Pitch deck slides abound and invariably you’re reading the same article over and over again about how you need 10 pitch slides starting with the Problem Solution and ending with the Ask. If you’re struggling to get started with your deck, do a google search for the 10 Pitch Deck Slides and you’ll get more advice than you can count. If you’re looking for the more sophisticated narrative, read Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and then learn about The Perfect Startup Pitch here.
We’re not going there in this article, this is a punch list of dos and don’ts for your pitch slides themselves.
What NOT To Do In Your Pitch Slides (Don’ts)
- Exceed 20 words: One headline & one sentence. You’re slides are NOT your script and they aren’t the story you should be telling the audience. That audience should should grasp in a heartbeat what your slide is conveying as if they’re reading it they’re not listening to you.
- Use buzzwords. If you’re disrupting social innovation following your pivot from crowdsourced gamification, go home.
- Skimp on design. This bugs me the most as you’ll hear advisors and investors tell you they don’t care about how your slides look because they’d rather you be spending your time on your business. Bullshit (excuse my French). You don’t need a material design from a $200/hr designer but make your slides look good. You are reflecting the quality of your business (I love that presentation about material design as it makes my point. A design presentation that isn’t designed?!).
- Be presumptuous. Your audience didn’t read your brief, you aren’t better than your competitors, they don’t agree with your thesis nor solution. Your job in your pitch is to educate and compel them, don’t presume anything!
What the Ideal Pitch Slides Should Do
Start where we ended the don’ts. Be compelling. How the heck do you do that?? You tell a short story with your pitch. You have little more than a few minutes to capture and compel my interest so get your Dr. Seuss on and make a point. No, don’t start rhyming, try once upon a time…
- A neat trick to appear more sophisticated and weave a narrative throughout your slides? Create a transition element. You click a slide, it changes. Blah. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want you to use those wipe functions that swirl in the next! Create an on brand icon: your logo, an element that conveys your product, or a design feature that looks like your app. Now use it, don’t just click to the next slide, click it. Seems a little silly and overly complicated but you’ve just conveyed in a slide transition how easy it is to engage with your brand – using an element that will stick in people’s minds as you carry them through your story.
- Convey emotions as no one is looking at your chart anyway. Remember that no one is listening to you if reading your slides? Your embedded spreadsheet is just as mind numbing. Don’t show me the growth rate of the metropolitan area of major cities, show me urban density and I know your market.
- Don’t demo your product, mock it up. In the slides that is; if you want to demo your product, by all means, but in your slides I don’t want to see 4 screen shots of how it works. When you introduce your solution, show me an ideal but perhaps unrealistic version that conveys what it does.
- Exit. Chew on that for a moment as it means a lot of different things: wrap up your presentation & make it clear you’re done – the most cringe-worthy pitches are those that end with a judge or your host asking, “is that it?” But more importantly – think in terms of an exit. Investors aren’t there to help you and they can’t read your mind. Think EXIT – tell them what you need and tell them the return on investment they can expect.
- Have an appendix as you really must limit the presentation to 10 slides but you want to be prepared to answer every conceivable question with ‘being prepared’ the key phrase. If it might come up, have the pitch slides ready.
There you have it. 10 dos and don’ts to be pitch slide perfect. What’s on your list of tips to make the perfect slide deck?