How to Create a Pitch Deck - A Step by Step Guide

So, you want to build a pitch deck?

What an exciting phase!

Get funding, clients, and team

Let me count the ways

 

Pitch decks for the startup

Pitch decks for the B2B

A very visual document

That tells your true story

 

Consider your audience

Consider your needs

Make your case

Be clear, concise, and clean

 

That's my little poem for you guys this week! Blame it on Valentine's day if you like, but I was in the mood to give you a little something different this morning. All rhyme's aside, I want to delve into our answer to the following common question founders ask: "How do I create a Pitch Deck?"

 

How to Create a Pitch Deck

 

This can be a daunting task for even the most savvy entrepreneur. You are likely an expert in your field, know your customers like the back of your hand, or have built something really amazing. You spend most of your day (and night... let's be honest this isn't usually a 9-5 endeavor) working on your business, building it, growing it, getting it to the next stage. Eventually that next stage leads you to... drumroll.. the pitch deck! A pitch deck (also called an investor deck, pitch book, pitch presentation, and other synonyms) is an important document for any company. No matter how big or small. Often you're looking for investment, exposure, team members, mentors, or clients when you first hear about / start looking into the art of the pitch deck.

While there is an insane amount of depth I could go into to dicuss pitch decks, and how to create them, I'll hit the high points in this article. Overtime we'll write some more in depth explorations of various parts of this process. When we do, I'll add some links below. Subscribe to our mailing list or RSS feed to be updated on new articles!

 

Basic Steps to Build Pitch Deck

I'm going to compare creating a pitch deck to cooking a meal. I might be using this analogy because I am hungry, but it is relevant all the same. You need to prepare to cook a meal, first you need to be hungry, know what you want to eat, and have the time to cook. You need to have the relevant content for that meal ie: the ingredients gathered together to make it with. You need to create the meal itself, you need to use the right tools and actually cook with the ingredients to make the meal, and finally, you need to use the meal in practice. You need to taste it, share it with your friends & family and decide how you might cook it a little differently next time. Heres how those steps are laid out for building your pitch:

 

Preparation

  1. Have a Company (Duh!)
  2. Know your Audience
  3. Know What you Want
  4. Plan for Time / Any Assistance

 

Content

  1. Gather Key Content
  2. Statistics and Research
  3. Storyboard & Messaging
  4. Note on Financial Projections

 

Creation & Design

  1. Know your Brand
  2. Gather the Right Tools
  3. Visual Design
  4. Work with a Professional

 

In Practice

  1. Updating and Iterate
  2. Get it Out There for Feedback
  3. Pitch Live, Practice Often

 

Click Here to Download the "Top Ten Mistakes Founders Make on their Pitch Decks"

 

Create a Pitch Deck - Step by Step Guide

Let's dig right in!

 

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Preparation

  1. Have a Company (Duh!)
  2. Know your Audience
  3. Know What you Want
  4. Plan for Time / Any Assistance

 

Have a Company (Duh!)

Ok, so this one is pretty obvious. To create a pitch deck for your company or concept, you're going to have to have one first. It really is rarely too early to get started working on your pitch presentation. But you do need something. What is the idea? What is the product? Who does it serve? What are you working on? Make sure that you've got the building blocks of your business laid out. This is the foundation of your pitch. It is that which the whole thing will be about. We're pitching the business: specifically the opportunity to invest, to buy the product, to sponsor the cause or to join the team.

 

Know your Audience

When preparing to put together your pitch presentation, you need to know who you are pitching to. Think about what they care about? What are they going to get out of it? If your pitching an investment opportunity, who are these potential investors? What do they usually invest in? Why is your investment a good deal / safe bet / big opportunity? If you're pitching to potential clients, think about who those clients are? What are the challenges they face? How does your product make their life better, easier, more profitable, etc.

 

Know What You Want

Think through what your end goals are. This will frame everything you put together in your pitch. You'll never be able to achieve them if you don't ask for them. Close every pitch with the next steps. The call to action. Make it really easy for your audience to do what you want them to do. Contact you with questions? Sign up for updates? Join the team? Sign up for a live demo? Know what you want, and lead your audience to that next step.

 

Plan for Time / Any Assistance

You are a busy entrepreneur. Your days are filled with wearing many hats, and putting out many fires. Be aware that putting together your pitch deck is not going to be a 2 hour, Friday afternoon task to check off your list. We find that founder who put together their pitch deck on their own entirely, tend to take a minimum of 8- hours for the entire exercise. More if the founder does not have a natural design-eye. Make sure that you factor in enough time to work on your pitch deck. Alternatively, factor in time to work with a designer. A pitch deck professional can reduce the amount of effort you put into your pitch down to a couple highly focused and effective hours. For example most of the pitch decks we create tend to use about 2-3 hours of our clients' time. That's because we use a variety of tools and techniques to streamline the process, and as experts in business, storytelling and design, can bring all of the messaging together in a way that would take significantly more research, rework, and iterations without us. Plan time to work with designers before scheduling your big pitch too. To make sure it's pitch perfect, plan on a few weeks to finalize the pitch deck.

 

Need Help with Your Pitch Deck? Check Out Our Pitch Deck Design Services

 

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Content

  1. Gather Key Content
  2. Statistics and Research
  3. Storyboard & Messaging
  4. Note on Financial Projections

 

Gather Key Content

You'll need to gather key content for your pitch. This can feel overwhelming, but it really isn't that complicated. If you're in business, and have some traction or a toe hold in your market, this will be even easier than if you're in an earlier concept phase. You're more likely to already have these things, because you needed them in the normal course of businesses. Depending on the type of pitch you are preparing, here are some things you should gather / have:

  1. Know your customers and the pain points they face
  2. Know your solution and how it works to solve their problems
  3. How do you make money?
  4. What is the size of your market?
  5. What is the product offering / tiers of service?
  6. What is unique about you / what you do?
  7. Information on your team, and unique skill sets
  8. Financial projections
  9. Competitive intelligence
  10. Your marketing and sales strategies
  11. Your launch plans, and/or major milestones

 

Statistics and Research

To make your case compelling, believable and rooted in the truth, you are likely going to need well researched information. There are many ways to define a market size or to splice up market segments. The Three R's rule for statistics: Make sure that you always find relevant, recent, and realistic data to back up your arguments. The worst thing is being called out for old data or unknown or distrusted sources.

 

Storyboard & Messaging

Once you've gathered all of this relevant content, you'll need to start sifting through it to pull out the compelling message and a story line or thread along which you will build your pitch. Contrary to MANY blog posts out there, there are NOT 10 slides you need in your pitch deck. There is no one way to create your pitch, and it should be completely unique to you and your company once you're done with it. The worst thing you can do it follow a tired script, and simply fill-in the blanks on the "top slides." Your pitch is not a collection of answers to common questions. It should have a clear story arc, a flow that brings the audience along with you on the journey, and a clear and compelling conclusion.

 

Note on Financial Projections

If you're looking for funding, you're going to need financials. These are the past and projected revenue and expenses of your venture. Investors will clearly need to review these financials in detail during the due diligence phase of your discussions with them. Your pitch will cover and contain the high points and the major financial sign posts that interest an investor. But, it won't be everything. You need to make sure you also detailed excel spreadsheets with pro formas, assumptions, projections, etc.

 

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Creation & Design

  1. Know your Brand
  2. Gather the Right Tools
  3. Visual Design
  4. Work with a Professional

 

Know Your Brand

To create an effective and consistent pitch deck, you need a clear brand. If you're company does not yet have a logo that you love, make sure that you have one created. Here at pitch deck fire, we look at pitch decks holistically as a part of the greater whole of your company's external messaging. So we have in-house logo design experts that our clients often utilize to make sure their brand is on-point as we build their pitch deck. Gather your logo files, your color schemes, your consistently used images and graphics. You're visually telling your story, and it needs to feel cohesive with every other piece of material that your audience may also see. Your website, your sales deck, your one pager, your business card, your handouts, your social media streams. Tell one story.

Click Here to Download the "Top Ten Mistakes Founders Make on their Pitch Decks" 

Gather the Right Tools

Pitch decks are essentially visual documents. They are also often used as visual aids during live presentations. As such, more often than not they are creating using slide design tools. Check out our recommended pitch deck design tools here. The most commonly used is of course the tried and true Microsoft PowerPoint. When used right, these tools can be powerful platforms for creating visually stunning pitch decks. Though when used poorly, it can be used to create text-heavy, uninspiring, stale and cookie cutter presentations. In addition to a slide design tool, pitch decks should be chock full of graphics, icons, and images.

 

Visual Design

The meat and potatoes of the pitch deck creation process is the stellar visual and graphic design. A few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you design your deck:

  • Keep it simple and visual
  • Reduce text as much as you can
  • Include compelling images
  • Keep all colors and styles in-brand
  • Use logos and icons to show instead of tell
  • Watch white space and reduce crowding
  • Live presentations can have more slides, but simpler slides
  • Avoid distracting animations and transitions

 

Work With a Professional

Using a pitch deck design expert can dramatically increase the effectiveness and professional appeal of your pitch deck. Their eye for not only the story and overall message, but also the professional and visually appealing design is very valuable. Start working with a designer as early in the pitch deck creation process as possible for best results.

 

Need Help with Your Pitch Deck? Check Out Our Pitch Deck Design Services

 

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In Practice

  1. Updating and Iterate
  2. Get it Out There for Feedback
  3. Pitch Live, Practice Often

 

Updating and Iterate

Know that your pitch deck is a live document. It lives and breathes and changes just like your business does. Your projections and go to market strategy evolve as your industry, customers and competitors shift and change. On top of that, each time you use a pitch deck for a different purpose, or a different audience, consider their new point of view and needs. You very likely will want to create different versions of your deck for different audiences (ie: an investor deck vs. a sales deck or client facing pitch deck), and for different uses (ie: presenting live vs. sending as a visual document). Make sure you work with a designer who gives you the source files for your deck AND is available to you over time for updates.

 

Get out There for Feedback

If you have mentors, be sure to give them a copy of your deck. Experts in your field, or in the funding process, may be able to give you valuable insight into the effectiveness and clarity of your pitch. Make sure that you spend the time to gather their feedback and implement necessary changes into your pitch. Beware though, mentors can be misleading and can contradict each other. Working with lots of mentors often leads to Mentor Whiplash. >>Check out this article on mentor whiplash and how to deal with it<<

 

Pitch Live, Practice Often

If you're preparing for any live / in person pitches, you should start to pitch as soon as you can. There are a lot of local opportunities to pitch in your town. 1 Million Cups can be a great resource, as is House of Genius. Lots of cities host pitch competitions as well. Practice in front of strangers as much as you can, it's the closest thing to the real deal. Practice like you're going to play. If you need specialized help, we offer pitch review and coaching services that our clients find very valuable. Multiple sessions allow you to iterate on your pitch, and fine tune your delivery to that you're fully prepared when you step into the room / on to the stage for your big pitch.

 

In Conclusion

Whew! There you have it. How to build your pitch presentation from the very first step, to the very last. I hope this guide helps you to understand the whole process of putting together your pitch deck, and prepares you for success as you embark on this exciting journey for your company. If you need any help, or just want to talk to an expert, feel free to reach out to us here at Pitch Deck Fire.

Happy Pitching!

Pitch Deck Design

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Are you working on a pitch deck? We can help!

We are startup storytellers. Pitch Deck Fire specializes in pitch deck design and presentation. Whether you’re looking for funding, clients, or growth, we can build a professional, engaging and effective pitch deck for your startup.

Find out more on how to get started with a custom designed pitch deck or schedule a pitch practice session today.

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STARTUP STORYTELLERS
Welcome! I've put together these resources and articles to help you tell your story, and achieve the funding, clients and growth you deserve!

Stacie - Founder & Lead Designer

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