6 Slide Deck Guidelines for a Great Startup Pitch

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Ahhhh the art of the pitch. A never-ending love-hate relationship you’ll always have with your startup. Giving a pitch is more than just memorizing information and delivering it to an audience. It’s about connecting with an audience to get them to buy into what you’re doing.

That being said, how you give your pitch matters.

Slides are just the beginning of a great pitch. What you say counts more than what you put on any slide. Click here for our Ultimate Pitch Guide, packed with all you need to know about designing, delivering, and nailing any pitch.

Giving a great pitch is not just about what you say, but you how present the information as a whole. Remember, this isn’t a data dump. Your brand & personality have to shine through.

Follow these guidelines for slides that knock it out of the park.

1. Design matters: Make slides beautiful.

Your slides should make the listener excited about what you are saying. They should be beautifully designed. Use clean, easy to read, big font. Don’t use bright colored or fonts. Don’t make it sales-y. Try to use your slides to show your brand. Cut out any animated texts or transitions as well.  

2. Keep your slide design simple.

Only use a few words on each slide. A good way to decide what words to use is to think about prompting words for yourself when giving the pitch. You NEVER (I repeat NEVER EVER) want to read from the slides. Instead, use them to your advantage to prompt you. Every single word on your slides should have intense purpose. Otherwise, take it out.

3. Use lots of imagery (strategically).

Make sure to use lots of imagery (at least one picture, graph, or other visual on each slide) to keep it interesting. Here are some good ideas of imagery to use in your deck (for the sake of this example, let’s say you’re product improves helps farmers improve crop yields by protecting their crops from freezes).

  • Images depicting the problem: Showing images of dead crops after a hard freeze

  • Images depicting your target market: Showing images of the farmers you are targeting

  • Images that reflect the industry that you’re in: Showing general pictures of agriculture

  • Graphs and Charts that display your data visually: Showing a chart comparing the results on crop yields using your product vs a competitor

  • And of course, include images of your team!

4. Make your Financial Projections Clean

Yes, you need to present some numbers (like forecasted revenues and expenses) but you don’t need to present all of them. Know what are the key points. Also, round your numbers. If you’re projecting $213,544.67 in expenses, round it out to $214,000. Onetime, we projected that very number, the question we got asked was, “Where is the 67 cents coming from?” Seriously! The investors point was that using overly detailed drawn out projections is silly, because your projections are likely to be wrong anyways. Instead, use whole, rounded numbers.

5. Keep your slide deck short.

We had an investor who said if you come to him with a pitch that is more than 2-3 slides, he’ll walk away. I remember thinking, “holy crap what are we going to do now?” We scrated using slides all together and designed a visual one-pager instead. Then we just talked through it. Knowing what slides you need and how many of them you should use depends on who you’re talking to.

6. If you’re doing a traditional VC pitch or pitching in a business plan competition. Here are the typical slides you would want to include:

Note: This is a suggested order. All pitches will be different and it’s up to you to figure out what flow makes sense. We suggest trying this flow first then improvising different versions of it to see what sticks.

  • Title Slide

  • Problem Statement/Opening Statement

  • Your Solution

  • Your Target Market

  • Competitive Analysis

  • Timeline/Next Steps

  • Financial Overview

  • Team & Advisors

Remember, slides are just the beginning of a great pitch. Sometimes, you'll find yourself in the position to give a great pitch, with no slide deck (we're talking about the coffee shop encounters, networking events, and all other situation where you're networking!) What you say counts more than what you put on the slide. Click here to download our free elevator pitch guide, packed with tips to help you craft the perfect 60-second pitch.

Maggie BartonComment