One thing I've learned from all the entrepreneurs I work with at Springboard: raising capital while running a company is not easy. Pitching investors is a different mindset and skill from pitching your product. Which means there are lots of great companies with great technologies but terrible investor pitches.
I don't believe that the investor pitch needs to follow a standard format. But whether you follow a template or chart your own path, here are a 10 small fixes and tweaks to give your investor pitch deck a makeover in under an hour.
10 Quick Tweaks to Create a More Compelling Slide Deck
1. Re-title your slides
Too often slides are titled 'team', 'competition', 'market'. In an investor pitch, where you have such little time to capture attention, every word counts. Don't tell them something obvious (they will know it is your team slide when you start talking to it). Spoon feed them. On every slide, give your most important take away for that slide, and do it in less than 10 words. You'll know you've done this right when you can write down all of your slide titles in order on a sheet of paper, and see that they make a compelling and differentiated business case on their own.
2. Remove large blocks of bullet points and text.
Overuse of bullet points is common. Make sure you don't. You never want to read your presentation. The only time you'll be tempted to read your slides is if you have too much text on them. If you're worried about forgetting what to say or losing your place, you need to practice your pitch until you know it cold and learn to use your slide titles as triggers. People can read faster than you talk, so by reading you will quickly bore the audience and will create a dichotomy between getting their attention on you not the slides. This also applies to customer testimonials so only include a snippet of the larger quote or bold and say only a portion of it. This is ESPECIALLY a problem if you've given out a printed copy of the slides in advance.
3. Add visuals.
If a picture tells a thousand words, it's the only way you'll cram a whole lot of information into your slide deck without overwhelming the audience. But don't use stock photos since people ignore them. This is important insight for your slide deck. We want to know the picture is real. That said, it is better to use explanatory photos rather than decorative photos. Try Canva if you're not a Photoshop whiz, and compress your images with Smush.it so you can still send it by email.
4. Reconsider that video, sound or animation.
In general they are a distraction, but they also make the potential for technical issues are exponentially higher (is the video embedded or linked? is the sound hooked in properly and at the right volume, etc.) If you take the risk of including these kinds of multimedia in your pitch, be prepared for everything to go haywire. Only exception is if video is part if your product.
5. Add a splash of color.
Solid colors with a clean font-type can go a long way. Don't use the default slide template colors. Spend a little time to make the color theme match your logo. Use COLOURlovers or 0to255 to turn your logo into a color palette. Stick to dark text on a light background unless you're an expert on contrast and readability.
6. Add your logo and one-line description to your cover slide.
It's the first thing people see, and chances are it will be displayed before you say your first word. Let it introduce you and your company.
7. Add your contact info (and any other calls to action) to the last slide.
What do you want your audience to do? If the goal of your pitch is to get a follow-up meeting, make it easy for them to follow up. End with a crystal clear "ask" that spells out what you want their next step to be.
8. Drop the summary slide and any title-only slides.
They're a waste of time. In my experience most investors would prefer your just make the pitch, and not do the "tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them."
9. Add photos of the team and logos of previous companies to the team slide.
The first makes it personal. The second demonstrates credibility visually. Make sure you are on this slide, front and center. People invest in team, and want to know you can execute on your next set of milestones. Don't just list everyone's accomplishments, focus on the core complimentary expertise each person bring's to the table.
10. Double check your financials. Make sure the math is right.
Nothing kills credibility faster than a simple mathematical error. Never do your financials in haste, and know them (and the assumptions you used to create them) cold.
Investors invest in teams, markets, and businesses. Not slides. But if you've got the right ingredients for a compelling investment opportunity, I hope this gives investors one less reason to tell you no.