Pitch Deck Guide: Nail Your Next Pitch Presentation

Have a great idea but don’t know how to present it? Or maybe you just want to ace that interview? Look no further as this simple pitch deck guide will give you the basics and teach you how to win your next pitch presentation. 

Table Of Content

This brief part of the pitch deck guide will define the term pitch and its origin.

Here is where the pitch deck guide briefly explains the importance of having a pitch, regardless what you do in life.

This part of the pitch deck guide lists out the most important ingredients that you need in order to deliver an extraordinary pitch that will win over your audience.

Yep, there’s more than just one deck that you will need whenever you pitch or present your ideas or yourself – there are two and both are explained in this part.

Depending on which industry or area of your life you focus on, there are several types of pitches that you need to be aware of. This part explains the most important ones.

A short list of the most important tips you need to be aware of when preparing and delivering the pitch. 

Based on our experience, if you can master these 3 areas you can easily turn any pitch into a victory or just win over your audience. 

Follow this structure regardless of the type of pitch you’re creating. This is the most battle tested, successful structure you can use to make sure your pitch is to the point and successful. 

As the subject line says, please don’t do these mistakes when delivering your pitch. We’ve done them, they don’t work 🙂

What is allowed and what is not that is the question. Good thing we answered it within this part of the pitch deck guide.

The best of the best according to us and taking into consideration how much money they made thanks to these pitches.

This wouldn’t be a complete pitch deck guide without mentioning some of the legends in pitching and presenting. 

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ABOUT THIS PITCH DECK GUIDE

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This guide is for people that are just starting to pitch, are failing at it, and for those that just want to refresh their memory (like Oren Klaf).

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Reading this guide will never implement anything written here or will do that, but it will be too late (usually after they lose a sales meeting with a qualified lead, investor meeting, or a startup conference). 

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Will realize that this guide can be used not only for pitching startups, but also for structuring sales calls, nailing job interviews, getting new clients, and convincing your wife to forgive you despite what happened. 

wHAT iS A PITCH?

A crucial part of being an entrepreneur or simply convincing someone to accept your idea, is pitching. The word itself has different meanings in different contexts, for example: in music you will find vocal pitch; baseball – pitching of a ball; in business a pitch is a short presentation. Since we’re talking about business, throughout this pitch deck guide we will use the meaning of a pitch as a short presentation. 

A pitch is a discipline of its own. This is simply because having a great idea is not good enough if you are not able to sell it. This short presentation is actually convincing others to accept your idea – it can mean pitching your idea for a startup to an incubator, or a short presentation of yourself and your skills to someone important in your field of business. Nowadays, the most popular term to use for both types of presenting, is called an “an elevator pitch”. 

The Origins Of The Phrase “Elevator Pitch”

The phrase comes from the studio days in Hollywood when a screenwriter would “supposedly” catch an unsuspecting executive on an elevator ride. This means that they would have had 15-30 seconds to present themselves or their idea. 

Key Elements Of An Elevator Pitch

If you want to have a successful elevator pitch, there are a few key elements you have to know about:

  • The pitch: A short sentence that exactly explains how your product helps your target customer and what benefit they will get.
  • Target market: You have to know your target market, most importantly its size. 
  • Projected earnings: You should know the profits you anticipate from sales of your product or service.
  • Current results: What you or your product/service has achieved.
  • Personal history: A synopsis of your qualifications and achievements.
  • Competition and advantage: What is important for you is to know all the information you can find about your competitors, highlighting features that make your product or service superior.

Bear in mind that an elevator pitch needs to be clear, concise and interesting. It basically has to convince the person you present your idea to, to invest in you and your business.

DIRECTORS' THOUGHT:

Think about it, if your life depended on how concise, clear and to the point, your pitch would be, how would you go about creating it, structuring it and pitching it?

WHY IS A PITCH IMPORTANT?

For many people, the idea of having a pitch in front of an audience at all is frightening. Yet, you have to have a great pitch in order to succeed in business. Because of this reason, making a great pitch is a rewarding experience when done correctly. If you want to secure funds for your business, a great pitch will do, and if you seek a leadership position, no matter the area, what you’ll need is amazing pitching skills. 

But What Makes A Pitch Extraordinary? 

Basically, an extraordinary pitch is similar to a business plan – it should be practical and compelling. This means you need to have an in-depth and thorough knowledge of your industry, as well as of the idea you are selling. This includes knowledge of the particular problem that your idea is solving, your target market, the competition, rival products, anticipated revenues and uniqueness of your idea. You need a total breakdown of your pitch – meaning you need to explain each part into as much details as possible. If you are pitching to an investor for example, your idea should create a feeling within your investor that their money is in safe hands (and will at least double within a certain period of time). 

It’s Essential.

An extraordinary pitch is crucial for selling your brand. It essentially reflects your strategic plan for your product. Because of this, it should always be fresh and in tandem with the current trends in the market. Be aware that in most cases, the success of a brand is determined by the effectiveness of the pitch, which makes numerous brands fail because of poor pitching. Let’s review some of the key ingredients that will make your pitch extraordinary shall we? The following part of this pitch deck guide does exactly that.

KEY INGREDIENTS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR PITCH EXTRAORDINARY.

Tell A Real Customer Story

One of the rules of an opening speech is “start with something shocking, or a good story”. So why not use that rule when pitching your idea? It’s best to start your pitch with a shocking fact and a good customer story which addresses the problem you or your product is trying to solve. 

Try to use real names and real customer challenges. Keep it simple and realistic. Avoid buzzwords and tech talk. After all, the people will remember the stories that you tell, not the exact words you use. 

Make The Pitch Sweet And Short

Try not to deliver your pitch as if you’re actioning off your grandparents antiques. Relax, and note that with pitching, less is more. Prioritize the most important things you want to share and stick to them. Take a nice big breath before you speak, it will help you deliver a more compelling and thoughtful pitch.

Shape Your Business Model

Your business model tells someone how your idea converts into being something economically valuable. The best way to communicate that, is to show a good business model.

Make Sure Your Pitch Has A Flow

Keep your presentation short, sweet and to the point. When making your presentation, try not to jump from one subject to another, but connect the dots. The best way to do this is to have a compelling story narrative that will hook your audience. 

Talk About Yourself And What Have You Done Lately

It is important to know that investors invest in people first. If people are good, they will invest in an idea. So, don’t be afraid to talk about yours and you team’s accomplishments. They want to hear about your first customers, key media placement, key hires etc. People want to hear stories – give them a story that will make them choose you.

Admit You Have Competition

The biggest mistake people make is saying they don’t have any competition. The truth is – everyone has a competition, even if it is indirect. When you are going to talk about your competition, one of the best ways to illustrate that you understand your rivals is to present it in a simple matrix form.

Show Me The Data

Try not to brag about how you’re going to be a $60 billion business in three to five years, because no one is going to believe – unless, of course, you’ve done it before. Show them exactly how you will reach those billions instead.

THE TWO DECKS YOU NEED TO HAVE AT ALL TIMES.

Guy Kawasaki made a point when he said that the purpose of the initial pitch is to stimulate interest, not to close a deal. A pitch is a presentation, which includes a deck of slides that serve as a presentation aid and background. It also includes the verbal discussion that usually begins as a planned talk and ends with questions and answers. 

There are two kinds of slide decks associated with a pitch – the deck intended for the presentation itself and the leave-behind pitch. This part of the pitch deck guide explains both of them briefly:

Presentation Pitch Deck

That’s the one you read about most often. It’s a classic presentation – almost entirely images, each slide with its title and an image, but very little text. The images are photographs, business charts, and diagrams. It keeps the focus on the speaker, not the slides. It doesn’t encourage the audience to read text from the slides. Last but not least, It doesn’t have bullet points people will read.

Leave-behind Pitch Deck

This type of pitch stands alone. It needs to be read, not presented. This is one of those presentations that is rich in content – it has more text and statistics and doesn’t have a lot of videos and images because of its business purposes.  

Try not to confuse these two – they are similar but not the same.

However, it doesn’t matter if you write presentation or leave-behind pitch, this is what you ought to do if you want to stimulate interest with your pitch:  

  • Show a problem to solve, ideally one that investors will understand immediately, and relate to. 

  • Solution: How is your startup going to solve that problem? What do you do? Ideally, the solution is something investors will also understand and relate to. And there is a good image to show. 

  • Market potential: How many people/buyers have the problem and how much is the solution worth?  

  • Secret sauce: You decide what to highlight here, depending on the audience. Investors and business plan contest judges want to see technology, trade secrets, existing market position, or some other fact that helps you establish barriers to entry and protect your competitive advantage.

  • The team: Investors need to see a credible startup team, with previous startup experience and background  specifically related to the problem and the opportunity.

  • Traction: Show milestones achieved, momentum, traffic, anything you can to make your story – and the opportunity – presentable. Web traffic or downloads are excellent. Success on Kickstarter is also excellent. Early sales, and firm commitments from important clients or distributors are also effective.

  • All the rest: Flesh it out as needed, depending on your specific case, with highlights investors will look for. Exit strategies, competition, market strategy. Be sure to have projected P&L as a bar chart and have solid projected P&L, Balance, and Cash Flow to back it up.

dIRECTORS' THOUGHT:

If you do get to the point where your potential client or investor asks you for the second deck, don’t just go ahead and cram it with data. Make it in a way where it would be a breeze for the reader to go through it. How? Coat the presentation with storified content – these are words and slides that easily guide the reader through the plethora of information. Have you heard of the hero’s journey? Essentially your story is leading the hero through your slides to the end and showing him the promised land (which is you or your product).

TYPES OF PITCHES.

It is known that the word “pitch” has a different meaning depending on the connotation. However, speaking of a business and presenting your idea in that area, there are different types of pitches and the following ones are amongst the most popular that we covered in this pitch deck guide:

Sales Pitch

The Sales Pitch needs to be the “more conversational type”. If you want to have a successful sales pitch, you need to provoke a dialog and ask your buyer about what they need. The next thing you need to do is to create a connection with your buyer. Naturally, the best way to do that is again – tell them a story. If they can relate to your brand on a personal level, they will have one more reason to buy from you.

Advertising Pitch

Yes, this particular one, the Advertising Pitch presentation exists, and you are in touch with it every single day. Advertising Pitch involves PR and Marketing agencies. If you have a new brand and would like someone to create a campaign to promote it, you’d go to PR and Marketing agencies and brief them on your request. Then they would come back to you with their Ad Pitch, which is essentially the strategy that the agency would use to execute the campaign.

Startup Pitch

The main goal in the startup pitch is to attract investors. This type of pitch needs to be a strong, compelling pitch that will convince investors to back up your startup. Keep the pitch to the point, tell your startup story and manage your timing well are the three key steps you need to have when creating a successful startup pitch deck.

Investor Pitch

For starters, despite what some of the investors say when they are asking you to send them a pitch deck, they usually mean of an Investor Deck. You should know that those are two different things – a pitch deck needs to be supported by a presentation, to tell a story and to focus on the problem, whereas the investor pitch deck which can be read by itself, only present the problem and talk about your vision in mostly business terms. The investor deck basically puts to attention the information investors need to make a decision.

ESSENTIAL TIPS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION BEFORE DOING THE PITCH.

Before The Pitch

Get To Know Your Audience

Understanding your audience is a must before the pitch. You need to know what roles the people you are talking to play in the decision to invest in you and your idea. You need to give a pitch which will make them enthusiastic and in order to do that, you need to understand what they want to hear.

Leave An Impression

The most important part of the presentation is you. Make sure you leave the impression you want – as a grounded and smart individual. Of course, watch your body language – your posture, tone of your voice, hand gestures, strong eye contact and appropriate pauses.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to make a perfect pitch is practice.  Time how long it takes for you to get your key point across. Stand in front of a mirror and pay attention to your body language. After that, give the presentation to your friends and family and ask them to point out any mistakes they notice.  

Relax

Probably one of cardinal mistakes people do before their pitch is not giving themselves time to relax. There is no point in being all stressed out – it can only make things worse. 

During The Pitch

Be Grounded

If you plant your feet you will look and feel more grounded. Stay in that position for three minutes to calm yourself down, then feel free to move around.

Take It Slow

This is a traditional advice, but what’s even better is to pause from time to time. Catch your breath, think of your next point and move on. Not only does the pause help you recollect your thoughts, but it also exudes confidence – you got time on your hands and you’re in control, there is no rush.

Share The Main Point

Often people forget to share their main point, Don’t forget to pull out fresh information and at the end add a compelling call to action. 

Tell Your Story, But Do Not Read

It is best to share three stories with the audience – the first should demonstrate why you care and why the audience should too. The second story should describe the solution to action. And the last story should exemplify the benefit of implementing your solution. However while doing this, remember to have bullet point cards so you can avoid reading. 

Raise Your Voice

When presenting, you need to make sure everyone can hear you. Try to project your voice as if you are talking to the person sitting in the last row. You may think you are loud, but don’t worry – you are not.

dIRECTORS' THOUGHT:

One of the things we always ask, after our pitches, is about the message of the pitch. We ask the following 3 questions:

Did I get through?

Was my message well received?

Does the target want to buy my product, or invest in my idea?

The main reason we ask these questions: Analysis is key to improving our next pitch. Great analysis starts by testing out the message.

2 KEY AREAS TO MASTER IN ORDER TO WIN EVERY PITCH.

Pitching is part of the communication process and this pitch deck guide wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t show you all the parts of the process. As you know, communication is made out of two parts – verbal and non-verbal. The verbal component of communication is only 7%, the other 93% contain the non-verbal element and is made up of body language – 55% and tone of voice – 38%. So, if you want to win your pitch, maybe it is time to master all 100% which contains the two key areas – body language and tone of voice.

Body Language

You need 4-7 seconds to leave an impression. And 30 seconds after that, the judgement will be finalized. The biggest influence on the communication process falls down to body language. So when you first show up in front of people, your appearance sends a certain message – the way you walk, your posture, you face expressions and even your clothes. So, what are the things you need to pay your attention to in order to master body language?

Posture

Being powerful and confident, or at least look like that, is a must when pitching in front of people who are about to make a decision on the future of your company. Take a lot of space – do that by taking power poses. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Include open palm gestures, lean slightly forward and mirror your audience’s posture/gestures.

Face Expressions

You’re never fully dressed without a smile. Show people your charisma. Walk in the room with bright eyes and easy smile and allow your vibe to consume all the people in the room. 

Make Sure Your Verbal And Nonverbal Messages Are Aligned

If your body language doesn’t match your words, your message will be lost. It’s like thinking about one thing, but talking about something else. If you express a concern, be careful not to tell that with a smile – your face needs to show that you are troubled. If you are proud of the numbers you are presenting – show it. When you tell a joke – smile. Communicate your messages in the right way.

Voice

Tone Of Voice 

What does the tone of your voice communicate? How does it sound like? Does it express confidence? Assurance? Strength maybe? Or fear? How about boredom? Find out what you tell with your voice and practice until you get the desired effect. 

Voice Inflection

Make sure the inflection of your voice emphasizes whatever you are speaking and thinking about. Inflection alone can change the meaning of a sentence.

Sound And Energy

Authoritative? Joyful? How do you sound? Use a recorder to hear how you sound and what others hear. Make them feel like they are in the same room with you with the energy of your voice. Watch the speed at which you speak. Breathe, think what point you want to make, and use the right energy in the sentence to do that. 

BASIC STRUCTURE OF A PITCH.

One of the most important parts is structuring your pitch. There are a few things which are extremely important when it comes to the basic structure of a pitch. This part of the pitch deck guide will explain the structure.

Get To The Point Fast

It’s a well known fact that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Don’t waste time with preambles. Give the audience an overview of your compelling composition quickly and capture their attention at the beginning of your pitch. Then move to the next point. 

Establish The Need And Use A Message Map

One of the questions that goes through your listener’s mind is “What problem are you trying to solve?” Therefore, give them a reason to believe there is a need. State the problem and illustrate the need, then follow up with your solution to address the necessity. Make this by using a message map – it is a tool to help pitch a complex idea, simply and quickly. All you need to do is to create a Twitter-friendly headline, followed by three key benefits to support the headline. End it with a reinforcement of the three benefits through stories, statistics and examples.

Know Your Next Step

Practice your follow up steps. People start pitching, right? A negative response catches them off guard and they sometimes get confused. Come prepared for the next steps. What happens if you get a negative response? What do you want your audience to do? Preparation will help you move forward with confidence.

Use The 11 Slides Of A Pitch Deck

Usually, the pitch deck should contain about 11 slides:

  1. Introduction – Short and sweet. What’s your elevator pitch? What are you trying to solve?

  2. The Market – Know your target market – give the audience a reason why you’re trying to offer a solution – what is the problem that the market is currently facing?

  3. The Solution – Describe how are you going to solve the problem.

  4. Benefits – What makes you and your solution special?

  5. The Product – Show examples of how your product works.

  6. Traction – Have measurable set of customer which serve to prove a potential.

  7. The Team – Introduce the people behind the project and briefly describe their role.

  8. Competition – Know who is your direct and indirect competition.

  9. Business Model – Show a schedule on when and how are you going to bring in an income.

  10. Investing – What is your budget? How are you going to spend that money?

  11. Contact – Leave your contact details and let people know how to reach you.

15 MISTAKES TO AVOID.

Pitches can be tough, especially when you’re presenting to an audience that has seen an enormous number of pitches (It’s just hard to make an impression). Because your prep-work is the most important part, you need to be careful not to make some of the most common mistakes and this part of the pitch deck guide shows some of them:

Not Doing Research

Research is the first thing you need to do when doing anything in business. You have to know who you are meeting with and where they place their interest. The research is also important for the pitch itself – you have to know exactly what are you talking about when presenting in front of an audience. 

Crafting Your Pitch Alone

The worst thing you can do when preparing a good pitch is not asking for a second opinion. A bit of guidance, encouragement and even love from your close ones can be crucial for delivering the right message.  

Relying On Your Slides

Relying on your slides too hard when presenting is not a good idea. People should have an impression that your pitch is unique, not like you’ve fed the same lines to thousands of listeners before. To achieve this use the slides as supporting visuals, and use yourself and your verbal pitch as the number one weapon to present your idea. 

Forget To Tell Your Story

You already know that telling a story is one of the key ingredients when pitching. Stories are emotional, and should definitely be a part of your presentation. They will pique an interest and prepare the stage for the numbers.

Forget To Present Your Team

Investors are eager to know what your team can do. They want to invest their money in people who can pull it off. The best way to do this is to present each person’s strengths and split the presentation up by expertise.  

Rush Through the Presentation

Even if you notice you’re running out of time, try not to rush through the presentation. It is for essential people to really understand your idea.

Winging It 

Don’t rely too much on your notes, index cards, reading your slides or making it up as you go. Failing to practice prior the pitch, shows how little dedicated you are to your idea and business. 

Using Buzzwords and Industry Jargon

Keep the pitch genuine using proof points, metrics, and anecdotes that the audience can grasp in a meaningful way. Similarly, steer clear of using too much industry jargon. Speak in layman’s terms so that the audience is actually listening to the description and not trying to figure out what was just said.

Too Much Humor While Doing The Presentation

A sense of humor is great, but using it too much can make things awkward. These people are professionals and they don’t know you too well to get your sense of humor. 

Forget About Body Language

Some people forget about their body language – don’t be one of them. Body language matters – stand up straight with your shoulders back, smile and show some passion for what you’re doing.

Go Over Every Detail

Too much information will do you no favor. People will become bored and maybe won’t receive the message right. Once you have your message down, make sure your slides are visually appealing so you can keep it interesting. 

Complicate Your Presentation

Try not to complicate your presentation or make it too long and full of information. Keep it simple. Remember – less is more.

Push Too Much

If the audience feels that they are being force-fed a value proposition to which they can’t relate to, their shield will go up and your presentation will be a disaster (don’t be salesy). However, by piquing their curiosity in a less forward way they would be left wanting more. 

Taking Questions Too Personally

Try not to be offended or take a persistent line of questions personally. Try not to argue, as well. It is not the point to prove them wrong, yet to educate them on your opportunity and get valuable feedback in return.

No Exit Plan

Investors would like to see a ROI within a reasonable timeframe and you need to show them how it is going to happen.

DO'S AND DONT'S.

Do’s

Tell a story and engage with people emotionally. 

Everyone loves to hear stories, even business people. So tell an exciting story about your company.

Limit each slide to expressing one idea

You would like to keep your entire audience on the same page here. Be short and clear in expressing your ideas.

Prepare to make a great first impression. 

First impressions are powerful. Use the first 2-3 minutes to make your impression, and if you do it well, half of your problems during the pitching are solved. 

Show the people behind your idea. 

Try to focus on a significant and relevant accomplishment of each person of your team. When presenting them, present them as winners.  

Keep a consistent look in the presentation. 

Mixing different fonts does not look good when doing a presentation. Use same font, size, color, capitalization format across all slides of your pitch deck. 

Know your metrics better than anyone. 

We all know traction speaks louder than words, so know your metrics and present them to your audience.

Dont’s

Don’t use too many bullet points. 

Too many bullet points will kill the presentation. Try to limit the bullets.

Don’t make it too long. 

Imagine you are the audience and someone is doing a presentation with 100 slides and takes 50 minutes. Hopefully they brought some nice pillows.

Don’t read from your script. 

Making eye-contact with your audience is important. If you read from your script all the time, you will miss the all important communication with your audience. 

Don’t create a picture-poor, text-rich presentation. 

Note that people can’t read and listen at the same time. Use more pictures. People will listen and you can engage and inspire them emotionally. 

Don’t come unprepared. 

When preparing your pitch, make time to think of all the questions your audience might have and be prepared with explanations.

Don’t use small fonts. 

Use fonts that can be seen by all audience members. Use 32 to 44 for titles and no smaller than 28-point for the text or points would be best.

DIRECTORS' THOUGHT:

Get to know your audience. I mean, really really get to know them. Find out what their names are, what they work, what they want and need in life. Use this information throughout your pitch and get amazing rapport that will make them your best friends.

8 FAMOUS PITCH DECKS.

Despite the pith of presentations, creating a pitch deck is no easy task. This pitch deck guide showed you the basics on pitch decks, but why not learn from the best as well? Here’s a list of the best pitch decks out there: 

LEGENDARY PITCHERS.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet… just joking. It’s been 13 minutes since this guide started and I think the best way to end it is to give you a list of the best out there. People that inspired us, and (in a way) mentored us to become better presenters, speakers and overall leaders. Enjoy.

Oren Klaff

INVESTMENT BANKER

An investment banker, bestselling author and a genius pitcher. His book Pitch Anything is the bible of all pitching books. 

Steve Jobs

founder of apple

Is it really necessary to say anything here? Remember the iconic iPhone speech? The master of stage presence and delivery.

Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook coo

If someone can make people take action in just 18 seconds then that’s some mighty persuasion skills that even Aristotle would envy. Check her out here.

Winston Churchill

wE SHALL NEVER SURENDER

Being bombarded day and night, and still be able to get up and raise the moral of a whole friking country, is a trait of someone who has big fucking balls and amazing oratory skills. 

Tony Robbins

Inspirational Guru

Janitor turned rockstar inspirational speaker. I think that’s enough to signify the type of pitching and presenting skills you need in order to succeed in life. 

Socrates

fOUNDER

Don’t let the marble head fool you. One of the founders of the western civilization, Socrates was sentenced to death after kicking ass at a public hearing and destroying his accusers. What a way to go eh?

FINAL WORDS.

Thanks for reading through this massive pitch deck guide. One of the main goals we have here at BB Director, is to teach people on how to become better at communicating with others, because we believe it’s one of the most important skills that people can have if they want to succeed in any area of their lives. We have more essential guides on the topic of communication like this pitch deck guide so feel free to check them out by going to the main menu. 

If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to contact us or drop us a comment below. 

Cheers,

BB

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