by Neal Taparia
I’ve been seeing a lot of pitch decks lately. As a TechStars mentor, I’ve been fortunate to get to know the SmartOn, Edvisor.io and CreatorBox teams over the last few months and watch them develop and refine their pitches. I’ve also seen numerous pitches uploaded to our new Trackbat platform, which enables entrepreneurs to see if potential investors are going through their decks to gauge interest.
All of this got me thinking: What makes a great pitch deck?
Make a Point
If your audience doesn’t understand what you’re offering to provide, you’ve failed. Every slide you make and every word you speak should work to explain and clarify that purpose — that’s why your audience is there in the first place.
Follow the 10/20/30 Rule
Guy Kawasaki, one of the world’s foremost marketing experts and a man whose name should start to be on the tip of your tongue if it isn’t already, coined the now-ubiquitous 10/20/30 rule. Basically, your presentation should be no longer than ten slides, last no longer than 20 minutes, and include text in a font no smaller than 30 point.
One of the worst mistakes you can make while pitching is to surrender to “Death by PowerPoint,” which is basically just really bad use of the technology. That includes not following the 10/20/30 rule, not including images or video or anything visually appealing, and making the presentation your primary method of communication (rather than yourself). Don’t do it. Listen to Guy.
Present a Problem and a Solution
Sure, there are lots of other things in your pitch. But at the end of the day, that “point” we talked about is your unique solution to a nagging problem that hopefully has massive potential for success. Present the problem almost right off the bat and remind the audience why it’s so incredibly annoying and how many people it affects. Once they realize it’s something that really needs fixing, lay your solution out for them. At this early stage, don’t hit them with too much technical detail or behind-the-scenes information — keep it clean and simple, and make sure they understand your value proposition.
Also, be sure to tie in your story. Make your audience realize the opportunity exactly as you did. Make them feel that excitement. If the audience gets it, everything else can be smooth sailing.
Dive Into the Nitty-Gritty
There are a lot of things investors will want to hear about your idea once you’ve pitched the problem and the solution you’ve come up with. Important considerations include your business model, any technical information, marketing and sales plans, competition, the makeup of your management team, financial projections and key metrics.
When you’re discussing your business model, the most important thing to get across to your audience is how you’re going to make money. Yes, that’s obvious, but there are a lot of exciting things about a business model and it can be easy to get carried away. Don’t. If you have a revolutionary business model, make sure it doesn’t sound scary — explain it in simple terms. And remember, competition isn’t a bad thing to mention. Not only will investors ask about it, but it shows there is demand for your solution.
Be Passionate (Your Mom Was Right)
Passion, passion, passion. It’s the mantra we’ve been hearing pretty much since we arrived in this world: follow your passion.
There is a lot of truth in that. Passion for your project will possibly be the most effective means of communication because there’s no better mark of a potentially successful project. Passionate people truly believe in themselves and their ideas, and are the most likely to bring them to fruition.
So tell a good story and get those investors on your side. Yes, you need to be crisp, clear and concise in your pitch. But you need to do so in a way that shows the true love and purpose of what you’re doing. If you love it, they will too.
Neal Taparia is Co-CEO of Imagine Easy Solutions. They develop innovative educational products that are used by over 70 million students.
Originally published by StartupCollective