Tl;dr: 25 tips on formatting your pitch deck to make sure you do it right.
Pitch deck thinking course outline
You are now on part eleven of the pitch deck thinking course. This is the last one.
- What pitch material do you need?
- What is a good deck?
- The importance of narrative
- What are the key questions investors will want to get from your deck?
- How to approach writing decks
- The flick test
- Who do you trust with the pitch deck? Can I have an NDA?
- How do you know if your deck is good?
- How to send your deck to investors
- Formatting your deck
- 25 tips
If you can’t face them all at once, you can join the course and get these sent straight to your mailbox here:
Formatting your pitch deck
You know quite a lot now, but the devil is in the details. So here are a list of little things to remember and check for.
- Page numbers. Use them- they are handy to refer to. I don’t put one on the cover slide and the closing slide
- Add sources to any claims. Don’t write the market is $5bn. Who said it? I write “Source: JP Morgan, Pirate trends, 2017” in size 10 font at the bottom of the page on the left-hand side. This is what bankers do and it adds credibility to anything that you say and shows you did research
- Use wide format of 16:9. You get a lot more space than the boxey (but bad) 4:3 ratio. I also think 4:3 slides look ugly these days
- Sell your team! Does your team slide give people the impression you are awesome? 70% of an investment decision is the team! I want to see your face at the top, a few bullets on why you are rad and maybe awesome logos at the bottom if you have them. No essay
- First slide says exactly what you do. No joke, I read some decks and think ‘I have no idea what they do?’ That is bad. See the forest through the trees. Explain what you do very simply upfront
- Use PowerPoint to make your deck. KeyNote is nice, but most people don’t use it
- Send in PDF. Don’t send the original PPT/Keynote file.
- Check fonts and sizes are the same. You may have messed up, have a quick check
- Contrast. Be 100% sure the text is easy to read. The function is more important than form. Black on white so to speak. Be careful if you have translucent backgrounds as text can be hard to read. Don’t sacrifice readability for ‘style’
- Consistency. Make sure headers are in the same position etc. Consistency feels better when you flick through. If you set up a proper master template, you won’t have this issue though
- Don’t be weird. Don’t show your personality through the use of Comic Sans. Er on the side of professional
- Delete buzz words. Contrary to belief, saying you do AI does not add to your valuation if you don’t really do that
- Remove technical wording. Some people do hard tech. Unless you are 100% sure your investor is a bigger nerd, don’t write stuff like “We specify the forward pass of a vanilla RNN. This RNN’s parameters are the three matrices.” Better is “Our system is better as we remember what was done before to do better next time.” Most investors are not as smart as they pretend to be, so don’t make them feel stupid. Remember the flick test!
- NEVER SHOUT. Never capitalize all letters
- Consistent backgrounds. You want to have the same format of the background. Yes you can change the look of the background and use more white space etc for certain well-styled pages, but be as consistent as possible so you don’t distract
- Keep charts simple. Don’t make crazzzy charts. Keep them simple. Your time series on the x-axis should be spaced properly, as with the Y-axis. Label clearly. Use a header for the chart and say what the chart says so the investor doesn’t have to figure it out. Spoon feed. Also, generally fancy 3D charts never work- use simple line and bar charts
- Tables. Well formatted tables are fine, but don’t go OTT with text. The main use of a table is to show a competitive matrix of how your features (read benefits) are different from competitors. Here you can just use the labels for text and use tick marks instead of text
- One big idea per slide! Does each slide make one point? Does it sell? Is it helping you? Slides with info ‘just in case’ are not needed in your pitch deck. This is a sales deck, not an academic paper
- Rule of three. My MD in banking taught me the rule of three. You can always explain things in three points. People like three; it’s not too much and not too little.
- Always have some visuals on a slide. Never only have text on a slide. You can also always design a slide to not be a series of bullet points by adding some icons
- Metrics matter. Have numbers. Remember show don’t tell? If you have great metrics and a growth trajectory, show that! Look at the Front deck, they focus on what matters- metrics and growth.
- Use dollars if you raise internationally. I get decks from India a lot and I can never remember what Rupees mean. Yeah, you may be in London, but if you try getting $ from the Americans, $s are easier. I just feel $ is understood by everyone. All of my fundraising models are made in $ as it’s impossible to change syntax, and $ is the universal currency everyone understands. Use Dollars in your startup, especially for your financial model
- Do you get the message? You are not talking to your pitch deck, even in a meeting you shouldn’t. You know a lot and your audience does not. Make sure you do not assume prior knowledge. Don’t assume anything. Make your deck simple and absolutely be sure an investor knows everything you want them to in the deck. Don’t forget to explain what you do…
- Be structured. Put everything in a box. Have headers where you can. Make content easy to consume
- No interstitial slides. Your deck shouldn’t be more than 24 slides. Do not have slides in your deck which just say “Industry” or “Market”. Your deck needs to flow slide to slide without the need for them
There we go! Hope that’s useful.
If you want some more reading, check out: 35 ways on how to make a pitch deck from what not to do
That’s that. Go work your ass off mofo.
When you want to shoot yourself in the head, reach out to Perfect Pitch Deck and you can get expert-level help to get this nightmare done.
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