How to Create a Pitch Deck: Dos, Don’ts, Tips for Presentation

A pitch deck is a business communication tool, most commonly prepared in PowerPoint, which gives an overview of a business and is presented by a start-up owner/entrepreneur to potential investors with a view to raising funds for the business. It could also be done to sell the idea of an existing business to potential partners or clients. Whatever the purpose is, a pitch deck is presented during a physical (or sometimes online) meeting with potential investors/clients.

For entrepreneurs/start-up owners seeking to raise funds for their business, or for business executives seeking to upscale their businesses by pitching to potential clients, it is extremely important to speak the language that investors/clients understand and can relate to, and this can only be professionally done with a pitch deck.

This piece explains what you need to know about pitch deck; how to create a mind-blowing pitch deck, what to avoid, what must be included, and the best way to present your deck to get results.

As mentioned earlier, a pitch deck is usually created in PowerPoint, it is therefore very important to master how to use PowerPoint; this is the least expected of every business/corporate executive.

The first page of a pitch deck should be the Cover Page, this page should feature your business name, business logo, and your business tagline. Also, if you have a picture that perfectly depicts the idea/product that you’re trying to pitch, please use it on this page. You may include the presenter’s name and portfolio if you wish. It is very important to make this page very attractive, this is the first thing they would see, so make that first impression beautiful so you can catch their attention at first glance – humans tend to associate memories with visuals.

The next page should be your Executive Summary/Introduction, this gives a brief about the entire content of your pitch deck. Who are you? What do you do? What are you proposing? How do they come in? Why should they buy into your idea? Use this one stone (page) to “kill all the birds”. Please note that you are not expected to write out all these words in your presentation slides, you are to use points, then speak to explain them. Make sure you say something about every aspect of the pitch deck (the problem, solution, traction, projections…)

Who are Your Team members? Investors want to know who will be in charge of their funds if they eventually put in money; these are the people that will implement whatever idea you are proposing, if they are not worthy, then this will be fruitless. Who are those in this project with you? How experienced are they? Do they have the required expertise? What are their qualifications regarding this project? Do you have a board, advisory or management team? What role does each member perform? Remember to be straight to the point. Try as much as possible to avoid making it appear as a one-man business, you can’t be the only one doing it.

Now, what prompted you to do this? What is The Problem you are trying to solve? What major gap are you trying to fill with this idea? How or why is it really a problem? Is it based on research? Are there data or statistics to back up your claims about the problems? Here, make sure that the problem is something your audience can relate to, and it is advisable to stick to one major problem; you don’t want to appear as unfocused to your audience.

After pointing out the problem, the next is to explain how you plan to solve the problem. This should be Your Solution or Idea to solving the problem. You have to be very careful at this stage, because this could actually be the deciding factor for some investors; how well you are able to explain your solutions show your knowledge/expertise about the idea and it gives your audience the confidence that you can handle it. How does your idea/solution work? Explain the scalability of the idea/solution – is it business worthy? Can it be expanded? Are there likely policy challenges that the idea may face? These are the things investors want to know.

What are the Advantages/Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of the idea/solution? What is so special about it that will make it irresistible? Here, you need to show that idea or solution in action. Describe the solution beautifully. Have you tested it or done market sampling? – Provide evidence and tell your audience about what your target market is saying about it. Are they yearning for it?

There has to be Competition. Are there other companies that are providing a similar solution to what you’re proposing? Are there alternative solutions to the problems? How do you compare to them? Can you disrupt them? What is their valuation? How much market share do they hold? Differentiate yourself from them.

What is your Target Market? How big is it? What is the demography of your target? What is their spending habit? How much is the market worth generally, in previous years and projections? Please include sources and use them adequately.

What are your Marketing/Sales plans? How do you intend to get your idea/solution/product to the market? What strategy would you adopt to get your target market to know about your idea? What is your sales vision?

How do you plan to make money? What is your monthly/annual Projection? How much would you make in the first, second or third year? What would be the percentage increase in your revenue? Some investors would expect a 3year projection, while some may want to see a 5year projection.

Every start-up has a key metric, that is the Traction. It is a measurable data that proves your potential as a business entity. You need to find that single metric and include it to clearly demonstrate your growth. Do you have a 15% month by month revenue growth? Show it.

How much Investment/Amount do you need from the investor? Is it to start out or to scale? Have you raised funds from other sources? Investors want to know who else is part of the company/is likely to be part of the company. Have you raised funds before? What did you do with previous funds? Telling them this would convince them that you can make their money work for them too. All of these will increase their confidence in your ability to manage their money. Also, try not to be specific about the amount you want; instead, tell them the range you want. For instance, if you want to raise N10m, use the range of between N8m and N12m. This is because some investors may have a cap/limitation on their investments; they may not want to spend more that N8m, if you ask for N10m they may not consider you. Remember to also tell them how much equity they would be getting for their cash.

You may also include the Exit Strategy; if all these plans do not work out, how would they get their money (or part of it) back?

The last page should be your Contact. Let them know how to get in touch with you if they are interested in your idea.

Here are a few other tips that may be helpful:

  • On the average, your pitch deck should be about 20 slides
  • Avoid wordy slides, use pictures and illustrations
  • Your confidence is very important
  • Simplicity is always better, make it current/modern too
  • Don’t forget to ask for the money, that’s the reason for all these
  • If you’re sending your deck, send it as a PDF file

How do you end?

  • Invite them to come on board
  • Remind them of what they’ld  miss if they don’t invest in your idea

What are investors looking out for?

  • Your business model
  • Your team skills, experience, track record
  • Competitive Advantage and Sustainability
  • How much they would make in return

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