Posted on
April 21, 2020
~
10
min read

What is a Pitch Deck?

Julian Droste
Founder, Digital Marketer & SEO

Are you a new start-up hungry for investors? Or, are you an established business with a fresh new project that needs to be readily conveyed to stakeholders? Whatever the case, you'll need a clear way to spread your message and your plans.

If you're a business with new ideas and new plans, you'll probably be needing a sleek pitch deck. But what is a pitch deck? And how can you create the perfect one to convey your message clearly and succinctly?

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know. Using this guide, you'll be well on your way to crafting the perfect pitch deck for your needs. No problem.

What Is a Pitch Deck?

A pitch deck is a slide deck or presentation used to give potential investors or partners a brief overview of your company and its purpose. But, a pitch deck is much more than just a simple presentation. For maximum effect, it is important that your pitch deck be carefully prepared.

At the end of the day, a pitch deck is a sales technique. The purpose of a pitch deck is to secure funding or to help your product or company stand apart while in competition or at other events. The ultimate goal of a pitch deck is to grab and hold attention.

A pitch deck should be brief, but detailed. It is important to contain all the key information within just a few clean slides. You should always begin with a powerful, but descriptive, statement about your business and close with a call to action.

When you create a pitch deck, you should have a few goals in mind. You'll want to convey your message, but you also need to keep the conversation moving and get people excited. The pitch deck won't secure your funding, but it will be what gets your foot in the door.

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What Is a Pitch Deck Used For?

Here's a secret: investors aren't actually all that interested in your company. They're interested in making their money back, and then some. Investors want to know they'll be making back a huge Return on Investment (ROI).

The purpose of your pitch deck is to convince them of your company's ability to do just that. You need to not only talk about your product or business, but you need to do so convincingly. Investors see thousands of product ideas, so you need to be sure that yours is the one that stands apart.

Of course, you want to highlight your idea or purpose. And you should. But, your ideas ability to become a successful and profitable business is even more important.

Having a great business idea isn't enough. You need to generate excitement. To do that, you'll need a presentation that is promising, interesting, and engaging.  

Remember, the pitch deck is the first step in the fundraising process. Your pitch presentation must tell a compelling story about your business and the direction it is going in.  

What Should You Include in a Pitch Deck?

When making your pitch deck, you're going to want to keep it brief. It can be tempting to dump all the information you can into your presentation. But, in order to keep it engaging, you're going to need to prioritize.

There is no "perfect" way to create a pitch deck. However, a good rule of thumb is to keep it around 10-15 slides, with a presentation of about 20 minutes. You should also make an effort not to bog your slides down with too much text.

Include only high-level information in your pitch deck. You'll want numbers, yes, but keep it simple. It can also be helpful to spruce your pitch deck up with animations and sleek graphics.

Using a pitch deck template when creating your presentation can definitely help take your pitch to the next level.

The Parts of a Pitch Deck

While there are many ways to create an effective pitch deck, most of them have a few things in common. Remember, a pitch deck is a story. It should have an introduction, discussion, and conclusion that calls your investors into action.

Every good story has a conflict. So, be sure to outline the problem that your product or business is the solution for. Then, provide your audience with the information they want: how your business tackles the problem.

Finally, most great stories have happy endings. You want to end your presentation with a call to action, but you also want to remain optimistic. If your product or business is the future, make sure it looks like a happy one.

Let's break down each of the parts in detail. Remember there is no singular way to order these. But, the information must be there and it must tell a great story along the way.

1. Introduction

Everybody knows the importance of first impressions. That rule is no different when it comes to your slide decks. Highlight your logo, company name, and a succinct but powerful description right off the bat.

The key to a powerful introduction is a powerful value phrase. You need to keep it short, but explanatory. The ability to summarize your company while still intriguing your audience is vital.

A good example of a great introductory phrase comes from AirBnB. The phrase was used in a 2007 pitch deck that earned the team $600,000. Their concise 7-word phrase was, "Book rooms with locals, rather than hotels."

A simple summary of your business or product is all it takes. This is the most high-level description of your company you can give. After all, this is your chance to hook your audience.

2. The Problem

After introducing your idea, you need to explain to investors where it comes from. Enter, the problem. The antagonist of your story, the problem should explain a void in the market that you are here to address.

Also important to include, is the magnitude of the problem. How many people does it affect? Why is it important this problem be solved, and why now?

Again, it is important to keep it concise. It can be tempting to give a lengthy description of the problem. In fact, the first time you write it out, you'll probably have over 100 words of information.

It can be a process, but it's important to cut down your description. Try to keep it to 2 or 3 sentences, so it's easy for investors to follow. Using bolded keywords can be a great way to highlight the most pressing issues.

3. The Solution

Now, it's time to lay down your proposed solution. Talk about your product optimistically, but not arrogantly. Focus on how your product addresses the previously proposed problem.

You might start noticing a trend here. Once again, you need to keep this section short, sweet, and easy to follow. Again, try to stick to 2 or 3 main points.

When making a pitch deck, it's good to get familiar with the art of summarizing. Presenting information in layers, bit by bit, can be a great way to get it all out there. Focus on the most high-level information.

What do you really want your investors or audience to know? Highlight those key points.

4. Target Market and Opportunity

Your target market is key to determining your funding. Remember, investors are seeking a major ROI. If your market is too small or the demand is too low, they likely won't be chomping at the bit to invest.

Using your research, this slide can be used to graph out the past market growth and future market growth for your product's target. This will help investors visualize your product's marketable future. Having solid data can be incredibly helpful at this stage.

Start-ups often use the TAM SAM SOM analysis to estimate the size of their market. To do this, you'll need to calculate three key indicators:

  • TAM - Size of the total market possible (Total Addressable Market)
  • SAM - The market size you're able to serve (Served Available Market)
  • SOM - The amount of SAM you estimate can become customers (Serviceable Obtainable Market)

Presenting this information in a graph can help make it visually engaging. It can also help present it in a clear, easy to follow way.

5. Product

This is your chance to present your product or service. What is it you're actually selling? Again, it is important to be clear and concise.

If you're selling an actual physical product, make sure you include some photographs of the product from different angles. It is important investors get a good sense of what it is you're trying to sell. Highlighting the features and materials of your product can help engage your audience.

If you're selling an app or service, use this as an opportunity to show off some of the unique features included. Screenshots or other visual aids can be helpful, as they will allow your audience easy visualization. Video links can also be embedded into your presentation for a more in-depth look at your offering.

The key here is to generate interest. While the product itself likely won't win you the sale, it is important to convince your audience of its viability. It is also important to position your product or service as unique to help set it apart from any potential competition.

6. Plan and Strategy

How do you intend to market your product? What is your high-level growth strategy? This is the place to present this key information to your audience.

Remember, keep it simple. Focus on high-level goals and actions. Highlight the channels you'll use to market, how you'll engage the industry and other key points of your growth strategy.

This section can be split into two slides: one for business and one for marketing. However, if you can summarize it in one, even better. The ultimate goal here is to convince your audience of the viability of your growth.

Investors want that ROI. Here is where you can convince them that you'll achieve just that. Strategies should be thought-out, but simple so investors can understand them and be convinced by them in a snap.

You can also use a timeline or phase structure to present this information. This can help provide a clean, simplified outline that boils your strategy down to a few key points or goals.

7. Traction

This slide should only be included if you've already had some success or validation in the market. This is where you'll focus on the growth of your business. Highlight the sales you've made, goals you've achieved, and where you plan to go next.

For young companies, presenting your traction can make all the difference. Investors want to know that you're a valid product. This is your opportunity to show them.

You don't need much data here, as long as you know how to present it. A simple map or graph of your growth and projections can move mountains. Visual aids can be helpful in reducing the risk for investors.

8. Team

The importance of this slide cannot be understated. Financial information is pivotal, but investors also want to be convinced of the capability of your team. Don't be afraid to highlight the abilities of each core team member.

What makes your team the right team for this business? What drives your team to be the solution? What is it about your team that ensures your product or service will be successful?

Investors want to know they can trust those they're investing in. Express what your team is good at. Highlight key members and what they're bringing to the table.

Use pictures and bullet points to introduce your team. Don't get too long-winded trying to elevate your team. Highlight a few key points for each member, focusing on the unique talent or ability they're bringing to your mission.

Stay focused on only the core members. Too many people on this slide can get overwhelming. Advisors don't need to be included here.

9. Competition

It might seem counter-productive to mention the other products or services addressing the same problem as you. But, it's important to address them and why you're a cut above any competition.

Investors want to see that you've done your research. Acknowledging your competition lets them know that you've done your market deep-dive. It also shows that if there are other companies addressing your problem, the demand for your product is high.

The key here is to know your market ecosystem and where you fit into it. Highlight the advantages of your idea. Make sure your audience can easily see what sets you apart from the competition.

10. Financials

This will likely be the most important slide to your investors. You'll need to include your projected growth over the next 3-5 years, as well as details about your business model and financial strategy.

Investors are looking for competency, as well as growth potential. Colorful charts and graphs can be incredibly helpful here, as they simplify information while allowing investors easy visualization. It is important the financial information comes from solid sources, not just wild guesses or projections.

Focus on real-world data and educated assumptions for potential growth. Investors want to see that you're a viable product and that you've done your homework.

11. Investment and Use of Funds

As you near the end of your presentation, it is important investors know what exactly their investment is for. Make sure it is clear what you're asking for and why. Justifying your ask can create a sense of security for your investors, letting them know their money won't be going to waste.

Your strategy is important here. Be realistic and don't aim too high. Make sure your bases are covered, and you'll be much more likely to land some financial help.

12. Acknowledgements and Call to Action

Don't forget to thank your investors for their time. Keep it simple here. A nice final slide can include just the words "thank you," your phrase from the opener, and a powerful call to action.

Every call to action will be different, depending on the tone of your presentation. What's important is that your audience knows you'll be expecting some form of response.

Pitch Deck Mistakes to Avoid

Every pitch deck is different. Now that you know what should be included, you should also know some common pitfalls that need to be avoided. An effective pitch deck will be clean, brief, and descriptive.

It can also be helpful to get a review of your pitch deck. This can help you create the cleanest possible deck. It can also set you up for a dynamite presentation.

Here are a few common mistakes that can be easily avoided:

Too Much Text

No one is going to want to read a wordy slide. Putting too much text per slide can lose the attention of your audience. Summarize with bullet points and use visual aids to help keep the focus on you and your presentation, not the slides themselves.

Too Much Information

A good presentation will focus on the high-level information. You won't be able to present every detail, so prioritize and highlight only the key points. Arrange your presentation so the most vital information stands out.

Niche Information

Never assume your audience will understand all the information you present. Your audience likely won't be as familiar with certain information as you are. Make your descriptions and summaries as clear as possible to avoid niche information audiences may not understand.

Not Tailoring Your Message

Not every audience is the same. Make sure your presentation is tailored for whichever audience you are presenting to. For example, a pitch deck presented in-person and a pitch deck sent by email will need to contain different structures and information.

Lack of Transparency

Metrics and explanations of data need to be clear. They also need to be honest. Having falsified or confusing information can destroy a great pitch in an instant.

Bad Endings

Your investors are going to remember your ending better than almost any other part of your presentation. Make sure it's a strong one. Don't forget to include a powerful call to action and thank your investors for your time.

Remember, the pitch isn't over until you walk out of the room. Let your audience know what it is you want. Leave with impact and investors will be sure to remember you.

Poor Time Management

Keep track of how much time you're spending on your presentation. Don't spend too long in the beginning, only to rush through the important information in the middle and end of your presentation.

Investors also don't want to listen to your pitch all day. Practicing your presentation is key to getting your timing just right. You want your presentation to be concise, fluid, and complete.

Pitch Deck Examples

When making your pitch deck, it can be helpful to look at examples from some of the top dogs of industry. Remember, every major company likely started with an effective pitch deck. Some pitch decks to check out include:

Facebook

Launched in 2004, Facebook was originally marketed as "thefacebook." Today, the company has grown to a $140 billion valuation with over 360 million users. All of that began with a simple pitch deck.

This deck was particularly effective at showing what the platform was and how it became increasingly popular from university to university. They also included media quotes to validate the company and highlight its potential.

Uber

With over $14 in revenue in 2019 alone, Uber has quickly become the king of ride-sharing services since its founding in 2011. Their initial pitch deck was particularly effective at highlighting the solution Uber offered. By focusing on the problem the service was addressing, they positioned themselves as the app of the future.

LinkedIn

Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has built a base of 630 million users in 150 different countries. Their lengthy pitch deck is a great example of a deck used to obtain seed funding. LinkedIn used their deck not only to convey its potential growth but the potential growth of the Internet itself.

A Pitch Deck for Every Enterprise

Now, you no longer have to ask yourself "What is a pitch deck?" If you've got an idea, a product, or a startup that needs investors, you need a pitch deck. Pitch decks clarify your business goals, messages, and offerings in an ever-changing world.

Our pitch deck services and templates can help you rise to the top of the global business class. Contact us today to begin crafting your perfect pitch deck. With our help, you might just find yourself at the top of the market.

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Julian Droste
Founder, Digital Marketer & SEO

Writer, content producer and SEO Julian Droste is the author and father of our entrepreneur-helping blog and website. Since the beginning of 2015, Julian has created over 400+ articles about a wide range of topics e.g., math, biology, chemistry, history, engineering, and many more.

His passion for entrepreneurship, presentations, and speeches led him to basetemplates where he can share his experience in building a startup with future entrepreneurs.

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