A presentation outline is a roadmap to a more successful business pitch — a general plan that summarizes what you want to say to prospective customers, clients or investors. It lets you organize your thoughts, group ideas into main points and present your material logically. But what should you include in your slides?
We've compiled 11 tips for more effective pitch prep.
If you came here looking for presentation templates, here's a excerpt of our most popular ones. If not, just carry on.
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1. Decide on a Goal
Before you brainstorm, and before you scribble down any notes, come up with a goal for your presentation. What do you want your pitch deck to say to your audience? What message do you want to convey? What do you want it to achieve?
Perhaps you want your pitch to raise seed funds. Maybe you want to introduce a new product or service to customers. Whatever the reason for creating your pitch, decide on a specific, measurable goal. This will guide the rest of your preparation.
2. Create a Structure for Your Presentation
Every good presentation includes an introduction, main body, and conclusion. These three components form the "skeleton" of your presentation — the bare bones of your pitch. You don't need to think about all the small details at this stage — you can flesh out your presentation slides at a later date.
Your introduction is probably the most important part of your pitch. After all, you only have seven seconds to make a good first impression, according to research. Use your intro to introduce your brand, greet your audience and give a taster of what's to come.
The body of your presentation includes your main ideas and any supporting ideas. Use it to feature testimonials, financials and fundraising info, traction and milestones, and, of course, your marketing plan.
Finally, your conclusion summarizes all your points in a few slides. This should leave your audience wanting more.
3. Think About Visual Content
Visual content is an essential ingredient. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than regular text, so including images in your pitch is a great idea. Don't forget about videos, either. Consumers are 64 percent more likely to purchase a product after watching an online video, making visual content a good choice if you want to generate leads and boost sign-ups.
The most successful pitch decks incorporate striking visuals. Others have fancy fonts and graphics. All of this visual content demands attention from your audience and creates a cool aesthetic that will help you outrank your rivals.
At this early stage of pitch deck preparation, you don't have to finalize the images you are going to include in your pitch. However, we think it's a good idea to point out where you are going to use images in your presentation. This way, you can organize your ideas and make sure everything flows properly.
4. Understand What Makes a Good Presentation — and a Bad One
No two presentations are the same. The most successful pitch decks, however, certainly have a lot in common. When creating your outline, discover what makes a brilliant pitch. The University of Hawaii says great presentations rarely cover more than five points. The University of Cambridge in England says there should be four key points in every 45-minute presentation.
Here at Slidebean, we think one idea per slide, good design, lots of images, and quotes all make presentations so much more interesting. We're not fans of the 'thank you' slide, though — the one that recognizes your audience for sitting through your presentation. It's completely unnecessary.
5. Include a Call-to-Action
A call-to-action is much better than a 'thank you' slide. This encourages your audience to take action after your presentation. When creating your outline, think of a short, snappy call-to-action that prompts a response. A call-to-action is your final chance to engage with your audience during your presentation. You might want to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list, for example. Alternatively, you can include a link to your website so people can download a trial version of your product.
"No matter what form your CTA takes, the most important aspect is the copy," says growth marketing expert Sujan Patel and Voila Norbert co-founder, writing for Forbes magazine. "You’re telling the visitor what you want them to do, so it needs to be persuasive. Remember, your audience is looking for an answer or a solution to a problem. Connect with them by telling them exactly what they’re going to get if they take action."
6. Identify a Solution to a Problem
Every day, more than 30 million presentations are created on PowerPoint alone. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of pitches designed in Keynote, Prezi, and Slidebean. With so many presentations out there, how do you inspire people to invest in your services? One way to create a successful pitch is to identify a solution to a problem that your audience might have.
Slidebean recently reviewed some of the best presentation examples from successful startups. Most of them provide solutions to common problems early on in their respective pitches. Customer messaging platform Intercom, for example, says analytics, customer base browsing, and customer research is the answer for businesses who find it hard to engage with customers. They include these solutions near the beginning of their pitch deck.
If you want to have a more successful presentation, think about solving problems in your niche when creating your outline.
7. Use Quotes, Testimonials and Statistics
Quotes from senior management help you convey abstract ideas and make your presentation more engaging. You should obtain any quotes you want to use in your presentation during the planning stage. Testimonials from customers and clients also prove popular. Research shows that positive reviews influence purchasing decisions and increase trust.
Finally, statistics add some depth to your presentation. Industry facts and figures back up any claims you make and increase engagement. Discover relevant statistics when creating your outline. You don't need to include any actual quotes, testimonials or statistics yet. Just jot down where you want to place them in your presentation.
8. Think About Color and Design
The way you present information in your pitch is just as important as the information itself. Now is the time to start thinking about the font/s you want to use or the color of your slides. Research shows that red conveys passion and excitement and catches the attention of your audience. White, on the other hand, conveys simplicity and purity.
Slidebean has a range of color palettes that transform the look of your slides. You can choose up to three color sets and play around with different text, backgrounds, and highlights.
9. Plan the Order of Your Slides
Think of your presentation outline template as a very rough first draft. Decide on what types of slides you want to use, and decide on a final running order. You might feature quotes early on in your presentation, for example, and leave testimonials until the end. Don't forget to include a slide with your contact details — website, phone number, address, etc. — and your brand values.
Your presentation outline should be a group effort, too. Ask your colleagues for input.
10. Identify Key Takeaways From Your Presentation
Your outline should include enough information so you can visualize what your final presentation will look like. Once you have finished your outline, read it back and identify the key takeaways from the document. Is the structure of your presentation clear, for example? Does it convey your brand message? Will it engage your audience?
Every slide in your presentation should achieve the goal you created at the beginning of your outline. If something isn't working, make changes. You might want to switch slides around or remove unnecessary information, for example.
11. Use a Template
Once you have completed your outline, it's time to start putting everything together. Yes, you could create a PowerPoint pitch deck from scratch, but this is often time-consuming and complicated. Instead, use a template, which provides you with all the presentation slides you need.
Here at Slidebean, we have templates for companies of all sizes, including startups and scaleups. You can create a professional pitch deck in just a few minutes by following the on-screen prompts. Everything's included — bullet points, graphics, headers, footers, and more. Take the time to plan your pitch to produce a powerful sales document that helps you communicate with your audience.
Once you have created your presentation outline template, sign up to Slidebean and design a pitch that provides you with a huge return on your investment.