You know that part on The Office where Dwight gets to plan the office birthday parties?
In case you’ve missed this iconic moment, I’m talking about the scene with that ghastly banner (the one with the brown text on a white background) which spells out a depressing message: “It is your birthday.”
Everyone who’s seen that moment has a good laugh at Dwight’s expense because his party planning style is just objectively awful.
But while we may get a good chuckle out of Dwight’s decoration, no one wants their pitch deck to be the startup equivalent of Dwight’s banner.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to take a look at a few common things you might be missing from your pitch deck and how you can avoid giving off Dwight vibes the next time you pitch.
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a flashy name for a presentation.
It’s your digital way of showcasing yourself, your startup, and all your hard work for investors, prospective clients, and anyone else who needs to know what you and your business are all about.
And that’s exactly why you want your pitch deck to be awesome. You believe in your idea and you’re proud of all the hard work you’ve put into it.
But if your startup is to be successful, your future clients and investors need to see what makes you special and feel the passion that drives you to make your startup succeed.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make a PowerPoint that really reflects that passion.
Public speaking is frequently rated as a more common (and more intense) fear than heights or spiders, so even if you’re an awesome entrepreneur, you may baulk at the thought of presenting your startup via a pitch deck.
But that fear doesn't have to hold you back.
When we consider the common components that are missing from most pitch decks, we can address fatal flaws before they happen and elevate your confidence.
So, thanks to these tips, you can present your pitch deck with the confidence that comes from knowing you’ve done everything right.
What to include in a winning pitch deck
A compelling hook
This might sound surprising, but a successful pitch deck is not necessarily designed to help you secure startup capital.
While that may be one thing you seek to do with your pitch deck, it’s not quite the ultimate goal. That’s because a successful pitch deck is, at the core, one that generates interest.
Rather than designing a pitch deck with the aim of securing funds, you should try to design a pitch deck that hooks your audience’s interest.
We’ve all sat through mind-numbingly boring presentations before, so that means you already know how quickly people check out and lose interest if a presentation isn’t compelling.
So, your goal is first and foremost to generate interest. How you generate that interest will likely be specific to you and your startup.
Every business has a story; something that sparked a passion in you, like a desire to solve a problem, help others, or make the world a better place. You can use your pitch deck to showcase that and make people want to listen.
A good pitch deck should spark interest but also be informative. Whether you’re trying to tell a client what you do or ask an investor for funding, your pitch deck should provide all the relevant information in a clear and accessible manner.
But most people’s eyes start to glaze over when you get into graphs and numbers. And that’s why it’s crucial to craft a pitch deck that presents your information in an intriguing way.
You won’t be able to get away from graphs and numbers, especially if you’re talking to investors, but you can present that information in a way that isn’t boring.
So, instead of throwing out a bunch of numbers, try to showcase your information in the form of a story or solution. You can begin by presenting a problem and then demonstrating how your startup offers a solution.
When you hook your audience by telling a story that positions you as the solution, they’re much more likely to keep listening, even once you throw in all the technical stuff like your market demographics and the measurable numbers that reflect your product’s opportunity to succeed.
Creative marketing consultant Shani Shoham has listened to hundreds of pitches and noticed that many pitch decks are missing the same crucial ingredient: traction.
In Shoham’s experience, many young entrepreneurs are so desperate for that successful pitch that they cram their pitch decks full of information and completely miss the one key thing that helps you stand out to an investor.
If you’ve ever heard the saying ‘a goal is a dream with legs,’ you might have a good idea of what Shoham is talking about here.
Many new startup founders are insecure about their lack of experience and worry that a lack of paying customers may count against them when they’re pitching to investors.
But Shoham says many new entrepreneurs have more experience than they realise.
If you’ve done a great deal of market research, made valuable connections in the business world, and created a clear and actionable plan for marketing your product, you already have the necessary traction that will help your business succeed.
So, instead of worrying about demonstrating paying customers or powerful investors, focus on showcasing the things that take your business from the dream stage to the goal stage.
Anyone can dream up a good idea for a startup but it takes perseverance and hard work to take your idea from the ‘dream stage’ to the ‘actionable goal stage.’
That’s what you want to showcase in your pitch deck.