Really effective pitch decks are like great CVs. They won’t get you the job, but they might get you through the front door, into the board room and onto the agenda. They do this by making the reader want to find out more.
Every investment is different. That means there’s no simple template or formula that you can copy. Don’t believe people who tell you there is! But at Benjamin Ball Associates we have uncovered the seven secrets shared by all the best investor pitch decks.
We’ve pulled these secrets from the 50 years’ combined experience of the team at Benjamin Ball Associates. Our investment pitch specialists have reviewed thousands of investor pitch decks, and we know that small changes make a big difference. Incorporating these seven secrets can make the difference between getting relegated to the ‘no’ pile, or having an investor take the next step to investing with you.
As well as learning about the seven secrets, find out how you can get a discounted audit of your current pitch deck.
Investors are selfish. Your product may well change the world, but the investor is primarily thinking about their own risk and reward. This means that when they listen to you, they are subconsciously asking the question: ‘what does this mean for me’?
The best pitch decks present everything in an investor-first context.
Grab and hold their attention by using the language of investment and focusing on the things that matter most to prospective investors.
Investors don’t put their cash into opportunities they don’t understand.
If you present a concept in a difficult or complicated way, the mental exertion feels painful or makes them uneasy. Investors associate this with a negative gut instinct about you or your opportunity. That road leads to a ‘no’.
Instead, make the investment proposition easy to grasp.
Clarity and ease of mental digestion feels good – That means investors will associate positive feelings with you and your opportunity.
So how do you transform a complex business into a simple pitch?
When Steve Jobs was trying in 1990 to explain the impact that computers would have on the world, he spoke about bicycles. He described how humans are inefficient movers compared to many other animals on the planet. A human on a bicycle, though, can move even more efficiently than a condor. And a computer is like a bicycle for the human mind.
This analogy used a familiar concept (bicycles) to make an unfamiliar concept (computers in 1990) relatable. Analogies are one of several tools that help communicate complex ideas more effectively. Others are metaphors, similes and stories. No matter how complicated or abstract your product is, there is a way of presenting it in a simple, visual and engaging way.
We find management is frequently too close to their business to uncover the red thread that needs to run through their pitch to make it exciting for investors. That’s where we help them discover their red thread and turn in into a seam of gold.
What is the secret sauce that drives your success? Perhaps it’s your team, your IP, your connections or your track record?
The best investor pitch decks focus relentlessly on their unique advantage.
They demonstrate why it will contribute to the business’s success and how the team will leverage it.
One of our clients, a London-based block chain developer, used this idea to their advantage.
Their original pitch had confused what they had done, the market, their technology, their products and the potential of the business. In all, it was unclear what the business did and why investors should be excited.
We helped them identify the red thread and then turn it into a few clear messages that ran through the pitch. The result was a compelling investment story that has taken them to the next level.
If your pitch deck looks as boring as everyone else’s, then investors will not get excited about meeting you.
The best investor pitch decks are easy to read. They grab interest from the start, avoid jargon and use engaging language. They arouse interest through compelling headlines.
Investors should be able to flick through your pitch deck and understand your key points just from reading your slide headings. But those headings should also be different and intriguing enough that investors want to find out more.
For example, instead of naming one of your slides ‘About Us’ or ‘Our Team’, choose a headline that reinforces your key message.
If your pitch is about establishing a new festival, your headline for the team section of your deck could be ‘Ten Years’ Combined Experience of Running Profitable Events’. If you manufacture widgets that draw on your experience working with the inventor of the leading vacuum cleaner, your headline could be ‘James Dyson’s Protégé’.
Finally, the best decks are often professionally designed with plenty of white space and relevant visuals. Don’t let amateur design work let you down.
Stories are an incredibly effective way to bypass investors’ heads and reach straight for their hearts.
Instead of delivering plain facts (which are quickly forgotten), provide them within the context of a story.
Perhaps your product is a small security device that alerts friends and family when you need help. You could focus on the software behind the invention. You could talk about how easy it is to set up. You can list the features and benefits.
Or you could share what it’s like to feel safe and connected. You could show a video of someone whose life was saved, and how he or she felt when help came running – thanks to your device.
When you trigger the reader’s emotions, they become invested in your pitch deck and in you. Your pitch becomes memorable and shareable. The Economist Magazine says: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The best investor pitch decks are from teams who don’t pretend to be perfect. They admit their mistakes, but also what they’ve learnt from them. They don’t hide their strategy changes, but instead share why and how they changed their approach, and the impact this has had. They have the confidence and self-awareness to be honest. As a result, investors see them as being trustworthy and having integrity and credibility.
Investors know there’s no perfect opportunity, there’s no perfect team, there’s no risk-free reward. So they are – rightly – wary of pitch decks that claim to offer any of these.
Equally, if it appears that you’re trying to hide or mislead them, the investor will start to question everything else about you. To avoid this, be explicit about the data backing up your track record and the methodology used for your forecasts.
Address doubts instead of creating them.
Instead of describing how your product works, embed (or link to) a short film or screen-capture showing how it works.
Instead of stating that your product changes people’s lives, include screenshots of customer reviews in which people say they will never be the same again.
You could say that your product or service is different, but it’s much more powerful to show it, with mock-ups, testimonials and clippings from your industry’s trade press.
A few years ago we helped a diamond mining company raise money from investors in London. To back up the powerful pitch deck that we helped them create, we suggested they bring a raw diamond into their meeting.
Why? Firstly, few investors will have ever handled a raw diamond. Secondly, it allowed the management team to bring the business to life with stories:
This one small prop transformed the quality of their pitch and made it much easier for the team to raise the money they needed to expand the business.
Using these proven techniques, Benjamin Ball Associates have helped clients to impress investors and secure funding for over 10 years. Our team includes former corporate financiers, fund managers and financial PR experts.
We give practical, easy-to-implement advice that will help you to grab investors’ attention, impress them and get you invited in for that vital face-to-face pitch. Then, ahead of the pitch meeting, we help you rehearse the meeting so that you come across as just the right team to help the investors achieve their investment objectives.
We do this every day for start-ups, quoted companies and private equity firms.
Start with an audit of your current investor pitch deck. Our team will review your deck, run it through the BBA Investor Pitch Audit and then talk you through, step by step, what you need to do to improve your pitch. We’ll do this for just £399 inc. VAT.
Call Louise on +44 (0)20 7018 0922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book time with one of our experts. quoting ‘Discounted Pitch Deck Audit’.
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