How do you know if your deck is good

PITCH THINKING #8: How do you know if your deck is good?

Tl;dr: Learn how to know if your pitch deck is good or if it still sucks before you start your fundraising process. 

Pitch deck thinking course outline

You are now on part eight of the pitch deck thinking course. We’re making progress!

  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 do you know if your deck is good?

Do I suck? The question Socrates and Plato asked… not. But… every founder should.

Your deck needs to be good enough, not perfect.

Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto noticed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the affluent in Italy. 80% was enough to be pretty wealthy… they didn’t need the other 20%. The other 20% would have been a lot of work. With much in life, you need 80% which is attainable. I.e. do enough, don’t be perfect if 80% gets the result. You can read about Pareto here.

What is good enough?

There are four categories of things you want to think about:

  • Content
  • Narrative
  • Structure
  • Appearance

Content

Content is king. This is all investors are trying to consume. There’s no point in having a pretty deck with crappy content.

  • Are you covering the things investors want to know?
  • Is it clear what it is you do!
  • Are you communicating the best things about you?
  • Do you have data to support claims?

I can’t tell you what good content is. You need to know yourself.

Narrative

The narrative is about how you communicate your content in a flow. How you express things slide by slide makes a big difference in communicating your content.

You want to introduce content at the right time. For example:

  • I don’t care about how you make money till I know what you do
  • I don’t care about your solution till I know the problem
  • I don’t care about your defensibility etc.

Does your content flow slide to slide and introduce concepts at the right time?

Structure

The structure is about how you structure up your content to be consumed.

Some examples of structure are:

  • Consistent headers
  • Left and right boxes with headers explaining what’s in the box
  • No more than about 5 points in a box
  • Using graphs instead of text
  • Using icons
  • Use of white space

Can you easily read your content? Is it clear what your content is and how it relates to the topic of the slide?

When you play with the structure you will often realize that you have too much content and need to cut the text.

Appearance

I had a debate on twitter with a VC I like. He made a comment that he questions founders that have a deck that looks too nice. I wondered what examples there were of that!

His basic point was that founders who spent too much time making a super nice deck were probably not focused enough on execution (which you are probably delighted to hear) when nice enough was good enough.

I’ve shared my list of decks that are publicly available. If you look as nice as some of them, you are cool and the gang. If your deck looks like a mangled ork from starcraft then you are off base.

I’m talking about the superficial. Apparently personality matters more than looks, so your content needs to be looked after first, then the structure and finally the appearance. If you get the content, why not just get the appearance a little better too 😉

Appearance is easy for most to tell. You aren’t ashamed of it.

Tips on your pitch deck

Here are some tips:

  1. You don’t need a designer. You don’t need to spend $10k making something in InDesign. You do need to make something reasonably inoffensive to the eyes. Yes, I know that is a bore
  2. Don’t take anything personally. Listen. Do not be defensive. Smile! If you ask someone for feedback, be open to any and all feedback. If you don’t seem open then you won’t get real feedback
  3. Take pride. If your deck was posted online, would you think, booyaka, I did that! You know if you did good work
  4. If you want feedback, don’t ask mother. Ask the crankiest person you know for feedback. Even Scrooge will give you positive feedback if you rock. You do not want nice people to give you feedback
  5. Ask any investor you know. If you know any investors, ask them for advice. Hey, they might even give you cash! They deal with these painful decks every day, so use your network
  6. Ask friends in startup land. Ping any CEO/CFO you know and ask them if you pass the flick test
  7. Ask staff. They will have a view. You want to hear “Is that what we do?” from staff instead of investors
  8. The goal is to get interest. Remember raising is about the escalation of commitment. A deck gets you into the room. It gets you interest- it does not get you cash
  9. Pass the flick test. Do you?

There’s no metric for good, it’s a sense you get. Ping an investor and get feedback. If they spend very little time something might not be right in the state of startup. Have another go at the deck then email more investors. Don’t blow your load on every contact you have at once. Iterate.

Ta da!

That’s that. The next installment is here: How to send your deck to investors.

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