Never, ever underestimate the power of the pitch deck—it might just swing the deal and open the door to the kind of funding a startup needs to go seriously level-up. Take Airbnb as an example. In 2009, founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk were able to raise $600 thousand dollars from Sequoia Capital and Y Ventures by using their 14-slide deck presentation. Now the company is worth $25.5 billion (2015).
So how can a startup company create a slide deck that will convince potential investors to provide funding?
An effective slide deck must showcase the company's business plan and startup vision, and this can only be done if the presentation contains these eight must-haves: a great one-liner, a problem and a solution, social proof, a product demo, key milestones, market players, team players—and software that will help create the perfect pitch deck in the shortest amount of time. Although presentation structures are obviously different for each company, these elements are present in most, if not all, successful startup pitch presentations.
That said, it is undeniably hard to find the best presentation tool because there are hundreds of them on the market today. Some tools have a complicated interface that has different toggles and settings to choose from. The best kind of software has a simple interface that allows users to edit and design their presentations in the easiest and quickest way possible. It must also have the following fundamental functions:
- A text editor to add content to the presentation;
- an import function to insert other elements of the presentation, such as images, graphs, and charts; and
- a slideshow mode to present the content in a visually pleasing and consistently formatted way.
Here are five of the best:
Slidebean is an online presentation tool. It has an array of ready-made templates that allows the user to create formatted and well-designed slides with just a few clicks. After creating a new presentation, the user can input contents in each slide by going to the Content tab on the top of the page. Aside from the heading and text, the user can also add images, videos, charts, tables, and codes to each slide.
The Design tab, meanwhile, allows the user to change the style, color scheme, and font on each slide. All of these design functions are conveniently placed in the sidebar, which scrolls down with the page as the user moves from slide to slide.
The simple interface of Slidebean makes it easy to use without sacrificing customization, which is why it is one of the best presentation tools to use, especially for a startup pitch deck.
2. Apple Keynote
Keynote is Apple's version of the Microsoft PowerPoint, although the former does have better features, including a simpler interface and a smart guide. It also offers professional-looking templates that can be used for business proposals, like pitch decks. Just like Slidebean, Keynote also has a wide range of customization options, both in format and animation. Plus, it has a rich set of export options so that users can add online videos from YouTube and other services without any hiccups.
However, the biggest drawback of the Apple Keynote is that it isn't as easy to learn as the other presentation tools on this list. It may take a while to get on top of all the functions that are integrated into the software.
Canva has a simple interface that even beginners can grasp, and a range of available templates that can be used with customizable canvasses. After choosing the design, the user can build onto each slide by using the options on the Layouts and Background tabs. What's more impressive about Canva is that it is tightly integrated with a stock photo image bank, so the user can quickly find a picture. (Uploading a picture is an option, too.)
With Canva, the company can also create infographics, documents, cards, and social media widgets, a feature that is not present in the other presentation tools on this list.
Nice and clean—this is what Slides is all about. Beginning with the interface, the grid system of Slides makes it easier to look at each slide more clearly. It also allows the user to see the flow of the presentation, which means that adjustments can be made faster.
Aside from its simple interface and fundamental functions, Slides also has a speaker view mode that allows the user to see the following slide. Notes can also be seen in this mode, as well as a timer that will help the user maintain the pace of the presentation.
5. Haiku Deck
Haiku Deck has five free themes to choose from. (There are 11 more themes that can be bought at $2 each or $15 for an entire pack.) The free options may seem restrictive, but Haiku Deck designed each of these themes to look elegant and professional. Just like Canva, Haiku Deck also has a rich photo stock library, with over 35 million images available to users. Images from the local hard drive can also be added to the slides, as well as graphs and charts to showcase important statistics.
In hindsight, the restrictive design of Haiku Deck will prevent users from over-embellishing their pitch presentations and possibly making poor design decisions. Haiku Deck's straightforward functions also make it easy for beginners and new users to learn the ins and outs of the tool.
It follows by implication that software isn't enough to make a slide deck great; All the elements must work together to make the final presentation more than the sum of its parts. To learn more, check out How to Create a Great Pitch Deck.