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DOs and DON’Ts of Pitch Deck Presentations
by Startacus Admin
Following on from our article suggesting your pitch deck slides, there are a number of things you need to consider before and during your presentation of your pitch deck. They can be boiled down to the following dos and don’ts.
DO: Know your audience
You will have to tailor your pitch deck to each and every person or group that you deliver it to. You need to fully understand who they are, what they do, and how they can help you.
Equally, remember that whoever you’re pitching to is almost certainly human, and humans like stories. If you can give them an interesting, exciting, or funny story about your startup (no high fantasy epics) you will engage them emotionally, and leave a greater impression on them.
DON’T: Create a bland or unbalanced presentation
Working out what each slide will entail is only the first step; next you have to make those slides interesting. No one will be amazed by your astounding clip art skills; you can make your presentation stand out by having custom designs, both in terms of the layout and artwork/illustrations. No one can read a lot of text while trying to listen to you talk; make sure to have engaging imagery with important information in bullet points (but not too many!). We’ve previously mentioned how infographics can help improve business content, and it’s no less true here. Although the same reading–listening issue applies, you can combine imagery and text with these. Also make sure to keep the presentation’s visuals consistent.
DO: Get to the point
Remember that this is an inflated elevator pitch. It might be a higher floor than usual (okay, we’re abandoning this metaphor), but it still needs to be short and punchy. Be careful that your introduction doesn’t go on too long, particularly. We mean this in the nicest possible way: your audience doesn’t care about you. Not yet. They need more information from all of the aspects of your pitch deck before they care, so if you go on and on in the very first slide, you will lose their interest before you’ve even really got started. The same applies to every slide. Each slide should cover one thing only, and do so concisely.
Remember that your pitch deck consists of around a dozen slides, so even if you are only spending a minute on each slide, you’re taking up more than ten minutes of your audience’s time. It is, therefore, vital that you stay on point.
DON’T: Come unprepared
It seems obvious – if you’re going to pitch your business and ask people to invest their money in it, you should be prepared and able to answer questions. Try to anticipate the questions you’ll be asked – knowing your audience is a good first step to this. Remember that some investors, competition judges, etc., like to ask pretty tricky questions. Knowing your business, sector, competition, and related figures is a good start!
Don’t exaggerate facts and figures, don’t miscalculate, don’t neglect research. If you assume that your audience will already know everything about the subject and prepare thusly, you shouldn’t have any problems. In theory.
We listed misplaced or too broad a focus as a reason your startup will fail, and the same applies here, in more ways than one. As mentioned earlier, you want to keep your slides short and punchy and you want to get to the point, so keeping focus is vital. Although having a product that solves multiple problems, or plugs multiple holes in multiple markets, is good and attractive to customers, it may not be so attractive to investors. Yes, mention the product’s potential for greater things in the future, but focus on its main function/application for your pitch deck. You want your audience to have a clear picture and to see that you have a clear picture and a clear focus.
DON’T: Read from a script
If you need notes to prompt you, that’s fine (although, don’t forget there’s a large screen detailing your presentation right beside you). Do not, however, stand with a sheet of paper in front of your face and read every word from it. You don’t have to deliver your presentation with the panache of a Shakespearean actor, but avoiding eye contact and reciting from the page in the manner of a text-to-speech app won’t do your pitch any good.
DO: Have a strong team
One of your slides is probably going to introduce your team – do you feel confident about doing so? Just as a shaky team stands a good chance of losing you a place in your desired accelerator, it could easily cause investors to lose faith. Your team should have a diverse skill set and work well together. Relevant experience and proven track record will always be a plus, but you’re a startup – no one expects this.
DON’T: Downplay the competition
Take your competition seriously. Ignoring them won’t help anyone, and downplaying the competition won’t make you look better in front of investors – it will make you look naïve and unprepared. You have to understand the market and the competitors that dwell therein, and show the investors this. Rather than trying to tell them how your competition isn’t as good as they think, show how you are better or different in some crucial way. Show them also that you are ready for future competition – especially if the ever-changing tech world is in any way involved in your business.
DO: Ask for money
The culmination of an investor pitch is the helpful, and indeed obligatory, request for investment. This can be where a lot of entrepreneurs run out of steam and confidence after an otherwise strong pitch. It doesn’t feel natural to ask other people to give you money for your thing, but that’s why the investors are there. So be confident and sure about asking them for money, but also be ready to explain exactly what you are going to do with it.