If standing in a conference room with the walls closing in on you, palms sweating, and fumbling to get your laptop to connect to the projector in front of a group of investors is your greatest anxiety – this post may be relevant to you (and your pitch deck).
The obvious advice one can receive in refining their pitch is to practice, practice, practice. But what if you’re practicing the wrong thing, with the wrong audience, and with the wrong tools?
Here are a few tips that can give a serious boost to your pitch deck and support your ability to land a round of funding.
Tell a Story
Everyone likes a good story. Why? Because great stories are relatable. A great story about the problem your company is solving will create a psychological buy-in from your investor audience and help them understand your company’s market position.
What may not be obvious as you’re practicing your pitch in front of the mirror, is that your pitch deck itself can and should convey that story as well.
Building your story into the deck (without getting wordy) creates a higher level of consistency in your deck layout. When you send your deck PDF to investors, they’re able to follow your story without needing you to present it. That gives you the opportunity to truly shine when it comes to meeting in person. Investors won’t have simple questions in their mind about your business – they’ll be ready to be “sold” by your pitching skills.
Use of Funds
It’s tempting to exhibit your innate attention to detail and thorough planning by listing how you’ll use your funds to propel growth. And that’s not a bad thing…..to put in the appendix.
Instead of breaking down how the funds will be used in your deck’s precious real estate, describe what you’ll achieve with that fat investor check.
Are you scaling? Yes, of course you are. But don’t bore them with the details, excite them by describing the view from the top of your newly conquered mountain.
Demonstrating what you’ll achieve shows your vision and ability to look beyond the tedious day-to-day operations.
Proof of Market Interest
We all have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is usually at the bottom. While some companies have the advantage of a direct revenue stream from customer one, others do not.
So how do you describe with confidence that there’s a real market for your amazing product?
Many highly technical products rely on innovation alone to woo investors. But as we’ve seen many times in the past, technology does not equate to marketability. Proof of market interest needs to be evaluated and measured in some way, the less nebulous the better.
Some alternative metrics to consider if dollar signs aren’t available:
- Social following and engagement
- Email signups for news about your product
- Quantified competitor analysis in your market
These metrics are in support of your overall market analysis and addressable market numbers, and at the angel and seed funding stages, they can give gravity to your projections.
Hire a Designer
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” as they say. And few things could be more important in giving off a great first impression than your deck’s appearance.
Don’t rely on PowerPoint templates or cookie-cutter designs. Get real help!
A professional graphic designer, especially one that is familiar with pitch deck design, will elevate everything about your company and the pitch deck’s content.
What do you look for in a great designer? A professional designer will first get an understanding of your company, product, and brand. They’ll ask questions rather than make assumptions about how your company should be conveyed.
If you find a designer whose style you like, they should still make an effort to understand the uniqueness of your product and create designs accordingly.
Get an Outside Perspective
An outside perspective is always important, but even more so if you’re product is in a niche market or is highly technical.
Find several people from outside your industry that you can simply send your deck to without giving any explanation, just ask for honest feedback.
If your deck doesn’t present your product clearly enough for an industry outsider to understand, chances are at least one investor in the room won’t understand it either. And lack of understanding translates to a “pass” in the investor world.
The easiest way to adjust from a highly technical explanation to something anyone can understand is to exhibit the value of your product to the customer. Does your product add a level of encryption to public library cards? Great! But don’t explain the technology, talk about how it protects users from the pain, cost, and hassle of identity theft.
In the end, creating a pitch deck that’s easy on the eyes and mind of potential investors will put you in a stronger position to present your story and get that round of funding!
Hone your story, keep it simple, and, as always… Practice. Practice. Practice.