What Slides Should a Pitch Deck Include?

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Do you know how some of the most successful companies have been able to get where they are now? This isn’t by chance! Behind every pitch deck is an even bigger deal, sale, or investment that was key to creating success. In today’s world, pitch decks are essential for presenting your business and often make or break your business taking it to the next level. However, creating a pitch deck that has all the information your audience needs, while keeping them engaged, is an immense challenge.

This challenge is why most successful slide decks rely on a simple formula to convince investors that the business is worth their time and money – The hero’s journey.

We all know the hero’s journey. Remember high school English class? The story goes that the hero is pursuing a goal, then faces a challenge. Before they lose all hope, a powerful force intervenes and gives the hero the ability to succeed and meet their goal.

When creating a pitch deck using this technique, you put your audience in the role of the hero in this journey, and your business as the powerful intervention that will help them reach their goals. By placing your audience in the hero’s shoes, you make your business story and ask, a story about your audience. You convince them you thoroughly understand their challenge, and that you have the key that will help them overcome it. Then you paint a picture that entices them to envision the glorious way their life will look on the other side of their particular challenge, and reiterate what they need to do to implement the solution.

The ultimate goal is to make your audience feel your help will make them successful. It’s a win-win situation. Using The Hero’s Journey, your audience will feel emotionally invested in your presentation, which in turn, will make them more attentive to what you are sharing, and keep them engaged in the call to action at the end.

Slides to Include in a Hero’s Journey Pitch Deck

Designing the perfect pitch deck involves a delicate balance of information and persuasion. While the viability of your ideas rests in your business plan, it’s up to your pitch deck to seal the deal. To be successful pitching, your slide deck should include the following vital slides and details to help your audience make an informed and motivated decision about your ask:

1. Cover slide.

A cover slide is simply that; the cover to your presentation. This slide should represent your company in a visually branded and attractive way. Even if your company doesn’t have an official brand book or professional designed branding package just yet, you should have a professional presentation designer create something that looks sophisticated and well-suited to your company’s mission and goals. This should include:

  1. Your company name (usually as a logo – even if you use a placeholder graphic as a logo to get started),
  2. Thoughtful colors that use color theory to present your company properly to the potential investor or buyer,
  3. The title of your presentation (this can be very straight forward, or use a question or bold statement as a hook for your audience),
  4. Optional – your name, the date, the logo of the company you are presenting to, and the names of its representatives.

2. For Longer Presentations: An outline or agenda.

If you’re presenting a highly detailed business plan complete with reports, financials, and marketing strategies, consider creating a table of contents to let your investors know what they should expect during your presentation. If you have a clear outline, it can help them organize their notes later for the Q&A session.

3. Presenter or Team Slide.

From there, it’s time to thank your audience for coming and introduce them to who you are. Your audience can’t connect with you, or embark on this journey with you, if they don’t know who you (and your team!) are. This slide should be brief and take no more than 30-45 seconds to present, but ideally should include photos, names, and job titles of you (the presenter, and any people key in the presentation or the business.

4. Present the Problem.

Get to this part as soon as possible after your introduction to build the required tension to draw your audience in. The key here is to make sure your audience takes on the emotional role of the hero here. You need them to be fully aware of the problem and the peril of their situation living with this problem. Really hit on those pain points and relate it to them! You can go a step further and explain the outcomes if they let this problem fester. The more the audience has to endure, the more invested they will be in your solution. The “problem” is the big challenge your audience will face in their journey, and your role is to help them overcome it. The more valuable the deal, the more tailored this section should be. Added bonus – if you do this well, your audience will also feel that you truly understand them and the problem, or in other words, are an expert in your field, which is very important in gaining the trust that will get you their buy-in at the end.

5. Introduce your solution.

After you build up tension with your audience, lead them to the solution. The solution you come up with should be applicable, and attainable, for your audience. As you present this, do so in terms of the benefits it provides to your audience. This is where you are Obi-wan and they are Luke Skywalker, so the positioning is that your solution will help them to succeed in their quest to overcome their problem. You are not the hero that saves them, but the facilitator of them being the hero of their story.

As you explain your proposal, paint a picture of the results your audience can expect if they implement your solution. Illustrating these outcomes, whether it’s an achievement or gaining something of value, will help your audience understand how your solution will help them overcome the situation and touch on how their life has improved as a result. Favorably explain results to mirror the negative language used while explaining the problem and building tension.

6. Explain how your solution works.

Your goal here is to illustrate that your solution is something your audience can actually use. Don’t get into a deeply technical breakdown, but speak your investor or buyer’s language, and relate to them on their level. At the same time, make sure you know your science/numbers in case a savvy investor comes at you with specific questions. Back up your solution with the appropriate level of research and data to prove you know what you’re talking about, and build your credibility with the audience.

7. Illustrate the product and specific outcomes.

You want your solution to be something they can really envision realistically. The key is to have them picture themselves using your solution to wipe away their problem, and you want to paint that picture for them, so they emotionally engage with the relief they will feel living in a world where their problem is solved. How do you do this? Where possible, show, don’t tell.

Create product graphics, mock-ups, or pass around a physical product and bring it for your audience to see. The more tangible, the better. Just make sure that whatever mock ups, models, prototypes, or graphics, are realistic.. And if you bring a product sample or prototype, make sure it works! While your audience is engaging with the product in whatever format you are presenting it, be sure to drive home how it looks when your hero implements your solution and saves the day.

8. Recap what you’ve talked about.

In the end, highlight the salient points you want your audience to remember. This could be key financials, accomplishments, future goals, the amount you’re asking for, etc. Use a simple slide here with the relevant information that encourages your audience to take action. While you’re restating your main points, mention how your audience will feel as the conquering hero and how your business will help them achieve their goals, whether that’s money or securing a new product.

9. Clarify the next steps.

This is the part where you ask for what you need to provide the help the hero needs on their journey. Include details like the investment you’re looking for (and the equity in return), outline a pilot test, or explain the pricing. This is a great spot to show an aspirational image of the product or happy customer engaging with your solution to have on the screen while you provide the pertinent details and a clear call to action, at which point you can open up the floor to questions!

Building credibility with your audience.

While this isn’t a slide, it’s still a non-negotiable aspect of your pitch deck. If you want to convince your investors that your business idea is viable and worth their money, you must prove you’re trustworthy. You can display this by mentioning the research you’ve done for this project, the money you’ve invested, or the background knowledge you hold.

More specifically, you should share the current traction your business plan has in terms of sales, revenue, or financial performance. If you’ve hit a few milestones or have future goals planned, share those too. Instill confidence in your business by highlighting the strengths of your team. If you have advisors, include them if they will impress your audience.

Examples of Pitch Decks

There are all kinds of pitch decks out there – B2B, B2C, and fundraising decks. What do they all have in common? The audience is at the center of the conversation and the presentation focuses on the benefits they receive from the business. Here are a few great examples of what you can expect in pitch decks.

B2B Slide Deck

Shopify created this pitch deck to convince small- and medium-sized businesses to use their cloud platform for e-commerce and other transactions. This slide deck highlights the benefits their product can bring to the business, how their model competes among competitors, and the success they’ve had with past partners. Their financial analysis consistently states their growth and how the buying business will benefit from the investment.

B2C Slide Deck

This short and sweet pitch deck from Copper Cow Coffee hits on the most important points of the business while centering the consumer’s drinking experience. It highlights the coffee’s origins, how to create the perfect brew, and where consumers can obtain the product. The slides are simple but contain all the information a potential customer (or investor) would like to know in a quick pitch.

Fundraising Slide Deck

When you’re asking for money and explaining why your company is worth the investment, take a look at the pitch Front gave to their investors. Their slides cover the basics of their business, value propositions and differentiation, industry outlooks and data, and how the business is positioned to perform. In the end, their goals spell out for investors what they can expect their money to go towards.

While these steps and details look like a lot, each aspect is an invaluable contribution to the success of your pitch deck. Depending on the type of pitch you’re planning to give, the level of detail to include might vary.

In most cases, keep your pitch around 4 to 5 minutes. If you’re pitching to investors, you’ll probably want to give them more information upfront to create trust so it might sit around 10-12 minutes. In either case, leave enough time to answer questions.

Chances are your pitch will undergo many different revisions and updates. Get what you need on your slides, and don’t be afraid to let the deck develop organically from there. You can also repurpose your deck and adjust it for new audiences or different financials.

Pitching a business you’ve dedicated a lot of time and energy towards can feel very intimidating. You don’t have to do it alone! I love creating beautiful and effective slide decks for all kinds of businesses and needs. If you have the pitching skills (but need a little help in the graphic design area), I’m here to help! Book a free consultation with me to get started on creating your one-of-a-kind pitch deck!