By Erin Bury
Pitch decks are important for any early-stage startup, not just to help secure investment, but also to help articulate the messaging and story behind the company. Most entrepreneurs agonize over what to include and what to leave out. Recently I’ve created and edited over 20 pitch decks, both for my own company, companies I advise and companies in the NEXT Canada startup programs (transparency: I’m an advisor to NEXT Canada, and we work with them at our communications agency). Working on so many pitch decks highlighted the elements that make a strong presentation — so if you’re working on building yours from scratch or just looking to revise it for a new round of funding, here are a few key things to remember.
••Ensure you tell a story that helps your audience connect with the problem you’re solving. There’s one of two ways to weave a narrative into your pitch deck — the first is to highlight a problem you faced that led you to launch the company, and that also highlights the problem you’re solving; or highlight a problem an actual customer or fictional potential customer is facing, and present your product or service as the best solution to that problem. It’s the same reason most TV news segments don’t start with a news anchor talking about a big snowstorm, they start by introducing you to someone affected by the snowstorm and telling their story. It creates an emotional connection, and allows your audience to put themselves in your customers’ shoes.
••Don’t assume your audience members are experts in your industry. Whether you’re in a boardroom with two investors or at a large demo day event with hundreds of media, investors and stakeholders in the audience, it’s likely that not everyone will be familiar with your industry or the problem you’re solving. Often entrepreneurs will use jargon specific to their industry, or in some cases their product is extremely complex and can be difficult to articulate clearly in a short presentation. Your pitch deck should be clear and straightforward enough that anyone can understand what you do and your key value proposition, so avoid acronyms, technical terms and industry jargon. When in doubt, have a few friends or family members to listen to your pitch first, and ask them to highlight any terms they didn’t understand or slides that left them confused.
•• Keep the content to a minimum, but practice your presentation as much as possible. The best pitch decks have minimal copy and content, and allow the entrepreneur to speak to the images on the screen without distracting the audience. Chances are if you have a lot of copy on a slide, people will be reading that instead of listening to you. Use the copy to punctuate what you say in your presentation — then create a second version of your pitch deck that has more content and can be sent to investors without an accompanying phone call or presentation. When the copy is minimal, your verbal presentation becomes even more important. Preparation is key, so write out a rough script of what you want to say, and then practice it over and over (alone, in front of your team, and in front of friends or family) until you can give a confident, clearly articulated, well-paced version of your presentation — one that adheres to time limits if they apply. The best pitch deck in the world will get lost if a founder can’t sell the vision in their presentation.
A great pitch deck isn’t as important as a great idea, but it’s often your one shot at articulating why you’re the next big thing with just a few slides and a few short minutes. Take the time to craft a story that sells your idea, and ensure you can sell it to your audience and you’ll have a better shot of leaving them wanting more.
Erin Bury is managing director at Eighty-Eight, a digital marketing and design agency in Toronto.
Source : https://business.financialpost.com/entrepreneur/0918-biz-eb-erin-fpe722