Seven Secrets of the Best Investor Pitch Decks
June 19, 2018
Are you looking for start-up funding, scale-up funding or new financing for your business? If so, you need to invest in creating the best investor pitch deck your prospective investor has seen.
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 for your investor pitch. Don’t believe people who tell you there is!
We’ve pulled these seven 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.
Seven secrets of the best investor pitch decks
- Sell the investment, not the product
- Keep it simple
- Be clear what makes you special
- Don’t be boring
- Appeal to the heart AND the head
- Be honest
- Show, don’t tell
Best investor pitch decks secret #1: Sell the investment, not the product
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.
- So instead of slides that talk about your plans and ambitions, frame the information in terms of how those plans and ambitions will impact the investor’s returns.
- Instead of listing your team’s background, demonstrate how that background makes you a safe pair of hands for investment.
- Got great sales forecasts? Show how those forecasts will translate into rewards for investors.
Grab and hold their attention by using the language of investment and focusing on the things that matter most to prospective investors. Read how to create a great pitch document.
Best investor pitch decks secret #2: Keep it simple
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.
Best investor pitch decks secret #3: Be clear what makes you special
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.
Learn how to create a powerful equity story.
Best investor pitch decks secret #4: Don’t be boring
- Crowded slides?
- Long blocks of text?
- Lists of bullet points?
- Bland headings?
- Weak design?
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.
Best investor pitch decks secret #5: Appeal to the heart as well as the head
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.
- Identify the problem (the ‘villain’ of your story) and then
- Introduce your solution (the ‘hero’ of your story).
- Show what happens after the hero takes action, and
- Lay out the consequences of that action (or the consequences if that action doesn’t happen).
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.”
Best investor pitch decks secret #6: Be honest
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.
Best investor pitch decks secret #7: Show, don’t tell
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:
How often a diamond of that size was found,
How many tons of rock they had to move to find that diamond,
At what depth they found it, and
What they did about safely and security.
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.
Transform your investor pitch deck
Call us, you’ll get 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. You’ll benefit from our 15+ years experience transforming pitch decks. 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.
Call Louise today on +44 (0)20 7018 0922 or email email@example.com to discuss how we can best help you.
About Benjamin Ball Associates
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help clients to communicate better.
Over 12+ years the award-winning BBA team has improved hundreds of investor pitches globally. You get access to a transformational toolbox of techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.
We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your investors immediately and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.
Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and discuss your investor pitch.
Contact us for a chat about how Benjamin Ball Associates can help you.
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