How to format your pitch deck? What is the right way?
The formatting of your pitch deck is incredibly important. Yet, it is not only one of the things that end up being a last-minute afterthought, but one of the most confusing to get right.
There are the right ways to format your pitch deck. It is smart to understand the best practices for putting it together before you get started. So, what do you need to know? What’s the best way to do it?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Why Pitch Deck Formatting Is So Important
The presentation is just as, if not more important than what you are saying.
Putting a lot of lipstick on a really terrible business won’t always help, or get it funded.
Though it can be surprising at what terrible businesses and products get funded and become market-dominating forces, just because they are marketed well.
The opposite is also true. There are plenty of incredible and much-needed ideas and products, created by hyper-intelligent engineers, which never stand a chance at getting funded or becoming real businesses.
Just because the marketing and presentation are terrible or non-existent.
Yes, the data is important. Though, when it comes to pitching investors and trying to get funded, your plans can actually be less important than demonstrating your ability to deliver what is desired in the right format.
It is as much about checking the boxes investors have as it is demonstrating you have a great idea.
The Purpose Of Pitch Deck Formatting In A Nutshell
The overriding purpose of formatting your pitch deck is so that you get it delivered well, and achieve the correct positioning in terms of value and match for your target audience, and which results in compelling the desired action from them.
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It should show your ability to focus and your strengths, as well as your ability to understand the startup and fundraising game. That’s why it is critical that you learn how to format your pitch deck.
The Slides You Need In Your Pitch Deck
Your pitch deck formatting begins with listing out the slides you will include. This is your framework that everything else will be put on.
A basic early-stage startup deck will likely utilize the following slides.
But a later stage startup may justify adding a few more slides to account for additional products, subsidiaries, previous rounds of funding, and if there is a substantial financial history.
- Cover slide
- Market size
- Financial projections
- Funds being raised
Formatting is only one of the many facets of how to create an elevator pitch deck. For more detailed information about how that should be done, check out this video I have created.
What Goes On Each Slide In Your Pitch Deck
What information needs to be included on each slide in your deck? Once you have that sorted, you can move on to understanding how to format your pitch deck.
The cover slide
The cover slide should include your startup’s company name, logo, tagline, and contact information.
This is your chance to make a good first impression, and to compel viewers to keep on paying attention and swiping through to the next slides.
The problem slide
This is the basis of everything. This is the slide where you crisply show that your startup has a strong problem, and what it is.
Here you have to clearly convey what this problem is. You want to show the pain. Ideally in a way that your audience can relate to, and shows authority in that you have verified the problem.
The solution slide
This is where you lay out the general idea of how you plan to solve this problem. What is the big idea for providing a cure to the pain?
The market slide
This is where you show how big this market is. Then boil it down to how much of that can be yours, and how big your company can potentially be.
For investors, this shows how big their investment can potentially go, and how prestigious it may be.
The product slide
Here is where you wow them with your product. Not every feature and engineering detail, and potential use cases and benefit.
Just what is the most important? Your current product, MVP or prototype, and the one thing it will do to solve the problem 10x better than anything else out there in the market.
The traction slide
This is your chance to show that you are not only able to think up great ideas, but more importantly actually able to execute on them, and to make consistent progress.
This is where you show what notable markers you have been able to accomplish. As well as that you are able to consistently achieve growth.
The team slide
Especially when it comes to earlier stage startups the strength of the team can be the most important factor when it comes to getting funded, and even securing other help.
You not only want to display a capable team with a respectable track record, but one which is likable, trustworthy, and the best possible team to manage this investment and great a business around this problem.
The competition slide
You have competition. Even if you don’t think you have any direct competition now, if your idea is worth anything, you will have competitors.
The point here is to use them to positively position your business. To show your advantage, and value, and to do it quickly.
This can encompass a lot of information that needs to be distilled and conveyed quickly.
The financial projections slide
The purpose of this slide is to show what your goals are, what your expectations are, what you are promising to deliver to investors, and what it means for their investment.
It is also equally about showing that you really know your stuff, and are being honest with them.
The ask slide
This is where you get into the ask. It may be as simple as how much you are raising in this round, to what you are offering, what other investors are involved, and who is leading this round.
Investors are also going to want to know what categories you plan to spend this money in, and what it will help your company achieve.
Formatting Text In Your Pitch Deck
Text is a big part of your startup pitch deck. It is how most of your information will be conveyed.
How you format the text in your pitch deck can also really let you down, or it can help force you to get all of your other formatting right, and ensure your message gets across clearly.
Be wary of using too many font styles in your pitch deck. One or two is enough. When you start using three font styles on a slide it is going to get messy and become more of a distraction for viewers.
Your font style choice should be chosen for simplicity and clarity of conveying your message, as well as for branding.
It has also been recommended never to go any smaller than 30 points with your font size. This forces you to use less text. You only want a line or two, or up to three bullet points per slide.
Balancing Images Versus Text In a Pitch Deck
When learning how to format your pitch deck, understand the value of images. Due to using a minimal amount of text on your slides as we’ve already prescribed, you are also going to want to use images.
As they say “images can speak 1,000 words.” Only they take up a lot less space and speak them much faster.
Also, remember that different people process information in different ways. Some like to read. Some like numbers and pictures. Others prefer to listen.
Don’t overdo it. You also need to ensure your slide presentation works smoothly and sends smoothly. Which can be a problem with too many large images in your deck.
A 50/50 split between images and text is probably about right.
Using Visuals In Your Pitch Deck
There are a variety of visuals you may choose to use in your pitch deck.
You can use some type of simple background or border to make your pitch deck more interesting. Just don’t make it too busy and messy.
Pick your colors wisely. Color psychology can play a significant role in pitch decks and getting funded. You also want to make sure those colors match your overall branding.
Visuals you will want to include in your deck include:
- Your logo
- Product images
- A diagram of market size
- Charts showing your traction and growth
- Charts showing your competition and market position
- Profile pictures of your team
- A table showing your financial projections
Be sure that you have optimized the size of your images, and that they are of the highest possible quality.
When it comes to creating charts, graphs, and diagrams, it is smart to keep them easily adjustable and dynamic for updating and demonstrating a variety of scenarios on request.
Understand their value when learning how to format your pitch deck.
Your Pitch Deck Script
In some cases, your first opportunity to show your deck will be in tandem with giving a live presentation. In others, the goal of sending the deck is to get into an investor meeting where you will be able to pitch live.
Whatever may be the case, you need to be ready with your verbal pitch. That means starting out with a strong and effective script until you have it down really naturally.
This can be a separate printed script or index cards. It can also be scripted into your pitch deck in the presenter view notes section.
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.
There are an increasing number of programs and file formats to choose from for your pitch deck. Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides continue to be among the most popular. There is some crossover between these formats, but not everything will always convert smoothly.
The most important factor in your choice probably should be how you intend to share and present your pitch deck to prospective investors.
What devices will you be using? What email service will you be sending with? Will you be sharing it via a link to your deck in the cloud and a virtual data room.
Remember that you will also be including supporting documents such as a cover letter, business plan, marketing and action plan, financials, and your latest investor updates.
End file sizes are important too. It will determine how easy it is for you to work with the file, and if it will not only get through to investors, but be opened, viewed as you hoped it would, and shared.
Who Should Format Your Pitch Deck?
If you choose a solid pitch deck template you will already be a few steps ahead in formatting your pitch deck well. This will make it far easier should you decide to do a lot of your own pitch deck creation.
If you already have a strong in-house graphic design team then they may be able to do most of what you need in terms of visuals and file sizes.
The other alternative is to hire a specialist agency to do everything for you. This may not come cheap, but it can simplify the process and result in a great end product.
A hybrid alternative to this is to use the help of freelancers to assist with professional copy and scriptwriting, graphic design, and overall formatting.
You can get a top-notch deck done, without agency prices, but you may have to be more engaged in the process. Keep these tips in mind when learning how to format your pitch deck.
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.