Buyer , Startups — 10.25.2022

How to Confidently Craft and Deliver Your Pitch Deck

Lauren Shomaker, Product Marketer

pitch deck image

Pitching your product is hard. Investors are far more selective than ever before. For founders, there’s more pressure for you to have the best product and convince investors that your product is worth the risk. 

Even if you have the best solution, you need an exceptional pitch to get investors on board. Despite the quality of your product, if you can’t convince investors to buy into the problem you’re solving and the uniqueness of your solution, the money won’t come. 

A good pitch deck can open doors to new opportunities. The quality and structure of your pitch deck are critical to help investors understand your product. 

Find out how to build a pitch deck that leverages storytelling to establish your credibility.

Structure is Critical.

When you’re building a pitch deck, you’re telling a story — not one that’s full of fluff and devoid of important financials. Rather, your story should share information in a way that’s enticing and inspiring to your audience. 

Here’s an outline of what your deck’s narrative should look like. 

  • Set up the problem.
  • Introduce your solution.
  • Outline how it works.
  • Highlight differentiators
  • Emphasize market opportunity. 
  • Detail your timeline and goals
  • Show off your team
  • Clearly state your ask
  • Appendix

You can modify this structure, but it’s a great starting point. The problem, solution, how it works, and differentiators sections are especially important to tell a compelling story.

Set up the Problem.

Revealing your problem, defining your solution and explaining how your product works helps you tell your story seamlessly. 

Begin with the problem, not the solution. This is a common pitfall for founders pitching their product. While you’re excited about your product, you first need to convince your audience that your problem is worth solving. Otherwise, they won’t see the real value of your solution.

You need to convince investors:

  • The problem you’re solving exists.
  • Enough people feel the pain of that problem and are willing to pay for the solution.
  • The problem is something investors should care about.

Include the downfalls of existing solutions to show you’ve done your research to make your product even more appealing. 

Introduce Your Solution.

Use your positioning statement to introduce your solution — keep it concise. Clearly state why your product is the answer your audience is looking for and investors should want to support.

Once you’ve captured investors’ attention, you can introduce your solution. Now your product looks like the hero.

Outline How it Works.

Following the solution, give an overview of how your product works. It’s helpful to describe how your product functions to socialize your product with investors. This overview should be high-level. If you have a product demo, save it for the end to avoid overwhelming your audience before they’ve had time to digest your product’s value. 

Highlight differentiators.

Next, explain your differentiators or competitive advantage. Even if your product is similar to an existing one, your differentiators illustrate the uniqueness of your product.

Market opportunity, timeline and team can be presented in any order, but they are all necessary. Other items can be stored in the appendix. This houses slides like mission, vision, business and financial models, valuation, exit strategy and income statement.

Remember, you may not have enough time to cover every detail. If you focus on telling a compelling story and making your investors care, they’ll ask to see the rest even if you don’t get to it in the initial conversation.

Establish Your Credibility.

Building a structured pitch deck is the first step in the process. But confidently delivering your pitch is key to success. In a pitch deck, details are crucial to investors. These details make a lasting impression. 

Intentionality in your pitch deck:

  • Establishes yourself as a credible founder.
  • Proves you’ve done the work.
  • Affirms you’re worth the investor’s time.

Investors invest in founders they trust. You can build trust through the quality of your pitch.

To establish credibility through your pitch deck: 

  • Know your audience.
  • Be specific.
  • Sell them on you.

Know your audience. 

Yes, they’re investors. But are you pitching to a group that’s familiar with the problem you’re trying to solve? With your industry? Knowing the answers to these questions is critical because it informs the level of detail you have in your deck and talk track.

If you’re speaking to a group of investors that have been in the same industry as you for more than 20 years, you don’t need to spend as much time educating them about the problem. You can use more industry jargon (within reason). Your product overview slides can include information that goes a level deeper. 

But if your audience is a melting pot of industry backgrounds, it would be appropriate for your pitch deck to include more education on the industry and the problem at hand. You likely wouldn’t use industry jargon. Your visuals and product overview should be more high-level. 

You don’t have to start every presentation from scratch, but your pitch should be uniquely crafted to each audience. 

Be specific. 

Your product started with an idea like no other. Your pitch deck is where you show the thought and research behind your idea. This requires you to be specific about your product category, target audience, offerings and benefits.

To maximize your chance at an investment:

  • Use relevant statistics to support your pitch. Numbers are memorable and can help people conceptualize. Include statistics to show the breadth of the problem and who it impacts most. 
  • Explain the value of each component within your solution. This validates your product and demonstrates your in-depth understanding of how the product will work once it’s in market.
  • Share your timeline, go-to-market (GTM) strategy and exit plan. This shows investors that you know what you’re doing, and you know what it takes to reach your goals.
  • End your pitch with a clear and deliberate ask. “We need money” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, say something like, “we’re seeking investments to reach $X so that we can [insert how you plan to spend the money].” As a bonus, use graphics to visually outline where investments would be deployed.

Following these steps will make investors more likely to trust you with their investment because they have a clear understanding of your credibility and deployment plan.

While specifics can be difficult to define, it’s best to claim your niche market upfront. If you say you can serve everyone, investors will immediately doubt your product-market fit and question your product research. Avoid broad claims. When thousands of others say their product does the same thing as yours, your product loses credibility and value. 

Sell them on you.

Self-promotion won’t check all credibility boxes, but it’s important to share why you’re the founder that their money should go to. A startup will not succeed with a founder that lacks motivation, realistic goals and discipline. 

When asked, “why should we choose you?” answer the following questions:

  • What business or industry experience do you have?
  • What experience does your team have?
  • Have you felt the pains of your audience?
  • Have you had any exits before? 
  • How will your previous success translate to your new product and business model? 
  • Do you have strong relationships with your co-founders, advisors or board?

You shouldn’t rely on your personality to sell your product, but who you are contributes to the impression you make on investors. Be yourself. After all, this is your product.

The best strategy is to structure your pitch deck with tangible proof points and deliver with emotion and confidence to support your vision.

As the founder, you’re responsible for your product’s success. While the pitch deck is only one piece of the product strategy, don’t take it for granted. A pitch deck can determine if your product is ever brought to life, so invest the time and energy to perfect it. 

Learn how our product marketing team can help you craft your story and deliver it with confidence.