How to Prepare The Best Pitch Deck for Investors in 2024

Do you have the best pitch deck?  Could you improve your pitch deck? Are you ready for a winning investor pitch?

When tennis champion Roger Federer walks on to Centre Court, he doesn’t know the speed, angle or direction his opponent will serve, volley or return.

Yes, he can research who he’s playing and observe that person in previous matches. But he cannot predict what they will do. This is the opposite of a professional wrestling match, where every move is pre-determined. The two sports require dramatically different preparation.

Professional wrestlers plan, rehearse and fine-tune. Tennis players, however, need to prepare for the unpredictable.

Preparing a top investor pitch deck for your business or fund is like tennis. There is no one winning formula.

How to create the best pitch deck for investors? Prepare for the unpredictable

Investors will slam tough questions over the net that you need to return with a poised volley. It can be intimidating. Many of our clients have told us that answering investor questions is the part they dread most. It is, however, essential to the investment process. After all, any investor pitch suffers from information asymmetry – one party knows a lot more about the deal than the other.

Successful investor pitch decks come in all shapes and sizes.  But underpinning all of them are a few basic truths.

We’ve been creating and polishing winning investor pitch decks for 15 years and over that time have learned what makes the difference between the just good enough and the great.  And while investors are becoming more selective, it is more important than ever to create great pitch decks and give winning investor pitches.

This advice combines what our coaches say and what we have heard from investors on panels we have chaired at SuperReturn conferences.

Check your own investor pitch deck against our essential tests. Here you will learn what makes a good pitch deck and how to impress investors

 

1. Do not even think of opening PowerPoint yet

PowerPoint is the worst tool for preparing the best pitch decks. While it can be great for displaying information, it will not help you plan your investor pitch or write a powerful pitch deck.

Instead, you want to start your investor pitch from basics. Get your messaging right. Analyse your investor audience and understand what they need. And you need to have a powerful investor narrative running through your pitch deck.

We can help you with all this. Our Messaging Cracker Process is the bedrock upon which all the best pitch decks are built.  

2. Summarise your investment story in one line

A great elevator pitch shows that you understand what is important in your business and that you are good at getting to the heart of the matter.

Creating a simple one line that summaries your investment proposition is the hard part of creating a powerful investor pitch deck. But if you start the process of creating your investor pitch with a clear one line investment proposition and then a few investment sub-messages to back that up, you will be much more successful.

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3. The best pitch decks always keep it brief

Investors tell us they crave brevity. They don’t want to be taken though your 150-slide deck.

They’re looking for a 1-minute overview, a 3-minute overview and a 20-minute high level overview followed by discussion. Saying less, in a memorable, engaging and succinct way, is better than blasting investors with too much detail.

Get across the heart of your strategy in three points, each backed up with evidence. Show your strategy in action, through stories about the impact you delivered. Finally, don’t build up to a big reveal on slide 48. You may never get to it.

Takeaway: Write out everything that you want to say, then hack it right back. Edit ruthlessly until you are left with a compelling investment narrative, backed by evidence.

The rules of brevity apply to your pitch deck.  The shorter, simpler and clearer your pitch deck, the more powerful it is.

4. A winning investor presentation deck gets a clear story across

Your business is complicated and your market is ever changing.  You could probably spend hours just describing one aspect of your business.  But for an outsider – an investor – complexity is a problem.  Because, if an investment sounds complicated, it is off-putting.  We all know the old investor adage:  “only invest in businesses you understand”.

So, it’s your job to make your investment story easy.   We’ve seen great results for our clients just by simplifying their equity stories and simplifying their pitch decks.

For example, after a recent Capital Markets Day coaching session we saw 7% added to the share price of a £1bn chemicals business.  This was after we stripped back their CMD messages and simplified the investor presentation.  The result was a series of analyst notes that all reinforced what the company wanted to say.  That’s $70m of value created just through a simple investor presentation deck.

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5. Explain the problem you are solving in your investor pitch

Every business solves a problem. Starbucks, Amazon, Google, Warren Buffett – all started with a problem in mind.

Whether you are raising money for a new Venture Capital fund, if you are growing a business that sells products to consumers, or if you are selling a B2B business, the clearer that you can articulate the reason that your business exists and why people buy from you, the easier it is to write a compelling investor presentation.

For example, can you explain why people are buying from you?  So many people forget the most important part of a good pitch is a real understanding of your customers.

  • Who are they?
  • Why do they buy from you?
  • How do you reach them?
  • What options do they have?
  • Why is your pricing right?
  • How do you stand out from the competition?
  • Who are not your customers?

The better you can answer these simple questions about your business and your customers, the stronger your investor pitch deck will be.

6. Explain how you make money in your investor presentation

How does the money flow through the business? Where does it come in? Where does it go out?

What makes sure you have a growing income stream and that you can defend your business from competitors. If your pitch deck teaches investors about your business and what makes it successful, you’ll be more likely to impress them.

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6. Demonstrate what you have achieved so far: your progress and traction

Ideas are all very well, but what counts is how you make it work.

Success to date is a good way to test the quality of management. Your investor pitch deck should emphasis this. Whether you use stories, KPIs or customer testimonials will depend on your business.

But what’s important is that you can demonstrate to your investors that you understand what you have achieved and how this success will continue going forward.  That’s what all the best pitch decks have.

7. Describe the competition and how you are different in your pitch deck

A healthy respect for the competition, and an understanding of both direct competitors and substitutes shows that you have your feet on the ground.

We use a number of models in the investor pitch decks we create that help people better grasp the market, market dynamics and why your business stands out against the competition.

8. Better investor presentations explain what makes you special

“For us it has to be very clear what exactly you do to create value,” said Marc der Kinderen. “What’s the return driver? What is your ‘trick’ that you can do repeatedly? We’re looking for groups that can explain to us what they are very good at, and go into case studies. Then our team can sit together and compare notes in a systematic way.”

Investors tell us that many propositions look the same. Naturally, they all forecast promising returns. But as past performance is no guarantee of future returns, even business with strong histories of market-beating growth need to demonstrate more than a good track record.

  • What does your team do differently?
  • What is your repeatable ‘trick’?
  • How will you consistently drive above-average performance?

Takeaway: Your best pitch deck needs to convince investors that your team and your business or fund are more attractive and transactable than the alternatives. What is your unique difference and how does it fit with what the investors are trying to achieve?

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9. Great pitch decks showcase your team

Investors may be used to seeing the CEO, CFO and Head of IR, but shouldn’t they also get to hear from a wider team?  When investors see the strength and depth of the management team, they feel more confident.

One way to make the whole team look particularly impressive is to create a consistent Red Thread Message and run it through your pitch deck.  And, for larger businesses, you should give those who don’t regularly speak to investors the training and coaching they need to give a great performance.

10. Improve your investor pitch by using stories

Stories are the secret weapon of winning investor pitch decks.  The best meetings use stories extensively.

How do you do that?  Spencer Miller told us, “I want to understand who they are; what the strategy is. Private equity fund teams can bring this to life by using case studies about investments. “Case studies answer questions around competition, market positioning, strategy and value.” When you learn how to tell great business stories you can make a better impact in your investor meetings.

Review other examples of great pitch decks to see how successful pitch decks use stories to get their messages across.

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11. Show you understand what is difficult

Some people are consistently successful – based on what they say in their pitch decks. Bad deals are excised from track records, performance is adjusted in infinitely creative ways) and simple questions receive vague, elusive answers. Several investors told us they’ve terminated pitches immediately after encountering the above tactics.

Your investor pitch deck is the start of what will hopefully become a long-term relationship. That requires mutual trust, which can only come from transparency and honesty.

Describe the risks, and what you are doing to address them.  In a winning investor presentation you share the challenges facing your business and have an honest discussion about the industry.  In this way, the investor sees a business that understands its weaknesses as well as its strengths.

That helps build confidence and credibility.

It can feel counter-intuitive to be completely honest and open, but you’ll find that investors will respond well to someone who shows they understand the weaknesses in their business as well as its strong points.

Takeaway: Investors know that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Acknowledge what you haven’t done so well. Talk through what you’ve learned from it or how you’ve changed your strategy as a result.  Then, when you speak about your successes, you’ll have far greater credibility.

12. Think conversation, rather than broadcast

Investors tell us that those who pitch, often ask what the investor wants to cover in a pitch meeting… but then default to their standard spiel anyway. Or investors ask a question, and are told that it will be answered later on in the presentation. More often than not, the question never gets addressed.

Whereas, the best pitches are conversations. In fact, the more interaction the better, as this helps the investors feel engaged and interested.

Takeaway: Think of your pitches as conversations or discussions, rather than formal, one-way broadcasts. Ask questions, act on the answers and respond to questions from investors as and when they arise.

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13. A great investor pitch answers tough questions

Some investors love to ask tough questions.  And they may be asking those questions for different reasons.

For example, they may want to see how you react to an unanswerable question. They may want to show off to their colleagues. They may want to test how you behave under pressure.  Or they may just want a simple answer.

It’s the investor’s job to ask tough questions.  Investors have a duty to peel back the curtain and look behind-the-scenes before reaching a decision, like financial detectives conducting a forensic exam. That’s because the stakes are high. If investors hear a defensive or aggressive response they will get wary. They worry that you’re hiding something, and that the deal could backfire. So how do you prepare for questions you can’t predict?

When you work with us, your coach will pose a tough question and you respond. Your coach asks a second question and you respond, and then your coach gives feedback on your first few answers. You discuss potential stumbling blocks and your coach shares practical advice and insight that helps you shape a clear and coherent path through your thoughts. Your coach puts the first question to you again in a slightly different form, and you give a slightly more concise, confident and persuasive response.

Instead of wincing when you hear a particularly aggressive question, you relax and smile, responding honestly but positively.

14. A great investor pitch builds confidence

Confidence is built slowly and lost quickly.  The efforts you make towards building confidence will help you through tougher times. Your first investor meeting is key.

For example, work on the important things, like never over-promising; listening to investors and showing that you want more from them then just their money.

The relationship between an investor and investee is complex and you want to continually build confidence in you and your business.

“The final thing for me,” said Spencer Miller, “Is that … teams have got to have all the energy, enthusiasm for the meeting as if this is the first meeting of the day – even if it’s the last.” 

How you behave in your investor pitch is important.  Hence our final tip.

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15. Coach your team for success

A great investor presentation is not the same as a great investor pitch deck. You want to be sure that every aspect of your investor meeting pushes your case forward. You want to build a relationship, to excite them and to reassure them. You want everyone on your team to impress.

Investors say one of their key tests is how well the pitching team interacts. Does the team present a united front, or do the individuals contradict, interrupt or ignore each other?

When one person is talking, do the others remain attentive and engaged? Or do they thumb their phone screen or look impatient until it’s their turn to speak? Another warning sign for investors is when only the most senior person speaks. They want to hear from everyone in the room. Otherwise, why are you all there?

Our best clients use extensive role play to prepare for successful investor pitches. We play the part of different investors and help them tell the most compelling story possible. They learn how to handle tough questions and how to impress.

From your pitch deck to the start of the investor meeting to the very end of your pitch meeting, every part of your presentation has a role to play in pushing your investor case forward. Get it right, and pitching to investors is much easier.

Takeaway: Check if you are presenting as a team or a group of individuals. One way to do this is by role-playing different meetings and filming your pitch rehearsals. Analyse your team dynamics and polish your imperfections before investors see you.

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What to do next to get the best pitch deck and best investor pitch

Give Yourself the Best Pitch Deck

We’ll help you pitch confidently, memorably and effectively

We’ll make sure your investor pitch is ripe and ready to impress investors. Our team will strengthen every element of your pitch, including your:

  • Investor proposition
  • Pitch deck
  • Meeting performance
  • Presentation materials and visual aids

Contact us for a free consultation on your coaching needs


About Benjamin Ball Associates

Benjamin Ball Associates  Presentation skills coaching team

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help our clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.

Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of presentation skills & techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.

We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email louise@benjaminball.com to find out more and discuss transforming your speeches, pitches and presentations.

Contact us for a free consultation on your coaching needs

Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

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Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

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