At numerous points in the cycle of a business or product, it needs to get sold to someone – customers, investors, business partners … the list goes on. One of the most important parts of this process is developing a pitch deck – basically a short presentation and overview of the product or service you are “pitching” to your audience. This guide covers all the important elements you need to get your pitch deck perfect.
No matter what you are pitching or to whom, the process behind developing a pitch deck shouldn’t change. The more confident you are with your process, the easier it is to add in or adapt the content of the presentation depending on the audience. So, let’s cover all the important elements you should manage to get that process streamlined and ensure success.
Pick a Style
Confidence is key when it comes to presenting and selling. Marketing pitches just so happen to need both skills, so it is important to know that you are 100% secure in your ability to be the voice of the pitch deck. This comes down to picking a style you know and staying with it. This also extends to the visual presentation and that content. Having cues for yourself, reference points for the audience and a deck which complements your presentation all matter for being consistent. Too often, presenters who aren’t comfortable with a style but assume their presentation needs to be a certain way simply end up losing confidence by being something they’re not. The outcomes of your deck are always more important than a perceived need to match or act in a certain style as related to your pitch.
So, what is your style? It is how you best engage people. While your tone and language obviously need to represent the product or business, you just adapt your style to suit. Not everyone can be funny and suave, the same as not everyone can be informational and direct. You just need to work out what makes you confident and then you can build your pitch deck around that. Here is a fantastic blog that gives a run-down on different presentation styles.
Remember, the information comes from you. The pitch deck is there to help guide your audience through the story you are selling to them and matching the style is vital so that you don’t create a disconnect.
Balance the Deck with your Presentation
When it comes to selling products, less is often more. Initial pitches are all about getting people interested in your product, not informing them about every technical aspect possible. You are an expert and people will ask questions if they need more – but initially, you just need them interested. Your presentation should give visual references for what you are talking about and supplementary evidence or information. It should NOT be providing lists of information and paragraphs of reading that take away from the story you are telling and the selling of your product.
Ideally, your presentation should only have reference points for what you are talking about. If it’s a product, pictures that you can relate to or refer to that help your audience follow specific information you’re giving. When selling a business or an idea, supplementary graphs which show why your idea is relevant (sales, trends, unfilled niches, market segments etc) while you explain how your product fits into the market. It all depends on what you’re pitching as to what information is necessary to complement it.
What you need to avoid is anything which completely distracts from your presentation. Too much text and people can’t focus on both. Irrelevant images or graphs and people will be trying to work out why it matters. Not enough reference points for them to keep track of your pitch progress and they may well get confused. At the end of the day, your pitch deck is the first step in a process. All the technical information, extensive financial projections and other formal information can be given in follow-up documents and conversations.
The Forbes website here gives a great, detailed run-down on how to make the actual presentation deck and some great examples as reference.
Treat the Deck like a Cover Letter
The pitch deck is only one small part of an entire pitch. But in nearly every case it will be the first point of contact and begin the sales process. You need to make sure that everybody who receives your pitch is going to be able to access, interpret, and understand it. Even more than that, make sure it is done in such a way that people WANT to contact you and are ready to be excited by your pitch when you present to them.
You don’t want to give away so much info that people decide on their position before you present but you also need your audience to know your pitch isn’t based on unfounded speculation. Reaching out to investors or potential customers is never easy and you don’t want to lower your chances with a bad first impression. Take the time to get proper, neutral advice on the deck.
Some important questions that need to be asked are:
- Does it leave any obvious questions out?
- Can a non-expert reader understand it?
- Have you got the editorial elements (grammar, sentences, flow, structure) correct?
- Does it look and sound professional for your audience to engage?
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive – but these are extremely important starting points for any pitch whether for investors, buyers, business partners or other stakeholders. Here is a great rundown on how to engage investors well from the start, however these tips apply to any stakeholder.
Believe in Yourself!
If you’re confident and believe in your product, your pitch will reflect that. Just make sure you balance the elements and know how to engage your audience. Make them want your product! Good luck out there and get that awesome pitch going.
By Daniel Markos – Daniel is the manager for a full-time model and influencer and works in content planning and creation. He also has a background in the Legal and Finance Industry.