Investment pitches I’ve endured in the past have invariably been “death by PowerPoint”. Every detail is crammed into a deck and then overloaded with branding. It creates confusion, particularly when those pitching disagree over some of the detail during questioning.
When a small business was looking to attract investment to expand, I was commissioned to help prepare the pitch. Rather than overload a PowerPoint deck, I brought structure and order to the pitch, creating assets that ensured everyone told the same story, presentations were easy to learn and deliver, and robust analysis was available for those who wanted to go further.
Researching the data
Pitches start with data. Investors want to see what their return is going to be and have confidence the management team understand what’s needed to deliver.
There was already a lot of information in the business from financial and operating model analysis. I collated it into a shared spreadsheet, using my background in Business Analysis to identify and close gaps.
Everything that would go into the pitch was included in Excel, including the various comments and key points that were to be brought out. A discipline of “don’t touch the PowerPoint” was created where changes filtered through the Workbook before they were committed to a slide. That way everyone was working from the same data and messages.
Creating a Pitch Deck
Avoiding the usual “death by PowerPoint”, I concentrated on a handful of core messages. A smaller number of slides made it easier to learn how to pitch the investment, as well as encourage a more open discussion.
The design of the pitch deck was oriented towards on-screen presentations from laptops and tablets. Using a black background allowed the presentation to appear to fill a screen without a distracting letterbox effect.
The final deck was trimmed down to just eight core slides that were presented with a top-and-tail. Additional slides with more detail were hidden in the presentation and called upon when needed through links. These additional slides were never intended to be presented as part of the main pitch.
A printed pitch pack
Rather than “print the slides”, I created a second PowerPoint deck that was formatted to be printed. This included additional information and context, such as setting out underlying assumptions and detailing operating models, without distracting from the main pitch.
Formatting the slides to print on A4 paper gave the business options to either print or convert to PDF to send by Email. Cutting back on brand clutter (such as the usual “logo on every page”) and keeping the design clean and simple, and gave a professional feeling to the pitch.
One investment pitch resulted in three assets: an Excel workbook where all data and assumptions were kept, a simplified pitch to present on laptops and tablets, and a more detailed printed version.
The workbook ensured everyone was working to the same assumptions and messages, which cut out noise and confusion. The simplified pitch deck was easy for the team pitching to learn and encouraged and supported more open discussions. Providing the more detailed analysis as a separate take-away gave potential investors confidence they were talking to professionals who’d worked through their strategies.
Disclaimer: The original pitch was prepared in 2016. Live business data has been removed and dates moved forwards.