How to create the ultimate pitch deck

“You can’t blame it on PowerPoint. …” 

-David Byrne

To paraphrase Winston S. Churchill, PowerPoint is the worst tool for presentations, except for all the others. 

Most of us have had the misfortune of sitting through a long and painful PowerPoint presentation; dozens of slides packed together with bad clip art, complicated graphs and long, unedited copy – usually accompanied by a speaker that is simply reading the very words we can see on the screen. 

In truth, PowerPoint is a simple and effective tool for presenting complex ideas. But where it may not require a lot of technical skills to use, it does require some planning and discipline to be an effective pitch tool.

Assuming you’ve gone through the process of “Preparing The Pitch,” in the previous chapter, then you are now ready to take all that information and start building your 10-slide presentation. Wait…what? 10 slides! Yep, and that includes the title – so technically nine.

Creating A Winning 10- Slide Presentation

There are a number of theories and best practices on how to build the perfect PowerPoint presentation, but these are usually focused on business meetings with colleagues or potential customers and partners. These presentations may require more slides, more graphs and more information. But when you are asking someone for money, the biggest mistake would be to throw a giant haystack at them. Your job in this meeting is to hand- deliver the needle.

A few years ago, marketing guru and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki wrote about his  10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, which states that a presentation should contain no more than 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes and contain text no smaller than 30 point. Although he wrote this rule back in 2005, his advice about being short and concise should be something you take to heart whenever building a PowerPoint presentation.

Ultimately, a presentation is less a script and more a roadmap of how you will structure the conversation. This of course assumes the meeting flows in a nice linear fashion. More than likely, it won’t. You should expect questions, interjections and possibly not having enough time to get through all your slides. This is why it’s imperative that you front-load your presentation with the most important information. 

Let’s Get Started

To win the pitch you need to prove three key things in every meeting. 

Market OpportunityYour SolutionTheir Opportunity
Make them believe in the opportunity.Make them believe you (and your team) can win.Make them believe they can win investing in you.

Outline Basic Slides

Open up a blank PowerPoint presentation. Don’t worry about design at this stage, just create the slides and add the titles outlined below. These are just placeholders to remind you of the purpose of each slide.

  1. Title Page
  2. The Problem
  3. Your Solution
  4. The Demo
  5. Roadmap
  6. Key Challenges
  7. The Ask
  8. Your Team
  9. Timeline/Next Steps
  10. Summary
  11. Appendix (Optional)

Next week we’ll explore what needs to go in each slide! Stay tuned.

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