10 Winning Slides: Your Pitch Deck
- April 7th, 2017
- 6 mins READING TIME
You’ve learned how to tell your brand’s story. Now it’s time to create your pitch deck.
Yes, now. [Or would you prefer to be scrambling to prepare for that unexpected meeting? Exactly].
Your basic pitch deck is like a well-stocked cupboard. Once you’ve got the foundations organised – your spaghetti, spices, olive oil – you’ll always be ready to add in some fresh bits and present something tasty with an hour’s notice.
The good news: You already have all the ingredients for a solid starter deck. Putting a streamlined structure in place will make your preso powerful.
Let’s get cooking.
10 Slides Beats 50
Shorter is better. People have limited attention spans and can only handle a few nuggets of new information per meeting (not per slide).
Being brief forces you to find and express the fundamental point for each topic. One topic per slide – be it in Keynote, PowerPoint, Google Slides, physical posters mounted around the room, whatever. One.
Visual Simplicity Please
We’ve all seen the 12 bullets slide or suffered the multi-variable graph featuring jargon in tiny font. These should be extinct by now, and yet – like mosquitoes – continue to annoy.
Keep it simple. One photograph or image per slide and limit text – a line or two – deployed for maximum potency.
Remember, you’re the hero of your presentation. Your deck is the helpful servant. Colourful punctuation to what’s being said – making it easy for your audience to follow along and synthesise new information.
Audience Needs First
Now, although you’re the star, this preso isn’t about you. It’s about how your audience will benefit from your business.
Everything you say and put in your deck must be framed with their needs in mind. How will you solve their problems? Save them time, money, hassles? Win them new business? Better achieve their aims?
Complete this sentence: By the end of my preso, this customer will know that my business is the only one that best _________, improving their outcomes by ___________.
Congratulations. You’ve defined your deck’s destination.
Now here’s our 10-slide template to help guide your path to that end:
These are not slide titles, BTW. No one wants to read the headline “Intro.” Make every word serve your story.
Slide 1: Cover Snapshot
Yep, your company’s name/logo goes here, but it doesn’t need to be the dominant visual.
Think about an emotion-sparking image to hook your audience’s interest and align the mood to your product/service. No corporate stock photos of mountain climbers, please. Dig deeper for a truer fit.
Slide 2: Brand Story/Bio Nutshell
Remember your one-minute brand story?
Here’s where you tell it – with passion and energy. Use storytelling to bring the audience into understanding who you are and why your company exists.
Slide 3: Services/Products
If slide 2 explains your purpose, slide 3 showcases how you’re fulfilling that mission with your services/products.
This isn’t the place for a wholesale catalogue of your fabulousness. It’s the time to unleash the most powerful word in English: “the”. Doubt me? Compare…
“Today, we are a leading weaver of alpaca capes.”
“Today, we are the leading weaver of alpaca capes.”
(Yes, garments for llamas, not from them. My pretend business, my rules.)
Maybe you’re not the leading something yet. No worries. You are “the” something. The first one in a certain location. The only one that does XYZ in a particular way. The best one at XYZ.
Deploy your most confident “the” statement and move on.
Slide 4: How It Works
Using the simplest explanation possible, share how customers engage with your product/service. Put the audience in the role of existing customer and help them imagine how the experience would proceed.
“Sharon, imagine how convenient it would be to order capes for all your alpacas with just one click. As you can see, everything happens from the landing page. Boom! Cosy llamas.”
Slide 5: Benefits to Audience
Think of the three major pain-points your company will soothe for this audience. Boldly state those three benefits – and personalise them to the specific people in the room.
Use your prior research on these prospects to customise your approach. The three key benefits may be the same for most every meeting, but tweaking how you phrase them shows you did your homework and care about THEIR needs.
Slide 6: Better than Alternatives
No need to name your competition. But if you can make a definitive jab at a general deficiency in the marketplace, do it here.
What’s the killer comparison between your offering and the current market? Highlight it.
Slide 7: Proof of Concept/Case Study
Demonstrate your awesomeness with an example. One or two, not six.
Maybe this is a quick video of your service in action. Maybe it’s a short story you tell about how you solved a client’s problem and what gains they enjoyed because of your solution. Maybe you pull out a prototype and pass it around.
Prove you know your stuff and move on.
Slide 8: Testimonials/Client List
People like to work with people who already work with other successful people.
Spend a few seconds showcasing your track record with clients. Include a testimonial quote that folks will remember.
Even if you haven’t yet opened the doors of your new enterprise, there are still opportunities to collect testimonials e.g. “Given the track record of the founders, I have no doubts about their abilities to reinvent XYZ. They’re unstoppable.” – Admired, relevant person.
Slide 9: One-Sentence Challenge Closer
You’ve kept them spellbound. You’ve kept it moving. Now you capture them.
Consider closing with an appeal to their self-image, a persuasive technique called altercasting.
Think about what role is central to your audience’s value system. Is it being the cutting-edge player? Is it being the best service provider? Is it being the most dogged about ROI to shareholders?
Use that information to frame a close that challenges the audience to live up to that role by partnering with your business.
“Terrence, you are always the first to bring your customers a better way forward. Are you willing to try our company as your next great offering to them?”
“Willing” is key. It breaks through resistance and moves you toward “yes” like no other word.
This technique requires homework to work. If you don’t know your audience’s hot buttons, stick with a simple close that revisits the core benefit and asks for agreement e.g. “Terrence, are you ready to save 5 hours every week on payroll tasks? Then you’re ready for us.”
Slide 10: Thank You + Contacts
Now for a big finish.
Make your final slide as emotionally punchy as your opener. Pick an image that brings energy and smiles to the room.
Be sure to have your contact info lingering on screen as you answer questions and plot next steps with your impressed audience. Well done!