7 tips for creating an investor pitch deck
Three minutes and 44 seconds. 19.2 slides. That’s your pitch – 400-500 words or 35 to 45 sentences. It probably sounds like nothing when you look at your 150-page business plan and 65-slide PowerPoint presentation, but that’s often the average time you’ll get to pitch your idea to investors. So how can you prepare the perfect pitch deck in just 19 slides?
1. Know your audience
Find out and research who is going to be in the room when you deliver your presentation. What is important to them? How is your product or service going to benefit them and what questions might they ask you? Write it all down and try to personify each individual in your mind. It is unlikely that your pitch is the only one your audience will hear that day, so make it exciting and memorable by personalising it to them. Align with their mission and values, and include statistics and case studies that will be relevant to them.
2. Understand your objective for the meeting
Make it clear from the outset what you’d like to achieve from the meeting. Your long-term goal may be to secure investment, but you won’t do that in just one meeting. The first pitch should be a foot in the door. Do you want to obtain a follow-up meeting? Are you looking for an introduction or mentor, or are you hoping to progress to the next round of the pitch competition? Make it clear to your audience and tailor your slides accordingly.
3. Tell your story
Telling a story through your presentation will allow you to create an emotional connection with your audience. This will become your script and will give your pitch a natural flow. Storytelling will help your audience to understand how the idea was born and why you are so passionate about it. Your slides, app or product demonstration are tools to help you tell your story. Use them to your advantage and signpost key moments with eye-catching visuals and memorable moments.
4. Follow this successful structure
At this point, it may be tempting to open your laptop and start creating slides in PowerPoint, InDesign or Keynote, but resist the urge! Spend some time brainstorming your ideas and building your story on paper. Successful investor pitches tend to follow a similar order, so spend some time writing down your key points for each of the below sections:
An analysis of 200 successful pitches found that investors spent the most time on the financials, team and competition information. However, presenters who are less prepared often get stuck on the solution or product sections of their pitches, as their passion for their ideas and businesses take over. Ensure you plan out your time accurately and allow enough time for these three areas (financials, team and competition) and Q&A at the end.
5. Use visuals to create memorable moments
Once you’ve brainstormed your ideas and formulated your story, you can start to produce the slides to support it. Do not underestimate the importance of your visual aids during your pitch, whether it’s through the use of presentation slides or a demonstration. 65 percent of people find it easiest to digest visual information, so a PowerPoint full of bullet point lists is not going to help you build rapport with your audience or keep them engaged. Eye-catching, informative and unique slides will help you to create memorable moments so your audience can still identify you and your idea once they’ve seen all 10+ pitches that day.
Your slide titles are more important than you may think and should not be overlooked. They may be the only text on the page, or at least the only text your audience will read, so use them wisely. Use your title to summarise the slide; for example, instead of saying ‘Market Potential’ consider adding information such as ‘The Market Potential Is £67bn’.
6. You’ll need three pitch decks
Do not turn up unprepared. It is not uncommon for an investor to request a copy of your executive summary or placemat before you’ve even started pitching. They may also ask you to leave a copy of your presentation as a handout or to email it to them as a follow-up. Each of these documents will serve a different purpose and ensure you are prepared for all situations by having the following ready to go:
Your presentation deck – this should be visually compelling and support your story.
Your follow-up deck – this should communicate your story in an email or handout once you are no longer in the room to tell it.
Your executive summary or placemat – this should communicate your idea in the most concise way possible and can range from one to four pages.
7. Practise, practise, practise
Three minutes, 44 seconds is no time at all. When you’re nervous, you may whizz through in record time, forgetting some of your key points, or you may stumble over the slides and run out of time. In pitch competitions, you will get cut off whether you’ve finished or not. Practise in front of a live audience. Prepare your answers to difficult questions and have a backup plan such as printed slides if technology is not your friend on the day.
Seven tips for your next pitch
So there you go… seven ways to create the perfect pitch deck for investor presentations:
Know your audience
Understand your objective for the meeting
Tell your story
Follow the successful structure
Use visuals to create memorable moments
Create three versions of your pitch deck
Practise, practise, practise
I hope this post has given you some useful, actionable tips for preparing for your next investor pitch. If you have any questions or would like support creating your slides for your next presentation, I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me via email at email@example.com or through LinkedIn or Instagram.