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Pitch Deck Essentials: Webinar Highlights

This post includes highlights from the April 17, 2024 “Pitch Deck Essentials” webinar, presented by Renee LaBran, Co-founder of Women Founders Network. You may view the entire webinar on-demand on our website here, which includes the pitch demo by 2023 WFN Fast Pitch finalist Christine Wang, Co-founder of Keenly. Just sign up once to watch the webinars free of charge.


Purpose and Goal

pitch presentation

The purpose of a pitch deck is to generate interest and excitement about your business idea, not to provide all the information and data. The goal is to get invited back for further discussions, so you want a concise and compelling message that communicates very clearly what your business idea is, its value, and what problem you're solving.


You will need different versions of your deck for different audiences or purposes. It might be a 3-minute pitch, 10-minute pitch, or even a 30-minute meeting. Think about the purpose of the meeting and provide the right pitch deck for the objective of your audience.


Once you've given your pitch a few times, you will see what resonates and what doesn't. Where do you get stuck? What did people find really interesting and want to dig in on? And then you can iterate based on that feedback.


Think of yourself as a storyteller. When people walk out of that room, they need to be able to recount what you told them. If they are struggling to explain what your business idea is, you have not told a very clear story.


Look for helpful examples of pitch decks. Probably the most famous online example is the original pitch deck for Airbnb, and you may be surprised how simple it is! You should also watch founders pitching in other competitions. As you are listening to those pitches, you can evaluate how they line up against your pitch.


Your slides may be a little bit different, depending on your specifics, but you need to cover the following topics.


Must-haves for Your Pitch Deck

checklist

Problem and Solution

This is so critical—you need to clearly and concisely convey the problem that you are solving and what your unique solution is. This should not be a long explanation. What's the pain point? How is it being solved today? What's the solution? This is where you might share your “Aha!” moment—your inspiration to create a solution for the problem your business will solve.


What is your unique value proposition?

If it's not unique, it will be hard to succeed.


Why now?

Explain why now is the right time to enter the market. Discuss any new technologies, legislation, or changing conditions that make your solution timely and necessary.


How big is this opportunity?

Define your target market and assess the size of the opportunity today and in the future. Consider the total addressable market (TAM) and the serviceable addressable market (SAM).


Business Model

How are you going to make money? Are you a subscription service? Are you going to charge setup fees? Are you going to sell this through retail? Discuss your pricing, revenue streams, customer acquisition costs and likely retention and lifetime value.


Competition

Identify your direct and indirect competitors. Highlight your competitive advantage and why you will win in the market.


Customers

Clearly define your target customers and explain how you will reach them, today and in the future. One of the hardest things for a startup is getting their first customers. So being able to talk about who you are targeting first and how you're going to get to them in a cost-effective manner is really important. Discuss your distribution channels and customer acquisition strategies.


Team

What are the unique qualifications of your team to execute on this plan? Address any gaps in expertise and explain how you are solving them.


Financials and Metrics

We recommend a 3-5 year financial forecast. This is challenging, but investors understand it’s a forecast. You need to research average metrics for your market to ensure your forecast is based on reasonable assumptions. Be sure to include key metrics that are relevant to your business, and show how they're increasing over 5 years and how much traction you have today, if any.


What is your ask?

What are you looking to raise, and what are you going to do with the money? Rather than saying, “We're going to spend a third of it on marketing, a third of it on hiring staff, and a third on product development”, investors really want to know what you are going to accomplish with those funds. For example, "This will get me from MVP to ‘x’ customers, and where I can raise my seed round." Investors are all about managing risk. Every round of financing gets you to another point where you de-risk the company because you've proven something. So, you need to show that you're raising enough money to get to that next proof point.


Creating Your Pitch Deck

writing

If you begin by creating slides, you may end up throwing a bunch of stuff in there that you don't need. Think about your story first, then make very basic slides. The design should be the last thing you do.


Do’s

  • Simplicity usually wins. What you really want them to remember is that this was a big problem, and you have a great solution. It's a big opportunity and you have the product and the capability to solve it. If they need a lot of really specific data, they will come back and ask for it.

  • Think about presentability. This is not intended as a book for people to read.

  • Practice a lot! Don't get in there and assume that you'll figure it out. Nail the timing. Ask friends who have pitched to look at your deck. Test them to see if they understood what your value proposition was and if they understood the problem you’re solving. If they can't recite it back to you, you probably were not very clear.

  • Know your audience. If you have a very technical product and you are pitching to a general group, don't spend a lot of time on the technical details.

  • Have your backup details at the ready—you can have lots of appendices. Think about every possible question you may get asked, and make sure that you have something in there to cover it.


Don'ts

  • Don't get in the weeds by going into too much detail. By the way, that’s not just in your presentation. That's also in the Q&A. Answer questions concisely. If they want more details, they'll ask for them.

  • Don't get defensive when people ask a question. Not everyone asks questions in the nicest way, but you just have to be prepared for that. Stay open-minded and receptive.

  • Don't forget to proof; it sends a signal to people that you may not be careful with details.

  • Don't read your slides verbatim. Use them as a visual aid to support your presentation.

  • Don't have too many slides, or too many words on each slide. That is often the reason people don't get through their deck. Ten slides is a good length, in most cases.



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