5 pro tips for presenting your startup pitch deck

There is plenty of advice online on creating and presenting a startup pitch deck. They range from:

  1. Templates
  2. Pitch decks of successful startups
  3. Tips from presentation gurus
  4. What to present and how to present

Here are five pro tips for your pitch deck, which I have learned over the years, and sparsely present elsewhere.

1) Use speaker notes

If you are a mortal like me and speaking in front of a large crowd disorganizes your butterflies then you cannot simultaneously organize them and think of what to say. Instead, you use ‘Speaker notes’ section of your presentation software to minimize the crunch time stress.

Using a script, written in the speaker notes section keeps your slides on message. The written text reduces repetition, prevents content overflow into other slides, and ensures each slide gets its allocated time.

Bonus: Rehearse and write down the time taken. When presenting to an audience where there is a fixed allocation of time, you can time each slide and write down the time taken in the notes section. Sum up the individual times to target ±10% of the total. 
The example slide below was part of a 7-minute, 10-slide pitch with 110 seconds earmarked.

2) Simplify your charts

While presenting a slide, you have less than 10 seconds to either engage or lose the audience until they comeback. If there is a complicated chart on the slide, their analytical brain will get busy deciphering the numbers, slices, and growth. While they are working on interpreting a pie or a table, they are not consciously listening to your audio. Take a look at these two charts on the left and right for comparison.

3) Talk about what your product does, not what it is

You may be making a shovel with an anodized blade, hickory handle, and a soft grip. Nevertheless, the audience wants to know its use — shovel snow? Alternatively, something else? While presenting a product slide, the utility of a feature comes out within the context of its use. Additionally, it makes the narrative easy to follow when the “what the product does” comes before “how the product does it.”

4) Establish credibility (thrice)

While you are presenting, during mid-sentence pause, during slide transition, your audience is silently asking, “why should I trust you?” or “who else trusts you whom I trust?”

Answer the trust question in three places to establish credibility:

  1. On the title slide, show endorsement logos of awards, industry analysts, and investors
  2. Half-way through, show customer logos
  3. Show media praise towards the end

5) Show a case study

A case study or how a customer successfully used your product is an opportunity to tell the story again. It shows that your product hypothesis has evidence. It connects what your product does to who uses it to why they used it. A case study also adds a bonus point for establishing credibility. The mockup below is a format that has worked for me in the past.

An example template of case study slide

Hope this helps. Happy pitching.