13 Tips to Build a Pitch Deck That Sells


This article was authored by Jeanne Heydecker and originally published on the Woomentum Network.

Guy Kawasaki has a great rule called the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. I highly recommend you check it out since it has a great infographic to help you visualize what your deck should be. In case you don’t know what a pitch deck is, it’s usually a Powerpoint, Keynote or Prezi presentation during a face-to-face or online meeting with potential investors, customers, partners, or employees.

My pitch deck is a mess and I need to weed out out the useless from what will get me that contract. Creating a great deck is hard work and daunting even to the most seasoned serial entrepreneur or business development executive. The following list should not be used as a list to include in all decks, but as a list to help you get started and inspire you to keep it simple, engaging and get you that term sheet or contract.

  1. Data: Focus on solid numbers such as your user engagement, traffic, users, and growth metrics.
  2. Elevator Pitch: You need to describe your business using as few words as possible. Imagine telling a 5-year-old what your business is about. If you can’t do that, it’s time to rethink your intro to your investors.
  3. Social Proof: It doesn’t hurt to promote the management team if they’ve been with Twitter, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, PayPal, or any other well recognized company.
  4. Value Proposition: Investors want to know how you make bank. What is your business model? Where does your revenue come from? Two words investors love are “diversified” and recurring” when discussing revenue streams.
  5. Exit Strategy: One of the key concerns of an investor is the exit mechanism of his or her investments. Highlighting a number of exit strategy options is quite beneficial.
  6. Go-to-Market Strategy: How will you stand out in the midst of all the static and the noise both on- and off-line? How will you differentiate yourself from existing established competition? Do you know or can you project your Cost of Paid Acquisition (CPA) number? Or What the potential Life Time Value (LTV) of your client might be?
  7. Start Off With a Problem: Follow it up by providing your solution and, ultimately, your competitive advantage. <– Different way to present your elevator pitch.
  8. More Social Proof: It doesn’t hurt to showcase the millions of people visiting your site or quote a well recognized news organization saying something awesome about your company.
  9. Gamification: Hot word these days for investors, especially if you’re marketing your product or service to millennials. Gamification gives users rankings and leaderboards and stars and unicorns for performing certain tasks. If gamification makes sense with your product or service, by all means, do it. Do it now.
  10. Tell a Story: Tell them your personal experience with the problem and your “aha!” moment, when you finally realized you had a solution to that problem.
  11. Transformation/Disruption: Investors like big ideas. Like, really big ideas that change the ways industries do business or disrupt the status quo in a way that makes consumers act differently. Is there a way for your startup to do that?
  12. Partnerships/Alliances: If you have existing well-recognized partners or symbiotic relationships with them, these can make all the difference to the right investor.
  13. Analog to Digital: Just like transformation, taking In Real Life (IRL) paperwork to the cloud is very appealing. A microfinance company in Myanmar inputs their loan applications on an iPad and within four hours the applicants gets an SMS whether or not the loan has been approved and the money in the bank.

Your deck doesn’t need to be beautiful, but it needs to have impact. It should be short but start with a strong introduction, talk about the problem and introduce your solution and how it is different from what is already out there. It should identify the market and showcase how your product or service serves that market. It should also define your business model and financial models, actual or forecasted. If you have social proof or an experienced management team, all the better.

Each time you use the deck, watch the crowd. Is anyone yawning, looking at their watch, playing with their phone, not looking at you or the screen? Take note and either remove or redo that portion of the deck. You want everyone in the room paying attention. If you’re seeking $20 million dollars and you have 20 minutes, each minute is worth a million dollars. Make it worth it.

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