How to format a pitch deck? What is the right way to execute the formatting?
Getting the format of your pitch deck right is just as, if not even more important, than the content on your slides, all the details of your startup, and the investment opportunity.
Many do not fully appreciate this. This, in turn, leaves them shut out of funding and the ability to bring their ideas to life. Or give them the chance they deserve in order to really scale to their potential.
So, what is the best way to format a pitch deck? Why is it so vital to get it right?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
The Importance Of Getting The Format Of A Pitch Deck Right
Why is this so vital for startups?
There are actually several reasons that this is such a pivotal factor for businesses.
The most prominent and first to come to mind may be for fundraising and pitching potential startup investors.
If it is not formatted correctly, you will not be able to share your pitch deck effectively. Even if it gets through, and opened, if the formatting isn’t right, many investors will instantly dismiss it, and your startup.
It seems foolish to let all of your other hard work, sacrifice, and great ideas wasted on something so fundamental.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
The same applies to others you want to engage in your startup as well.
Experienced cofounders, talent, and advisors are all going to expect a well and correctly formatted pitch deck as well. It is the first impression. One which can make or break your hopes of bringing the best on board.
If your formatting is off, then it is just going to be a distraction. They are going to get hung up on that, instead of taking in the great things that you have to convey. They have too many other opportunities to field each day.
Then you are going to be left with the inexperienced who don’t know any better. Which can be hugely expensive for your venture, and immediately give all the advantages in talent, connections, and capital to your direct competitors.
What Do We Mean By Formatting A Pitch Deck?
‘Formatting’ can actually apply to various elements of a pitch deck.
The first thing that may come to mind is the type of file format and document type to build, save, and share your pitch deck in. This is a major factor. Though there is more to formatting than this alone.
Correctly formatting your pitch deck also means getting the flow of content and organization of your data correct. This is a huge deal. It will make or break your recruiting and fundraising efforts.
This also flows down to picking the right formatting for your text and fonts, and how you lay out each slide in your pitch deck.
Then also, the formatting of your individual images and visuals, as well as your theme and design.
Keep in mind that in fundraising, storytelling is everything. In this regard, for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Best Practices For Formatting Your Pitch Deck Slides
There is one overriding principle for formatting your pitch deck.
This is to keep it simple.
Clean and simple should be your guiding principle for all decisions about your pitch deck, its formatting, and everything that goes in it.
That means viewers should be able to clearly read all of your content from the back of a room, even if they forgot their glasses.
It should be easily digested in two and a half minutes or less.
Everyone’s grandmother should be able to read it and get it.
If in doubt, simplify it some more.
What Is The Right Format For Your Pitch Deck Slides?
Getting the right flow, and order of content and slides in your pitch deck is critical.
Here is how to organize your content, and effectively present your information on each slide.
The Cover Slide
Your cover slide should include your:
- Email address
- Best social media handle for the platform you are most active on
- Your company logo
- Your company name
The Problem Slide
Concisely sum up the problem your startup is on a mission to solve.
One paragraph, of one to three sentences, should be sufficient.
While this may seem limited, and investors certainly want to know that you have clarity on this problem, and a deep understanding of it, you can use your verbal pitch to tell your story around this slide.
The Solution Slide
This is where you deliver the big idea.
Here you will present how you intend to go about solving the big problem from the previous slide.
While your customers may have several needs and pain points, and your solution may well simultaneously deliver a number of benefits, it is important to just hone in on one main thing you are solving here. The rest is all just a bonus.
You can have one main headline point. Then three bullet points that give a high-level view of your solution and vision. This is one of the critical facets of how to format a pitch deck.
The Market Size Slide
Market size is one of the big make-or-break data points for startup investors.
Use a visual that instantly makes it obvious that this is a huge market opportunity. Plus, how much of that your company could possibly take on. As well as the portion of that market you will begin focusing on targeting right away.
The Competition Slide
Use a clear graphic to position your company against the competition.
A great way to do this is using logos of your competitors on a diagram, with your logo out in the lead, up and to the right.
Pick three competitors that best help you cover the positioning you want to own in the investor’s mind. Whether that is quality, a successful investment, speed of growth, or brand recognition, or something else.
The Competitive Advantages Slide
Use this slide to further demonstrate and point out how you are superior to the competition.
Pick three to five of the most compelling bullet points to show on this slide.
Be sure that they are true advantages. Even better if they establish an advantage over both existing incumbent competitors, and future competitors (both existing companies that may want in on this, and new startups that may try to follow in the footsteps of your success).
These should be clear, sustainable, advantages, which are substantial and defensible.
The Product Slide
Use an image of your product when you format a pitch deck that instantly shows what it is all about.
Ideally, this will be of a real version of your product, in a real-life situation.
Even better if this is in a situation that your audience can relate to themselves.
You may use a small amount of text next to the image to pitch your product. Just one or two lines.
This is another slide that you will talk about, and use your storytelling skills to expand on when you are delivering your pitch live.
The Traction Slide
Use a graph on this slide to show how fast your startup is growing.
Pick the one data point which is most relevant to your startup and stage of business. One which you are focused on driving, are excelling at growing at an acceptable pace for investors at this round, and are confident you can continue to deliver on as a part of your milestones and promises before raising another round of funding.
The Customers and Engagement Engagement Slide
Use up to six bullet points on this slide to explain who your customers are, and the engagement you’ve had with them so far.
This may include the type of customers you are targeting. Whether they are retail consumers or enterprise-level businesses.
You may mention the feedback you’ve received, notable contracts inked, and key data points like retention rates.
The Business Model Slide
Use a simple graphic that gives a high-level view of how your business works.
What is the cycle? How do you bring in customers and make money?
This may be a good place to highlight anything unique and superior about your business model.
You can fill in the details for investors during the Q&A portion of any live pitches and investor meetings.
The Financials Slides
If you are a brand new pre-revenue startup, then this will be just one slide. A financial forecast of what is possible in the next 1-3 years.
If you have been operating and have sales, then you will have an additional slide before this, which gives a snapshot of your financial position and recent financial performance.
In both cases, these slides will just be a simple spreadsheet. Just a few lines with the major financial categories.
The Amount Being Raised And Other Investors
Simply state the amount you intend to raise in this round.
Below that feature the logos of your current investors. Or those that have already committed to participate in this round. Including this information is critical when you want to format a pitch deck correctly.
The Use Of Funds Slide
Use a graphic or several bullet points which list the major categories of expenses and investments that the capital raised in this round will be dedicated to.
Feature a headshot profile photo, the name, job title, and perhaps a one-line bio for each of your cofounders.
Use the same format as your team slide to display the great advisors that you have brought on board.
Back Cover and Contact Information
Place your logo and contact information on this slide.
Even as you’re reading up on how to format your pitch deck, you might need more information on how to create the pitch deck, to begin with. Check out this video I have created, explaining in detail how it’s done.
Formatting Your Pitch Deck Theme
Whatever software you are creating your pitch deck in will no doubt offer a variety of theme options and backgrounds.
Again, keep it simple. Be wary of getting too busy, and distracting your audience. Or slowing down your presentation and making your file too large.
Your design should match your brand identity, colors, and other online assets. It should be a seamless transition.
If you haven’t gotten that far with your branding yet, then you want to be strategic in thinking about the design elements and colors that will best resonate with investors.
Formatting Your Text & Fonts
The text should be written in short simple sentences. With a preference for bullet points. Use large fonts that force you to use little text, are easily readable, and match your branding.
Formatting The Visuals In Your Pitch Deck
Be sure that the graphs, charts, and diagrams that you use transfer well between the different ways you may save and present your pitch deck.
Images should be original and high quality.
Make sure to optimize image sizes to keep your whole pitch deck minimized for easy sharing and presentation.
If you plan to host your pitch deck online at some point, you may even choose to use SEO keywords in your file names and tags.
How to Format a Pitch Deck File For Sharing
Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides are the most popular formats for creating, presenting, and sharing pitch decks.
You will most likely be downloading your file in a Powerpoint format. Try to keep the file size small. Certainly under 5MB.
It is even wiser to host your pitch deck online and share a link to it, instead of trying to share an attachment that gets out of your control.
How To Organize Your Other Supporting Fundraising Materials
Your other documents can be saved as Word and PDF documents, or Excel spreadsheets, and loaded into your virtual data room online.
Formatting is incredibly important for pitch decks. It can make or break your fundraising efforts. In fact, it can heavily influence the entire DNA of your venture, and the talent you are able to bring in as well.
Use this guide to help you format a pitch deck, elevate the potential of your startup, and bank the funding you are seeking.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.