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The Art of the Pitch (Part 2)

Designing a great pitch deck

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

A well-designed pitch deck enhances your story, creates images in the minds of your listeners and makes it easier for them to grasp what you are talking about.

Following my previous write up on “How to pitch”, I will share a few pieces of advice I give to companies on how to design a great deck.

Things to note:

  • One idea per slide. Please repeat, One idea per slide. Don’t put different pieces of information on one slide. If you are talking about the problem, do that on a slide, when you talk about the solution, do that on a different slide.
  • Use pictures rather than words where possible. Work with images, icons, diagrams to represent what you would have said in words
  • Minimize the number of words on a slide. More than 7 words on a slide is too many, you want people to follow what you are saying and not get distracted by the excessive texts on your slide
  • When using bullet points, animate them so they come in one after the other. That way, you can explain one before moving to the other.
  • Use a common font, that is generally available on most computers, that way if your slide is displayed on a different computer it doesn’t mess it up.
  • Make sure the fonts are large enough and use primary colours, they are easy to read.
  • Put important text at the top of your slide not the bottom. That way it’s easier for people to read even if they are seated at the back.
  • Avoid jargons.
  • Avoid complicated graphs. The purpose of graphs is to make displayed information simple to understand not the other way around. Except your goal is to confuse the audience.
  • Place your logo on every slide. Tip: by placing it on the master page, it appears on all other pages.
  • White background is bae; colours, images, texts and graphs appear better on a white background.And lastly remember to practice, practice, practice and after you have practiced, practice some more.

Bonus Point- let the most compelling speaker on the team pitch, it doesn’t have to be the CEO.

Categories
VP Blog

The Art of the Pitch

By Oyewole Kayode

Photo credit: Unsplash

Start with a bang, End with a Bang.

Pitching is one of the most important jobs of any founder. At any given time, you are always pitching. Pitching to potential employees on why they should join your company and not the bank that will pay 3x your offer. Pitching partners on- why they should work with you and accept your (sometimes) shitty terms, pitching customers on why they should go with your product/service and not that of your competitor who just raised a large round and is been run by Ex-MIT grads and most obvious — pitching to Investors.

I am going to focus more on the latter but the points I would mention would probably apply to others.

At Ventures Platform where I spend most of my time advising and working with early stage companies, we have a demo day at end of our acceleration programme — Startups come to pitch to a room full of investors and media in hopes of raising follow on Capital. It’s an avenue for companies to convince investors of the importance of what they are doing, how big it can become, and why investors need to write cheques for them.

This is a fragment of the advice I give to the companies on “How to Pitch”

A great pitch is like jollof, well-cooked Nigerian Jollof, enjoyable from start to finish. Here are a few points to note when pitching:

  1. Clarity — the pitch must be clear and simple to understand. No buzzwords, it should be short and concise, as attention span can be short and after a while you lose your audience to their phones.
  2. Exciting– it should be fun and captivating so it’s easier for listeners to pay attention.
  3. Informative –give the investors all the necessary information to get them excited and curious. Make sure to include your numbers, the problem and how you’re solving it.
  4. Memorable — the investors must be able to recall who you are and what you do. One way to do this is by storytelling.

Most listeners cannot recall everything you said in your pitch, they would probably remember 2–4 things at the most, so when preparing you should ask yourself what are the 2–4 key things I want people to remember about my pitch? This is called the backbone/vertebrae of your pitch.

There are a few questions to ask when deciding what your backbone is:

  • What are you building and for whom?
  • Why hasn’t this been done before?
  • How much progress have we made doing this?
  • Why is it hard to do what you are doing?
  • Why is this an opportunity not to be missed?

A few general things to note:

. Speak slowly and enunciate. Be slow enough for people to get what you are saying but not too slow that people think you are stupid

. Be excited about what you are pitching, if you are not excited, don’t expect others to be.

. Keep it short and concise. A good speech is like a mini skirt, short enough to arouse attention but long enough to cover the subject.

. Be specific. No one is interested in “something between 10 and 50”. There are too many possibilities between both numbers.

. Show confidence by keeping eye contact (quick hack: if it’s a room full of investors, look above their heads, no one can tell the difference) and avoid generic phrases as transitions e.g. so.

. Avoid filler words as much as possible e.g. Ermm, you know, like

. Be authentic, don’t form, be as natural as you can

. Finally, Practice, practice, practice and after you have practiced, practice some more. This was our slogan during pitch practices.

Remember to start with a bang and end with a bang, people usually pay attention to the beginning and end of a pitch.

In subsequent post I am going to continue this line of thought and share how to approach creating a pitch deck.

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Are you building something interesting in and/or for Africa? Let us know here.


Originally published at Ventures Platform.