What is a pitch deck and how can you design one easily? Learn how to create the perfect presentation for your startup.

10 minutes
Written by: Natalia De la Peña Frade
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Successfully presenting a business idea is often quite complicated. If you are clear about the communication strategy to follow and know your strengths, a pitch deck can be your golden ticket to succeeding with the presentation of your project.

What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a sales technique used to communicate about a product or service, either to get an investor interested in your entrepreneurial project or startup, or to make it known in other areas, such as competitions or events.

When saying “pitch deck”, you can be referring to one of two things:

  • To the presentation or document you prepare to send to an investor, which must be attractive and contain all the key information, or
  • To the meeting in which you present that presentation

If you’re going to use a pitch deck as a first step to get the funds needed to carry out your business idea, your goal is to get the investors’ attention. You will almost certainly not leave the meeting with a check in your pocket, but you need to get a second meeting!

Whatever your goal, a pitch deck presentation should be brief. A good practice is to start with a powerful and descriptive statement of your business which will capture your audience’s attention. From there, you will go on to address the information relevant to investors: details about the product or service and the problem it solves, the business model, the monetization strategy, and the team capable of making it all happen. The icing on the cake will be a clear call to action.

Before we get into the best practices of creating an effective and powerful pitch deck, we’ll tell you a secret: No, your business idea doesn’t interest the investor (or anyone). The investor is interested in getting his money back soon – the bigger return on investment (ROI), the better. And any audience at competitions or other events will be interested in the ability that idea has to succeed in the marketplace.

Therefore, before you start creating a pitch deck, you need to be clear that it’s not just talking about your project, but that it does so convincingly. You need to ensure that among all the projects that an investor sees every day, yours is the chosen one.

This means prioritizing certain information. Your idea has to shine, but the ability of that idea to become a successful business has to stand out even more. It’s not enough just to have a great business idea. You also need to be able to present it well, making it interesting, engaging, and promising.

Want to see a real example? We’ll share one of Genially’s pitch decks with you.We’re sure it will inspire you!

What should your pitch deck include? Keys to creating one

The most common doubts when creating a pitch deck are how long it should last and what information it should contain. The truth is that there is no exact and universal theory for this. However, a good reference is the brilliant marketing guru, Guy Kawasaki, and his famous theory 10/20/30. According to this theory, a pitch deck should not contain more than 10 slides, should not last longer than 20 minutes, and should not include text less than 30 point size.

We should mention that in the 70s, when Guy Kawasaki developed this theory, Genially did not exist. Otherwise, he would certainly have taken animation and interactivity into account. Today, fortunately, we have more effective resources to draw our audience’s attention than 30 point size text.

Creating your pitch deck using a template will make it much easier because the template already contains the structure you need and a striking design, so you’ve got that part done, and can focus your efforts on gathering the optimal information to convey your idea.

With Genially, you also have two powerful resources to keep your audience’s attention and create the impact you need: interactivity and animation. With animation you’re sure to get the attention you need. And interactivity can be used, for example, to present information in a staggered manner – so it appears when your listeners are ready.

Remember, a pitch deck is a story

The structure of this type of content has a lot in common with that of a good story. A good pitch deck has an introduction, discussion, and ending, and must be effective in creating a connection with your audience.

At the beginning of the presentation, you should consider the problem that your idea solves because without conflict, there is no story. Then you should discuss the information your audience is waiting for, moving toward the ending, where everything is resolved and clarified. It must have a happy outcome, leaving your audience feeling good about the presentation and, at the same time, eager to hear more about the subject.

How is this applied in practice? Let’s look at the structure of the ideal pitch deck, defining each of the slides it can include. Remember that it is not mandatory to include everything. Use only the slides you need to express your idea convincingly.

      1. Title page

As you already know, you won’t get a second chance to make an excellent first impression. Your logo should appear here along with your company name and a phrase that fully summarizes your value proposition.

An example of a very famous pitch deck is the one used by AirBnB in 2007 which earned them $600,000. On the title page of their presentation they summarized their business with the phrase “Book rooms with locals, rather than hotels” – a concise 7 words. 

The ability to summarize and intrigue is evident. Put yourself in the shoes of the people who heard this phrase for the first time – don’t you think you’d want to know more?

    2. The problem

This is where you have to briefly and clearly present what problem you are going to solve with your product or service, how many people it affects, and what its magnitude is.

You’ll need to summarize a lot, and this is a process. The first time you try to express it in writing, you’ll likely exceed 100 words. Work on this until you have only the essential information: three sentences should be enough. By highlighting the keywords in bold, you will make it even easier to understand.

    3. The solution 

It’s time to talk about your product but careful – without tooting your own horn! The important thing here is to focus on how your product or service will solve the problem you raised in the previous slide.

It’s very important to reinforce the benefits of the solution you offer by highlighting two or three main points. Once again, summarizing is essential and presenting information in layers can be your secret weapon.

    4. Target market

Any investor will be very attracted to your proposal if you prove that there is already demand in the market for a product like yours. If you have data to calculate your business’ potential growth, even better!

One way to estimate the size of your market often used by startups is TAM SAM SOM analysis. It consists of calculating three indicators:

  • TAM or the size of the total market possible (Total Addressable Market) 
  • SAM or the market size that we are able to serve (Served Available Market) 
  • SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market), which is the target market, that is, the amount of SAM you calculate that can become customers.

You’ll find a graph helpful for expressing these concepts visually and in a concise manner.

    5. Competition

It may seem counterproductive to talk about products or services that already exist in the market and that are (more or less) capable of solving the same problem as you, but don’t make the mistake of leaving out this part.

First, you’re interested in demonstrating that you’ve done a deep analysis of the market you want to move into. Furthermore, if there are companies doing similar things in the market, it means there is demand for your activity.

It must be clear that you know the ecosystem you want to access and your place within it. To do this you will need to demonstrate the advantages that your solution offers over that of your competitors.

    6. Business model

Spend the time necessary to perfect the information you’re going to show here because it’s essential to the success of your pitch deck. How are you going to sell your product? How much will you charge for it? And most importantly, how are you going to make money? Incorporating all of this information into a single slide will not be easy, but you need to make sure it’s clear.

And it’s not enough to have a great idea: You need a good plan for it to take off and a powerful strategy to communicate it. In some pitch deck presentations, this slide goes before the competition slide. Choose the order that best fits what you want to express. 

    7. Strategy

It’s time to show off your marketing plan: how do you plan to attract customers? This is one of the greatest challenges of any company that starts its journey.

Outline the information about the actions you are going to perform and the channels you are going to use. Are you going to engage customers in events in any industry? Will you use influencers or affiliate marketing? Show the main points of your strategy and the impact you calculate they will have.

    8. Financial aspects

This is the slide that an investor will pay the most attention to. You need to provide detailed information about the forecast of revenue and expenditure for the next two or three years: Customers, sales, cash flow, and profit.

Be sure to base your financial figures on well-founded data and realistic assumptions so that when asked questions, you can competently support the information.

    9. Business Plan

In this slide, you will present the basic outline of the strategies that you will follow to run your business model.

A business plan is actually a fairly extensive document which includes information that you’ve already included in the slides above, but in this section you just need to summarize the most important parts of the plan.

The key here is to focus on data such as the size of your market and how you will access it, the sales forecast, or the cost of acquiring customers. A timeline that marks the  milestones you hope to achieve can be a useful format for outlining your plan

    10. Traction

This slide should only be included if you are at a point of development and growth where your business model has already been validated in the market. It doesn’t make sense in a company that is starting from scratch, but it’s key information for growing young companies.

When your business is newly created, it’s important to know how to show that things are working, that you are gaining users and making profits to project the right image and, where appropriate, to gain investor confidence.

Again, not much data is needed here: the key is knowing how to present it. A map showing sales figures can summarize the information in this slide well.

    11. Team

We’ve said that the financial aspect is the one that matters most, right? Well, the second slide that will be looked at most closely is this one.

Present your team honestly but don’t be afraid to highlight their abilities. Express what they are good at and how their talent and professional experience will help lead your business to success.

    12. Acknowledgements

How should you end? A good ending can include the words “Thank you” on the last slide, along with your company’s logo with the short phrase that summarizes your business activity and, of course, a powerful call to action.

The way you phrase this call to action depends on the tone you used, but it’s important to make it clear that you expect a response from your audience.

8 Mistakes to avoid

Now that you’re made the effort to gather the best information and turn it into a spectacular presentation, you don’t want to ruin it by making an avoidable mistake.

Luis García, Genially’s CMO, has made a list of some common mistakes to avoid. He has a lot of experience creating and presenting pitch decks. Thanks to his tips, you can learn about and avoid the most common mistakes.

  1. Putting too much text on the slides. Summarize your message, include only the essential words. Otherwise, your audience will be reading instead of listening to you. And you shouldn’t be reading the slides either! It’s much better if you can convey each idea visually.
  2. Including too much information, not knowing how to focus on a clear message. You can’t say everything about your company. It’s crucial that you arrange your information in order of importance and highlight the most important messages.
  3. Assuming people understand all the information. In other words, being so “inside the box” that you’re not able to clearly explain your business because you take for granted that your audience is familiar with certain concepts when they may not be.
  4. Not adjusting the message to the channel or audience. Don’t make the mistake of using the same presentation for all occasions. Your pitch deck cannot have the same structure you would use to present it if you are going to send it by email. And you may need to present your pitch deck to different audiences – presenting it at an entrepreneurial competition isn’t the same as presenting it to a group of investors. Adjust your message to improve the outcome!
  5. Not being transparent and convincing with metrics and explanations when finished. This can destroy a great pitch.
  6. Having a bad ending. Some people end their pitch by saying something such as, “And yeah, that’s it,” which ruins the effect of the entire presentation. Often people flip to the final slide too early, and this also creates a bad effect.
  7. Not including a clear call to action. This is a very common mistake and enough to derail all your efforts. What do you want to get from your audience? Making it clear is the first step in getting it done. Make sure you don’t leave the meeting without a call to action.
  8. Not keeping track of time. It’s also a common mistake to spend too much time on the first few slides and then be forced to skip information or omit important points on later slides. Almost all pitch decks have a set amount of time allowed. Practice as much as necessary until your speech is fluid, complete – and perfectly timed!

With Genially, you’ll find several templates designed to create memorable pitch decks – and the best part is, the majority of them are free! Use these templates to make the process of creating a pitch deck easier. Good luck with your project!

Templates to create your pitch deck

Natalia De la Peña Frade
Natalia De la Peña Frade
Content creator: intento escribir cosas que te guste leer
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