You have your product, service, and all the other intricacies of opening up a new business project figured out. Everything on paper, in online documents, markered up on a whiteboard and ready to go.
The question is how to present this in a concise but more importantly, practical manner so as to help potential buyers or investors without going into all the details. This is when you will want to have an answer to this question:
What is a pitch deck and how do I use it to my advantage?
It’s a concise, and oftentimes entertaining presentation of your product and service that is informative and also easy on the listeners’ ears. It’s important to note that pitch decks are usually used to get financing from investors.
In a nutshell, a pitch deck is a presentation with up to 20 slides, that is put together and presented by entrepreneurs, seeking financing from investors.
Pitch decks can get a bit tricky since it’s important to strike the right balance between text and visuals here. On the one hand, you certainly want to impress potential investors by including well-designed visuals.
On the other hand, you don’t want to fall prey to style over substance. In other words, you want to make sure that there is enough reliable information on your slides to persuade investors to chip in.
You’re probably burning to know how to make a pitch deck. Well, no worries — we’ll help you out with that. Let’s dive in!
- 7 Things to Include in Your Pitch Deck
- 5 Tips to Make a Great Pitch Deck
7 Things to Include in Your Pitch Deck
The success of your pitch deck greatly relies on your slides and their functionality. While stylistic choices are also crucial as you do want to captivate your audience and get their attention, the big bulk of the weight is carried by the information you’re relaying in your slides.
Initially, it may feel like there is simply too much to include, which can often be the case. But if you divide your slides into several categories and give each one a specific function in your whole presentation, it will be much easier to create an effective presentation.
Include The Problem You’re Looking to Fix
Your product or service is there to provide the missing piece to a puzzle, and your investors should understand why that piece is missing.
This slide should demonstrate exactly what the problem is and why it needs to be fixed. In the end, your prospective investors should understand why this is a problem, who it affects, and why it needs to be fixed.
When you introduce the problem that your product or service looks to solve, it’s crucial that the investors have some way of relating to it. Investors need some way to connect with your problem and understand why it needs solving.
If the problem is a common one, there may be a chance that at least one of them has experienced it in their own personal lives and would like to invest in a solution. If there is a clear demographic for your product or service, they can see the possible financial gains of investing in your work.
Use this slide in your pitch deck to clearly spell out the problem and why it needs to be solved. Have a concise sentence that sums up the problem, but also go into detail, show some statistics, and justify why this problem is present and needs solving.
Discuss How Your Solution Will Help
The problem and solution slides are the meat and gravy of your pitch deck. This is what the investors will be looking for when they consider supporting you or not.
So, even if you don’t create an intimate connection and trust with your audience, at the very least you should have a clear example of what solution you offer.
First and foremost, limit your pitch deck puffery. Everyone knows that you’re there to present your product or service, so there is going to be a bit of exaggeration.
However, remember that investors expect you to be somewhat down-to-earth and have a realistic outlook on the market and in general, the world around you. Avoid making extensive claims, such as you’re the first and only one working on such a solution.
The world is quite a big place, and there is a good chance that somebody is also working on a similar product and service as you.
Instead, you should present what is unique about your solution and the methodology of your work, what resources you will be using, the timeframe of your work, as well as any future roadmaps you have for the further development of your product.
Show off With Your Market Knowledge
While you should focus on presenting your own solution in your pitch deck, it is still quite important to know your market.
What’s even more important than knowing your marketing is that your potential investors understand that you know the market and are closely following any developments and stagnations.
Now, depending on the kind of product or service you have created, the market is going to vary in size. You may be looking to enter a market that circulates hundreds of millions of dollars. But on the other hand, you may be looking to tackle a particular niche.
Most investors prefer putting their money in bigger markets, as these are more lucrative for them in the long run. However, this doesn’t mean that smaller markets are off the table.
If you present your intricate market research and demonstrate your knowledge of demand and competition, investors may overlook the niche demographic you’re looking to affect.
But if the market you’re tackling is in the million or even billion-dollar range, it is crucial that you clearly demonstrate this in your market slide, so the investors can see how they’re putting their money on something that can potentially turn the entire industry on its head.
Show Your Product or Service
Up to this point, most of the things you say are going to be figurative and theoretical. Now, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty detail of your product, what it is, and how it works.
Sure, presenting numbers and statistics is crucial to demonstrating your knowledge of the market you’re getting into, but at the end of the day, it’s the product that does the heavy lifting.
As was already established, investors favor products and services that can prove their longevity and can plant themselves firmly into a particular market for several years. And the product or service you’re looking to launch is going to give them a clear understanding if this is a possibility or not.
Have a demo of the product or service that clearly demonstrates how it works and all the advantages it has. Use the vertical slice method, where you show off a little bit of everything your product is capable of so the investors have a good idea of what it does and how it works.
For example, if you are developing a particular software, demonstrate its functions in different circumstances and in various settings. But don’t go into too much detail. Make use of the visuals as much as possible.
Don’t do too much explaining: use images and videos to visually communicate how the product or service works.
Discuss the Financial Details and Business Model
Financials in general and your business model, in particular, are going to make a huge difference, so you want to put a lot of effort and thinking into this. Because whether you want it or not, most of the investors are interested in their returns. They will need to see how your business is going to turn in profits.
So, start with your business model. Make a slide or two where you explain the latter. You probably know that a business model shows how your business will earn money. Investors will naturally be interested in that.
Then, you will need a slide outlining your revenues vs. your costs, also known as your general financials. Here the investors will look into whether you were able to arrive at an optimal solution in terms of how much you’ll spend versus how much revenues.
Last but not least, it would be great to have your finances projected for at least three years ahead. Some investors may demand 5 years of projection, but that’s unlikely to happen in most cases, so three years should suffice.
Introduce Your Team
You are your product and your company. Sure, you can jump straight to business and talk about your work and what you have to offer, but regardless of how professional the environment you’re presenting in is, the human element is always there.
Trust is a major factor in pitching your business ideas to potential investors and backers and creating an emotional connection is a great way to earn this trust.
Introduce yourself and what you represent, but also remember to introduce the rest of the team in your pitch deck as well. Don’t make it about yourself, as this is a team effort, and it should be presented as such.
This way, you connect with the investors and thereby set the foundation for trust. Just don’t overdo it: at the end of the day, as charming as you may be, they’re here for your product, not your conversational skills.
This slide should be light-hearted and should include photos of the team. If the team is small enough, you can introduce them individually and demonstrate what each member does.
But this works best for smaller startups that typically have 3 members. Any more than 5 members would get somewhat tiring and would be overkill.
Finish Off With Your Contact Information
You can finish off your pitch deck with a contact slide. Keep in mind that nowadays there is a myriad of ways they can communicate with you without having to jot down your contact information.
So, the contact slide isn’t there for the sake of practicality, but rather to show off how far-reaching your modes of communications are, as well as give the investors a taste of your marketing.
Little details like official social media pages can go a long way in demonstrating your marketing strategy and will definitely catch the attention of your investors.
5 Tips to Make a Great Pitch Deck
Cut to the Point
If there is one thing you’ll take away from this article, this should be it. No really, think about this: a bunch of investors has listened to at least a few dozens of pitch decks before yours.
How would you expect them to be focused if you aren’t to the point? So, do not overwhelm your potential investors with info that they will deem unnecessary.
Or, in other words, cut straight to the point!
“Style Over Substance” is a Big No
OK, we all get it — the way things are presented is important. Great presentation skills are a bare minimum you’ve got to have to successfully present your pitch deck.
But relying on style only will yield no results in the end. The investors who you hope will give your business some cash can tell when there is no substance in the pitch deck.
If it’s all beautiful visuals, but your presentation lacks any substance, you might want to rethink things. Balance text and visuals for the best outcome.
Don’t Overdo it With the Statistics
Yes, we did say that it’s critical to focus on substance, but boring your potential investors to death is also not great.
The reason we keep saying “don’t overdo it with the stats” is that a lot of the presenters believe that the more statistics they present the better impression they’ll give off. This isn’t true, though.
First, if you’ve got stats, make sure they are visually appealing. Pay attention to colors, fonts, and textures. This is your chance to shine with the right balance of good styling and great substance that actually adds value.
Second, make sure that only the most important stats are included. Having numbers all over the place will only overwhelm, even confuse your potential investors. In other words, find the right balance.
Have a Second Version of Your Pitch Deck
It might not sound exciting at all, but you do want to have a second version of your pitch deck that will be heavier in terms of text. The preferred format is PDF.
You might ask why?
Well, naturally, you’d expect at least some, preferably most, of the investors to be interested in your business. But they might want to give it a second look and contact you later.
Here’s when your PDF comes into play. You can easily send it over their way through email or have it printed and give the soft copy out to them.
Make Sure it’s Updated
It’s not news that securing any funding is hard. A lot of entrepreneurs pitch their ideas for years before they are able to get funding. And there is nothing bad about it.
Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs had been rejected dozens of times before they finally got any money. All it took them to reach their goals was their unyielding perseverance.
But what does it all mean?
It means one thing: you might be using the same pitch deck for months, maybe years, to pitch to different groups of investors. So, make sure to update all the dates and figures in your presentation accordingly.
For instance, you don’t want your title to say “April 24, 2019” when you’re presenting on May 12, 2021.
To Sum Up
How do you feel now about pitch decks? Consider these tips while making your own pitch deck and see how quickly you’ll get to the point. Make sure to follow every single piece of advice we gave you on how to make a pitch deck and what to do while presenting.
Pay attention to the presented information and include all the important points to convince your audience. We’re sure this will help you get financing for your great business ideas!
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