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A great pitch deck can help you secure funding, land new clients, and grow your business.
But what makes a great pitch deck? And more importantly, what should you include?
In this blog post, we'll walk you through the anatomy of the perfect pitch deck, and highlight the 8 elements you MUST include.
Whether you're preparing for your next big investor meeting or just want to make sure your deck is up to scratch, this guide will give you a head start on creating a positive first impression.
Let's start with the basics.
A pitch deck is a critical tool for communicating your business model. It must be truly persuasive to make the best possible impression on investors, customers, and potential business partners.
Investors expect you to be thoroughly prepared so they can assess your startup's viability. But it's not just about impressing VCs; you also need to show clients, partners, and employees how your business model works.
You might think this sounds like a big task, but there are a few basic rules that will help you create a deck that is simple and effective.
And many others.
We'll cover the exact elements you must include a bit later, but first, let's answer a crucial question:
A good pitch deck is memorable, surprising, and intuitive. It captures an audience's attention immediately and provides the information they want to know.
It's also good to think about your audience. Who are you pitching to? What do they need to hear? Remember, a great pitch deck is a targeted sales tool.
Without the right pitch deck, you could lose investors or clients, making your business much harder to launch or grow.
For example, if your deck is too basic or outdated, you might lose interest. If it's confusing or complicated, people won't understand what you're trying to do, which could hurt your credibility.
At the end of the day, you want your deck to be effective and memorable, so let's get into the details of what makes a great pitch deck.
A great pitch deck is a bit like a great speech. It has a clear beginning, middle, and end. It tells a story that makes an argument and provides evidence to support it along the way.
You'll need to ensure your deck provides the following information:
This is where you highlight the obstacles that have made your product idea a necessity.
For example, Airbnb wanted to counteract the rising costs of traveling and pricey hotel rooms by making it easier for people to rent out their apartments. Netflix wanted to offset sky-high movie rental fees, while Spotify wanted to offer access to music across all devices.
Your business must fill a need, and your pitch deck is the place to prove this.
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is failing to provide enough proof of the problem. If you don't do this, no one will understand your business model.
There are different ways to present the problem:
a) A dry problem statement
Don't just dump a long list of problems on your audience. It's better to come up with an eye-catching headline that summarizes your business in a witty way.
b) A narrative
People are far more likely to be persuaded by an anecdote than by a list. For example: “I lost my cat and had to board him overnight, spending over $100 for a service I could have got at home. This isn't ideal.”
c) A provocative statistic
You could also quote a startling statistic to really grab your audience's attention. For example: “New data suggests that over $1 trillion worth of products are returned every year.”
Once you've outlined your problem, it's time to set up your solution.
This will follow the same basic formula: a clever and engaging headline, followed by a narrative that illustrates how your product works.
For instance, Airbnb's pitch deck started with “Book rooms with locals, rather than hotels.”
Rather than explaining the solution in long-form, you should keep it simple. Your narrative may include a story about how your product idea came to be, but it should still be direct and to the point.
It's also important to emphasize that you've already validated your solution and made sure there is a demand for it. This will reassure your audience that your business is worth investing in.
For example, the guys from Airbnb didn't just say they had a great idea for a travel website. They shared data showing how their service surpassed traditional accommodation in price and convenience.
They also demonstrated that people wanted to use their service, by showcasing how early adopters had booked millions of dollars in rentals.
Now you need to show investors and clients what your product looks like.
You should include two things:
1) Your product in action
Demonstrate how your product works, and what it looks like in practice. This will help people understand exactly what they can expect if they decide to work with you.
Instead of just writing about the features, you'll want to create a visual or video demonstration of your product in action. This will give your audience a much better sense of what you're proposing.
2) The customer experience
You should also include a rough draft of what the customer experience would look like.
For example, customers using your product might see an e-commerce site that is specifically tailored to their needs or a sleek virtual reality demo.
The idea is to give investors an idea of how your product will look, feel, or function.
By giving potential investors a sneak peek of what your product will look like, you're giving them something they can imagine using themselves.
At this point, you should have your audience's attention. Now it's time to talk about the business model behind your product.
Your business model should be as simple as possible, so the audience can understand how it works.
If you include a complicated business structure or a bunch of technical jargon, your audience will get confused and lose interest.
For example, this is how Airbnb presented its business model:
Don't try to make it sound more complicated than it is. The simpler you keep it, the more likely your audience will be to understand it.
Now that you've explained what your business does and how it works, you should demonstrate how people will adopt your product.
For example: “According to a ComScore report, just under half of all shoppers research products on their smartphones before they buy in-store.”
The main thing you should do is reference statistics that highlight how large the market is, and how much demand there is for your product.
For instance, you might say something like “There are over 2 billion people on social media channels worldwide.”
You should also include any other information that shows people are interested in your product and will be willing to use it.
You should also mention any competitors' businesses and why your product differentiates from them.
For example, you might say “We're different from other apps because we offer an interactive 3D experience, which our competitors don't.”
You might also refer to any patents or trademarks you have, as well as anything that makes your product superior.
The point is to show potential investors and clients how your product is different from what's already available, and why people will want to use it.
Some ideas to present this information include:
At this point, you should transition to sharing some financial data. After all, investors want to know how much money your company is making (or will make) and how much money it will need to keep operating.
You don't need to include every single detail of your financial information (e.g., opening and closing figures for each month), but you should still give an outline of your projected expenses and earnings.
If you include graphs and charts in your pitch deck, make sure they're simple and easy to understand.
Your pitch deck should end with a summary of what you've covered, along with some actionable tasks that people can do next.
For example, you might say something like “At this point, I'd like to ask you for five minutes of your time to walk you through our product and show you how to get started.”
You should also include a brief list of the benefits your business will bring, as well as any other pieces of information that will help your audience get on board with what you're proposing.
Remember; you only have a few minutes to grab people's attention, so you need to make sure your pitch deck is clear and concise.
The whole “pitch deck” idea is to make your business more memorable. You need to stand out from other brands that are pitching to investors.
Here's where the SUCCESs framework comes in handy.
SUCCESs stands for Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Story-based.
This framework was introduced by Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their book Made to Stick.
The Heath brothers studied why some ideas can “stick” in the minds of people while others just fade away. By studying the most memorable ideas in history, they identified some common qualities:
Many people believe that simple = dumbed-down. But simplicity is more about finding the core of your idea and cutting out anything that's not vital.
Your pitch deck should be pretty simple. You don't want to overwhelm your audience with a ton of information or too many details.
Stay on-brand and keep it concise.
This is where you can get creative. Find a way to make your business stand out from the crowd.
You don't have to get crazy here, but you should definitely be thinking about how you can show investors that your business is unique and interesting.
For example, you might want to try using a funny video, creating an infographic to show off your brand personality, or including some customer testimonials.
Instead of focusing on the elements that make your business seem “boring” (e.g. your target market and how you're going to reach them), think about ways you can be more “exciting.”
Concreteness is about using specific, tangible details to get your point across.
In other words, don't get too vague. Try to get as specific as possible.
For example, instead of talking about what your team will be like, tell the audience how many people you plan to hire and why those specific people will be vital to your business.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself when you're trying to achieve concreteness:
By answering some of these questions, you should be able to make your pitch deck more concrete.
Your business idea is new and fresh, but that doesn't mean that the audience needs to take a big leap of faith with you.
You can make your pitch deck more credible by providing tangible proof of what you're saying.
For example, if your business offers a new type of product or service, you might want to include testimonials from your beta users.
You can also include links to articles or other third-party sources that back up what you're saying. This way, you're not just throwing out figures and stats without any proof.
One of the best ways to make your pitch deck more engaging is to tap into the emotions of your audience.
This doesn't mean that you should get overly zealous and cheesy with the presentation. But, you should try to make your business seem like an exciting and worthwhile investment.
For example, if the statistics you're using are “boring,” you might want to use more casual language or include some anecdotes to bring the stats to life.
Another way to add an emotional element is by finding emotional connections between your business and potential customers.
For example, you might want to tap into their fear of missing out on a new trend or their desire to have more free time. You can also get your audience emotionally invested by including personal stories from yourself or the rest of your team.
People are naturally wired to respond to stories.
Don't present your pitch deck as a series of bullet points or random facts. You should make it as narrative-driven as possible.
The beginning of your story is where you introduce the problem that your business will solve. Then you transition into the solution.
At the end of your presentation, you should tie everything together to show why your business is relevant and how it will change people's lives for the better.
The story-based approach is really useful because it helps you establish rapport with your audience and makes your business seem more relatable.
The answer, of course, is different for every business. But you can take some cues from other successful decks and combine them with your unique spin.
The perfect pitch isn't made up of all the same elements. Instead, it's a combination of unique and compelling storytelling; concrete proof; emotional connections; and an engaging narrative.
But remember, you'll never get it right on your first try. Be ready to make tweaks and adjustments as you receive feedback from your audience.
The bottom line is to have fun with it and experiment until you find a formula that works for your business.
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