Speak and write in plain English.
Today I received a pitch deck for a company that is about to embark on their fundraising journey. The deck was good, and semi followed the typical pitch deck structure: problem, solution, market, product, etc. For confidentiality purposes, I can’t disclose what the business is about, but I am going to explain why I advised the team to simplify the deck.
- It had 13 slides, and covered most, if not all, key areas, but it was too long. Elizabeth Yin put it nicely a couple of weeks ago in her post — make it short and sweet: http://blog.elizabethyin.com/post/146511123230/the-ideal-email-deck
- It had a lot of good information, but a lot of the information was fairly technical. Instead of getting me to empathize with the problem and assimilate the solution, it conveyed that the team were experts on the subject. But the purpose of a pitch deck is to connect with your audience and win them over. Proving that you’re an expert will generate prestige, but it won’t establish that connection you need. This also means that the audience needs to be well-versed in the domain in order to understand the business. I will never forget Jeremy Irons in Margin Call: “Please speak, as you might, to a young child, or a golden retriever.” It’s weird how we tend to overcomplicate things and write different to how we speak. Speak and write in plain English. Paul Graham wrote a great article on this last year: http://www.paulgraham.com/talk.html
- They had great content but too much of it was text. A picture is worth a thousand words. Also, in my past life, I learned to “deck like an MC.” When I worked as management consultant, I worked in a highly competitive environment with a highly competitive team. There was a partner that was amazing at her job (being an MC) and was obsessed with PowerPoint. Her obsession was so intense that she created a course called How To Deck Like An MC, and taught consultants how to create the best PowerPoint presentations. She broke down the mystery of what made a really good presentation. My key takeaways were from her course were: 1. A picture is worth a thousand words, and 2. Keep your font size between 18 and 10; the closer to 18, the better.
The purpose of your pitch deck is to explain the problem you’re tying to solve and the product you’re using to solve it in the simplest manner. This will let your audience understand and will establish that connection you’re looking for.