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What Is a Pitch Deck? A Simple Definition and Five Best Practices

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If you're bootstrapping a SaaS company, there's one thing you absolutely must get right. 

Your logo might not be that impressive. Your website might need some help. Your offices might be a little messy.

But if you can get this one thing right, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.

What is it?

Your BIG idea.

In the real world, you need to bring your BIG idea to life. You need to show people what you're working on and get their feedback.

That's where a pitch deck comes in.

A pitch deck is a presentation that you use to summarize your business and how it works. It introduces your brand to potential investors, clients, and partners.

Today, we'll walk you through the basics of creating a pitch deck. Then, we'll give you five best practices to make sure your pitch is a knockout.

What Is a Pitch Deck?

Pitch decks have one specific purpose — to communicate the value of your business.

To do so, every pitch deck must accomplish two things:

  • Explain your business clearly and concisely.
  • Communicate why your business is worth investing in.

A great pitch deck is clear, concise, and visually appealing. It tells a story about your business and why it matters. It also leaves the viewer with a clear understanding of what you're trying to achieve.

It's important to note that a pitch deck is not a business plan. A business plan is a more in-depth document that goes into detail about your company, its history, and its future.

A pitch deck should be short and to the point. It should communicate the most important aspects of your business.

For example, here's a slide from LinkedIn's 2004 pitch deck to investors. It clearly explains what LinkedIn does and why it's worth investing in it (the size of the market, the competitive advantage, etc.).

<iframe src=”//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/CbuIohJKKg4hfa” width=”595″ height=”485″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;” allowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”//www.slideshare.net/webjoe/linkedin-deck-27367069″ title=”Linkedin Series B Pitch Deck” target=”_blank”>Linkedin Series B Pitch Deck</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”//www.slideshare.net/webjoe” target=”_blank”>Joseph Hsieh</a></strong> </div>

Why Do You Need a Top-Notch Pitch Deck?

Some founders won't like this, but… 

You aren't the only genius in town.

In 2021, there were over 15,000 SaaS companies in the U.S. (the number is probably higher now).

Your idea might be amazing, but it's not the only amazing idea out there.

To get people's attention, you must communicate the value of your business and how it stacks up against the competition.

A great pitch deck is the best way to do that.

A pitch deck shows investors, clients, and partners that you understand your business and the market. It also shows that you're serious about your company and that you have a plan to achieve success.

Some other benefits of creating a great pitch deck include:

  • Collect actionable feedback: Get feedback from investors, clients, and partners and understand what they think is valuable about your business.
  • Make a great first impression: People are busy. They don't have time to read your entire business plan. Your pitch deck should give them a snapshot of your business and why it's worth their time.
  • Generate interest: The more people who see your pitch deck, the more chances you have of getting funded, hired, or partnered with.

Seven Best Practices To Craft a Dazzling Pitch Deck

Many pitch decks are clumsy, messy, and hard to grasp. So what separates great pitch decks from the rest?

Here are seven best practices to keep in mind:

1. Keep It Simple

The best pitch decks are simple and easy to understand.

But simple doesn't mean “dumbed-down.”  Your pitch deck should still be informative and accurate. It's just that you don't need to include every little detail about your business.

Avoid cramming too much information into each slide. Focus on the most important points and leave out the rest.

For example, if you're trying to explain your business model, just include a high-level overview. You can go into more detail in a separate document.

Also, use images and charts to illustrate your points, rather than text-heavy slides. People are naturally visual learners and they'll be able to understand your slides better if they're not cluttered with text.

2. Keep It Short

Most people stick around for just a few minutes.

If you want to hold someone's attention, you need to get to the point quickly.

The ideal pitch deck is between 10-15 slides. That's enough to communicate the most important aspects of your business without overwhelming the viewer.

Our advice:

Get a business partner, a friend, or a family member to help you practice your pitch. Have them time you and make sure you stick to 10-15 slides.

Cut unnecessary slides. 

If a slide doesn't contribute to your message, get rid of it.

Some of the most critical slides include:

  • The introduction
  • The problem
  • The solution
  • The product in action
  • Your business model
  • Financials
  • Market adoption and competition

This doesn't mean you can't include additional information, but be mindful of the overall length of your pitch deck.

3. Start With a Bang

Your pitch deck should start with a bang. Capture your viewers attention and make them want to learn more about your business.

There are several good techniques for crafting attention-grabbing introductions. Here are five of our favorites:

Start with a story

Stories are a great way to capture people's attention and make them want to learn more about your business. They're also a great way to illustrate your points.

For example, if you're trying to explain how your product works, start with a story about one of your users. How did your product help them solve a problem? What were the results? How did they feel?

Our brains are wired to pay more attention to stories than to dry facts and statistics.

Remember those old children's books that began with “once upon a time?”

They used storytelling to capture the reader's attention and engage them in the story.

The same principle applies to pitch decks.

Start with a powerful anecdote, story, fable, or analogy that hooks your viewer and makes them want to learn more.

Include a powerful statistic

Statistics are another great way to grab people's attention and make them want to learn more about your business.

For example, if you're trying to explain how your product is changing the industry, include a stat that showcases different trends and how your product is contributing to them.

Or, if you're trying to attract investors, include a statistic about the size of the market and how much money is up for grabs.

By supporting your points with statistics, you're showing your viewer that you've done your homework and that your business is worth taking seriously.

Start with a rhetorical question

When you're presenting your pitch deck, grabbing the audience's attention is difficult.

Want to know a shortcut?

Start with a rhetorical question.

Rhetorical questions are questions that don't require an answer. They're used to make a point or to start a discussion.

For example, if you're trying to introduce your company, you could ask:

Why are so many businesses still relying on outdated technology?

Or, if you want to highlight your competitive advantages:

Why are our competitors falling behind?

By asking a rhetorical question, you're capturing your viewer's attention and making them want to see how you'll answer it.

Some rhetorical questions you could try include:

  • Is there a better way to…?
  • Who wouldn't want to…?
  • Do we really want to continue doing…?
  • Can we really afford to…?
  • Why do we continue to…?

4. Use a Fresh Perspective

Can we be honest for a minute? 

When you're pitching your business, you're not just pitching it to investors.

You're also pitching to clients, stakeholders, and anyone who has the power to help your business grow.

To engage them all, you need to use a variety of perspectives.

For example, if you're trying to attract investors, focus on the financial benefits of investing in your business.

If you're trying to attract clients, focus on how your product will help them solve their problems.

If you're trying to engage stakeholders, focus on how your product will help the company meet its goals.

By using a fresh perspective in each section of your pitch deck, you're engaging your viewer's interests and making them want to learn more.

5. Use Images and Graphics

By now, we've established the benefit of using images and graphics in your pitch deck.

Images are a great way to capture people's attention and help them understand your points.

Graphics are a great way to showcase your data and make it more engaging.

You might have heard that “an image is worth a thousand words,” which is true… to an extent. A more accurate statement would be…

“The right image, at the right time, is worth a thousand words.”

When you're using images and graphics in your pitch deck, make sure they support your points and help explain your message.

Also, be careful not to overload your deck with too many images. A few strategically placed images will do the trick.

Our suggestions:

  • Avoid using clip art: Clip art sends the message that you didn't put any effort into your deck. Worse, it makes your business look unprofessional. Instead, use images that are relevant to your business and that support your message.
  • Use high-quality images: If you're going to use images in your pitch deck, make sure they're high-quality. Poorly-done images will only distract from your message and make your deck look unprofessional.
  • Include graphs and charts: Graphics are a great way to showcase your data and make it more engaging.

Put These Tips Into Practice

There you have it, our top seven best practices for creating a kick-butt pitch deck in 2022.

Follow these suggestions closely and your pitch deck will look polished, professional, and ready to slay any investor.

But don't just take our word for it – put these tips into practice and see for yourself how your pitch deck improves.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to practicing your pitch and perfecting your deck. 

So get to work and show the world what your business is made of!

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