How to approach writing decks

PITCH THINKING #5: How to approach writing decks

Tl;dr: Learn the process to start writing a pitch deck the right way so that you tell a story. 

Pitch deck thinking course outline

You are now on part five of the pitch deck thinking course. Keep it up buddy!

  1. What pitch material do you need?
  2. What is a good deck?
  3. The importance of narrative
  4. What are the key questions investors will want to get from your deck?
  5. How to approach writing decks
  6. The flick test
  7. Who do you trust with the pitch deck? Can I have an NDA?
  8. How do you know if your deck is good?
  9. How to send your deck to investors
  10. Formatting your deck
  11. 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:

How to approach writing decks

Here’s a big learning for you: you need to change how you approach writing your pitch deck.

What most people do is open up PowerPoint, start chucking in text, maybe following some format and then hope that it sorts of addresses all the key points you have decided you want to say.

Only… you end up with a crappy deck and no narrative.

I used to be the same way. Crappy decks.

After many years, I figured out a secret to share with you.

You need to change how you approach writing decks, fundamentally.

Start with a Word doc (or paper)

I know you are going to fight me on this. I’ve tried with my founders and they ignore me at first. It’s super annoying as we end up doing it my way, but after wasted time. It’s ironic since this is faster and gets better results.

Open up a word doc and press ‘bullet point.’ Congrats, you have started.

Now what’s important to remember are the key points you need to address. We dealt with the questions VCs want answered in the last email, but what I think about are these points:

  1. Vision (What are you going to achieve… or what is it you do!?)
  2. Problem (What are you solving)
  3. Solution (How are you solving)
  4. Market size (How big is the market)
  5. Competition (Who you competing against)
  6. Product (What does your awesome stuff do- show me)
  7. Timing / special sauce (Why now and how you are special)
  8. Revenue model (How you make money)
  9. Metrics (Have you achieved anything)
  10. Team (Who is going to kick ass)
  11. The ask (How much do you want and to do what)

You don’t need to answer these all on a specific page, but you do need to answer them. I recommend learning this off by heart as it is a super useful way to know how to pitch.

This is your process:

  1. What are you actually trying to achieve? What do you want to sell for? What does your envisioned future look like? Create your sense of purpose. This grounds the goal of your deck
  2. Think about the 11 points (above) and then about the most important points you would say to support each one. Have some strong view around them
  3. Write the ‘feck you list.’ This is clearly something I made up 😉 Pretend you are in an argument with an old friend who called you a loser when drunk. The FU list are all the points you say to say you are not a loser are instead awesome! What are the points you would make? That’s your FU list. You need to make sure these points are incorporated in your deck. Write them down and check them off as you write the content of the deck later
  4. Write a draft of your pitch. You want to write one sentence per bullet point. Each bullet is going to be the header of each slide in your deck. You’re talking about ~15 words max. Do not have any fluff. This needs to be to the point
  5. Review what you wrote. Does each sentence speak to you? Are there any pointless, or buzzy words? Does each sentence flow? They won’t so redo it. Spend time crafting each sentence. This is basically your whole deck! It’s your narrative. Do not wimp out here
  6. Then open up PowerPoint or Keynote and paste each bullet point to the header of each slide. You have one slide for each bullet. Now run through the deck, tapping down. Does it make sense in the deck?
  7. Depending on how you set up your deck, you may have a subheader under the heading. You can now add a subheading to support the main point. I like this approach
  8. Now you can start adding the supporting content on each slide… yay! That’s the easy bit now

Do you get what we just did? You wrote your deck in a doc instead of starting in powerpoint. You absolutely made sure that no matter what happens you actually:

  1. Have a narrative: you tell a story
  2. Answer investor questions: you enable investors to filter fast (like we talked about)

This approach is so helpful, I really recommend you do this now!

Ok, what I do is actually a bit different. I actually write the whole deck in the Google Doc and only structure things up in PowerPoint. A lot of founders struggle with how I do it and find it easier to do more in PowerPoint as it’s easier to visualize.

Mic drop

That’s that. The next installment is here: The ‘flick test’.

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