“We made too many wrong mistakes” – quote from Yogi Berra
I have seen hundreds of “decks” and heard as many pitches and have also studied others’ guidelines on how to hone a pitch. Unfortunately, I have also seen loads of mistakes so I thought I would offer my approach to the pitch process. In doing so, I have unashamedly borrowed from many others and added my own thoughts to hopefully provide guidance to help you avoid typical missteps.
First, please keep in mind it is the substance of the content that really trumps presentation techniques. As the old saying goes, putting ‘lipstick on the pig” does not really win the day. The focus of this blog is the presentation methods and it will be in two parts. The first part will consist of some general pitch deck guidelines as well as some helpful presentation hints. The second part will contain “the” 15 slides you need for your perfect pitch. While some pieces of this have been covered in prior blogs, I thought it best to consolidate some thoughts here.
When it comes to some general pitch deck guidelines, you may want to consider the following:
- Keep the goal of a pitch in mind – it is a succinct overview of “the problem” and your solution with the goal of having investors wanting to know more. It is not to close a funding.
- Watch your colors – light blue text on dark blue background is hard to read; clear trumps cute
- Less is more – bullet points and concise ideas (not sentences) rule and limit to 5 – 6 lines per page
- Avoid acronyms – everyone is not as knowledgeable as you are
- Slides should be bold and clear and work in a larger room
- Any content (facts) should be sourced
Of course, if you are successful in obtaining the “all important” meeting, after confirming all the logistics including the amount of time you have, you may want to consider these helpful presentation hints:
- Limit to one presenter – the person who best articulates your vision is my choice
- Maintain good energy and passion without coming across as being on something
- Relax – you are probably more knowledgeable about your company than others in the room
- Stay on point and on time – you want them to see the whole “show.” Practice using a timed presentation tool.
- Avoid grandiose statements – especially knocking off Facebook or the multibillion dollar market leader.
- Keep it simple – try the pitch on intelligent friends first
- Practice – they do not expect a finished Broadway show but will kill a dress rehearsal. Pitch advisors and ask them to cut it apart
- Spend some time explaining how you will overcome the toughest challenges
- Avoid exit strategy discussions – smart investors can draw their own conclusions
- Encourage questions – in the end – it should probably be 60% you talking and 40% you listening
Armed with these presentation ideas, all you need is a framework for your deck to kill it. How do you know you will cover all the relevant points? For that answer, please see Part II of this blog.