A Pitch Deck Snob’s Information to Crafting Slides That Will Impress Buyers | by Aaron Dinin, PhD | Might, 2023

Nice pitch decks are like artistic endeavors. Are you able to change into a pitch deck artist?

Entrepreneur's Handbook
Photograph by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

A buddy had simply returned from a trip to Paris. He was telling me about his go to to the Louvre, and he talked about his ideas on the Mona Lisa:

“The room the place it hangs is de facto crowded.”

“The portray is far smaller than I believed it’d be.”

“I don’t actually see what all of the fuss is about.”

Heaps of people that go to Mona Lisa say comparable issues, and it’s as a result of they’re visiting the portray as one thing they’re “presupposed to do” in Paris reasonably than as a result of they admire wonderful artwork. They aren’t actually “artwork individuals,” and so they wrestle understanding why Mona Lisa is so particular.

To be clear, I’m not an “artwork particular person,” and I don’t know a lot about wonderful artwork, so I’m woefully under-qualified to clarify what makes the Mona Lisa, or another portray, particular. However that’s OK as a result of this text isn’t about work. It’s about one thing I’m rather more certified to debate: fundraising pitch decks.

I’m a pitch deck snob who spends extra time obsessing over his slides than the typical entrepreneur. Heck, I’m not even positive most traders look as intently on the minor particulars of pitch decks as I do. However the identical is true for excellent artwork, proper? The overwhelming majority of people that go to museums are solely casually glancing on the paintings. Entrepreneurs are likely to method their pitch decks the identical approach. It’s like seeing the Mona Lisa whereas in Paris. A pitch deck is a perfunctory factor entrepreneurs are “presupposed to do” whereas fundraising reasonably than a fancy and complex piece of media able to being evaluated and appreciated with an elevated stage of data and respect.

To be clear, I don’t imply most entrepreneurs don’t work arduous on their decks. I simply imply that the majority entrepreneurs don’t admire the nuance of pitch decks and what can elevate a pitch deck past the extent of practical and into the extent of chic. And identical to nice artwork is wildly advanced but deceptively easy, each element in a fantastic pitch deck issues, nothing is a mistake or accident, and what’s excluded is simply as essential as what’s included.

These sorts of little particulars are in all places in your pitch deck, and my aim, on this article, is to let you know about a few of the most essential ones so you’ll be able to elevate your pitch deck from competent to masterpiece.

It’s 2023, individuals! Each display in our lives is vast, which implies your slides should be widescreen, as effectively. No good pitch deck makes use of a 4×3 facet ratio. Not anymore. Not in 2023. I don’t care when you initially constructed your slides a decade in the past, again when a 4×3 facet ratio may need been acceptable. It’s time to rebuild them.

PRO TIP: To take care of slides that aren’t as tall as you had been used to, be taught to make use of the edges of your slides as locations for boilerplate information like logos and headings.

No person needs to learn a novel on a powerpoint slide. Heck, no person even needs to learn novels anymore. We reside in an age of TikToks and Tweets, so your pitch deck wants as few phrases as doable.

PRO TIP: In the event you’re struggling to clarify one thing advanced with out a number of phrases, think about using photos as a substitute. In spite of everything, an image is value a thousand phrases.

We’ve come a good distance from the times of our primary font decisions being Courier, Instances New Roman, or Ariel. Nevertheless, regardless of the 1000’s of fonts available, most slide decks use no matter generic font is default for the software program. Why? Experiment along with your font and discover one thing that evokes the model and angle of the corporate you’re pitching.

PRO TIP: Line spacing is simply as essential as font alternative. You don’t need your stunning fonts showing in squished-together paragraphs.

Till comparatively lately in human historical past, paper was costly. Consequently, individuals stuffed each nook of their pages, wrote on the backs of outdated scraps of paper, and usually didn’t discard one thing that might be written on till the ultimate little bit of area had been used. However instances have modified, and area on a web page isn’t almost as treasured because it was, so don’t fear about filling all of the empty area in your slides. As a substitute, let your content material breathe.

PRO TIP: Typically, it’s higher to make issues barely smaller — fonts, photographs, graphs — and depart a little bit of whitespace than fill issues to the sides.

Whereas I’m with regards to area, the digital area of a slide deck is infinite, and your deck can embody as many slides as you need. To be clear, I don’t imply your deck needs to be so long as doable. As a substitute, I imply you’ll be able to unfold content material and concepts throughout a number of slides as a substitute of cramming every little thing collectively. For instance, reasonably than putting all of the objects of a listing on a single slide, create a brand new slide for every merchandise in your checklist and encompass it with a number of great whitespace.

PRO TIP: When you could have a number of slides, you’ll be able to flip by them within the background of your pitch nearly prefer it’s a film or flip guide taking part in behind you as you discuss. I do that usually with my slides. I’ll use as many as 70 slides for a ten minute pitch. Audiences adore it. They really feel extra like they’re watching a film than a pitch.

Harsh transitions make issues really feel much less completed. For instance, the steel edges on the insides of low-cost wristwatches are 90-degree angles the place the steel was minimize by machines. In distinction, the most costly mechanical watches — watches value lots of of 1000’s, and even hundreds of thousands of {dollars} — have smooth, clean edges smoothed by hand. The identical is true on your slide deck. While you flip between slides, add a refined fade animation. Your viewers will hardly discover the distinction, however the slides will really feel extra polished and refined.

PRO TIP: Harsh edges additionally make photographs and shapes really feel cheaper. Think about including barely rounded edges to your photographs in addition to any sq. or rectangular bins inside your slides.

In earlier days of fundraising, entrepreneurs printed their slides and shared bodily copies with traders. In distinction, trendy pitch decks are nearly all the time seen on pc screens. Which means the slides don’t need to be static. You may add animations so the slides change as you discuss. Use this energy sparingly, however use it effectively. A wonderfully-timed animation may be an effective way to emphasise an essential level.

PRO TIP: Keep away from gimmicky or distracting animations. As famous in step six, fast, refined fades are normally one of the simplest ways so as to add dynamic components to slides with out making something look low-cost.

Books have web page numbers with a view to create simple reference factors that folks can use to convey the situation of sure content material. Slide decks don’t want this function. In spite of everything, when was the final time you stated, “As we are able to see on web page 12,” throughout a pitch? As a substitute, web page numbers distract audiences by making them surprise what web page they’re on in relation to the bigger presentation. Web page numbers additionally make it more durable to have a number of slides with small quantities of textual content (as per level #5 above).

PRO TIP: The opposite cause to keep away from web page numbers is as a result of they change into an annoying trouble to take care of whenever you inevitably add or take away slides out of your deck.

Similar to books have web page numbers to assist readers navigate them, analysis papers have headings. And headings are useful for analysis papers, however they’re pointless in a very good pitch deck. A superb pitch deck doesn’t want to inform individuals when it’s describing “The Drawback,” explaining “The Competitors,” or speaking about “Our Group.” The slides needs to be clear sufficient that folks them can perceive the matters primarily based on what they’re seeing and/or what a presenter is saying about them. If they’ll’t, the answer isn’t so as to add headings; the answer is to restructure the pitch deck.

PRO TIP: In the event you want a presentation model of your deck and a model individuals are going to evaluate on their very own ( a “depart behind” deck), you’ll be able to add headings to the latter.

My 4-year-old loves rainbows. However, she’s additionally 4 years outdated. For the remainder of us, paperwork with a number of totally different colours are distracting and ugly. With this in thoughts, be certain your slide deck doesn’t appear to be it ate a pile of Skittles. Restrict the colour palette on your deck to 2 or three colours.

PRO TIP: The very best coloration combos have one primary coloration for main textual content, one muted coloration for secondary textual content, and one spotlight coloration for key textual content.

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