explain why your solution is the right choice for the target market and why you are going to be the best fit for their needs.

  1. Underlying Magic (~2 minutes)

Describe what sets you apart from the crowd. Tell (and possibly show) them the magic behind your product. Try to include visuals or testimonials here to really make the most of your impact.

  1. Business Model (~2 minutes)

Explain where the money is coming from currently, where revenue is coming from and what it’s going towards, and how you plan on getting the revenue into your pockets.

  1. Go-To-Market Plan (~2 minutes)

Describe how you are going to hit the market, make a splash, and get in front of your target market without spending an arm and a leg.

  1. Competitive Analysis (~2 minutes)

Share insight into your biggest competitors. Give their strengths as well as their weaknesses and how you can outshine them in the market. You could perform a SWOT analysis to get the information you need for this slide.

  1. Management Team (~1 minute)

Share key members of your management team. This can include boards of directors, boards of advisors, and investors. It would not be a bad idea to share notable past experiences of your internal team here.

  1. Financial Projections and Key Metrics (~2 minutes)

Share a 3-5 year outline of future projections highlighting revenue as well as other KPIs like size of user base and conversion rate. Let the numbers do the work to convince them!

  1. Current Status, Accomplishments To Date, Timeline, and Use of Funds (~ 3 minutes)

Share the current status of your product as well as any accomplishments you’ve achieved so far. Share upcoming improvements that are coming down the pipeline. Don’t forget to include how you plan on using incoming investments!

Other gurus and guides recommend similar layouts and topics as this for pitching. The thing to keep in mind is that there is no perfect pitch layout that works for every startup. You may want two slides showcasing your underlying magic, or perhaps you want to include an entirely unique slide topic that you saw in an example pitch deck. Use these 10 as a jumping off point and make your pitch deck yours!

20 Minutes

Aim to cover all of your slides in about 20 minutes. If you have booked an hour time slot, this leaves wiggle room for people arriving late, technical difficulties, as well as leaves the opportunity for your audience to ask questions during and after your presentation. Another reason to keep things on the shorter side is that people’s attention spans start waning. If you feel you have information that you still need to share but won’t have time for, add it in an appendix, include it in follow-up correspondence, or address it during your time for discussion after the presentation. 

30 Pt Font

The main idea behind this rule is to focus on putting the big ideas on your slides. Have you ever put almost every detail of what you want to say directly on your slides? If yes, you’ve probably fallen victim to using your slide as a note card to read off almost word for word. This leads listeners to go ahead and read all the text that you have written and tune you out! They might be reading ahead faster than you cover the information yourself. This creates a disconnect between you, the presenter, and those you’re trying to make a connection with. Your audience will either listen to you, or read your presentation, not both.

Another good reason to use a large font is to consider accessibility for others. You may have someone that has difficulty reading small fonts in the room, so having key information written in tiny fonts could be blocking them from absorbing it. Something else that you should think about is the type of fonts you use as well as the color contrast of the font against the background. It may seem small to you, but avoiding more decorative fonts and using sufficient color contrast between text and background can make a huge difference to someone in your audience. A few of the most accessible and easy-to-read fonts are Calibri, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman. Try to use a 30 pt font to highlight your main ideas and to make your presentation easy to read. 

Want to learn more about accessibility within your presentation? Check out W3C’s guide, How to Make Your Presentations Accessible to All.

Other Tips For Pitching

We’ve gathered some other handy tips and tricks to make your pitch the best that it can be!

  • Avoid using jargon that your intended audience will not understand.

While industry jargon and acronyms may sound impressive, you will either lose your audience’s attention while they try to figure out what you’re saying or you will spend too much time explaining the definition of these terms. Don’t be afraid to show your expertise but also connect with your audience on a human level.

  • Show off prototypes or demos of your product or software.

If possible at your stage, try having something that can show off the functionality and details of your product. Giving your audience the chance to step into the shoes of a consumer and see how your product looks and feels will make a more memorable experience.

  • Leave the audience with a memorable statement.

Have a notable soundbite about your product or software. Some investors see a multitude of pitches in a week or even just in a day. Creating a memorable moment can help your pitch stick in their minds.

  • Make your pitch visually appealing.

Including images and graphs help visual learners absorb the information you’re sharing. Using consistent font, font size, and colors not only help your presentation look nice, but also makes you look professional. Others can tell that you took time and care to prepare the pitch. If you have branding around your product, opt for your brand’s colors,fonts, and tone!

  • Review successful pitch decks.

There’s gotta be something in their secret sauce right? Check out the endless amounts of sample pitch decks as well as archived decks from successful startups online. Here are a few to get you started:

Facebook’s pitch deck from Spring 2004

Airbnb’s pitch deck from its Angel Round

Buffer’s pitch deck from its seed round

Mixpanel’s pitch deck

Note: While these do not use the exact 10/20/30 method, there is overlap in content and strategy.

  • Send your pitch deck ahead of time.

Give the investor time to review your pitch deck and get interested in your project before you even step in the door. This can help them formulate questions to ask you during your pitch. Send your pitch deck in PDF form so that it’s easily accessible rather than linking through Dropbox or Google Docs. This also means that they have it on hand to review after your presentation!

Nail that Pitch

With a little elbow grease your pitch deck will be ready to hit the presentation circuit (or at least the investor boardrooms). Run through it in front of others and get your cadence. Practice makes perfect as they say! The 10/20/30 rule is a great way to hit all the marks your audience needs to learn about your product.

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