Being a founder is complicated, and one of the toughest challenges doesn't have to do with running your startup. Instead, it's when you have to present to investors. You've finally landed a presentation after grinding through endless calls and emails. You need to be as prepared as possible, and one tool is essential.
The slide deck presentation helps get your point across to investors. In a slide deck presentation, you put the utmost essential information. However, creating one can sometimes feel overwhelming. Founders often have questions such as what goes into a slide deck? What doesn't? This article will cover everything you need to know about slide decks. Plus, where you can find the best slide deck templates.
What is a PowerPoint Slide Deck?
Think about Kleenex or Lysol. You reference any tissue or spray disinfectant by using those names. The same happens with slide decks. For years, founders have used PowerPoint to create slides and present them to investors. So, the term PowerPoint Slide Deck became commonplace.
For example, a PowerPoint slide deck is a set of presentations with a central topic and a specific audience. So, yes, a slide deck can have more than one presentation.
The term PowerPoint slide deck has become commonplace, but all it means is that you're using PowerPoint for your slide deck. Right now, there are many other platforms with which you can create your presentation. So, the proper term should be slide deck, and let's dive more into that.
What's the difference between a PowerPoint and a Slide deck?
The difference between a PowerPoint deck and a Slide deck is that a Powerpoint deck uses PowerPoint to create the slides. A Slide deck can use other software such as Google Drive or this one.
PowerPoint belongs to Microsoft, so it's mainstream. In fact, for years, it dominated the slide deck sector, but things have changed. There are more options to get your point across, with better technology, accessible platforms, and improved designs. After all, a slide deck needs to look good to engage your audience.
Most presentation software is easy to use, but some more than others, yet it can be time-consuming. So, if you don't want the hassle of building your own slide deck, you can use Slidebean's templates. They make it easy and accessible to create them on the spot.
That's the difference between a PowerPoint and a Slide deck. Now, let's talk about the uses a slide deck has.
What types of presentations can you give on a slide deck?
So, what do you use a slide deck for? Slide decks are aids for your presentation. So, they usually have the most important content for you and your audience.
Slide decks can work as reminders for you as you navigate the content of your presentation. They can also guide the audience with essential graphics or data.
You can present an almost infinite variety of topics on a slide deck, but the most common is in the startup world. Its use goes back to the earliest days of Silicon Valley. The legend goes that the term originates from founders reaching out to investors using a projector.
Back then, the projector displayed the information against the wall. Each slide was transparent and contained only a small amount of data.
The presenter had to remove one slide and place another one to change it. So, yes, we've come far, but tradition still remains. You still have to be efficient and straightforward with your slide deck.
One of the most common uses for a slide deck is to explain what a company is. This includes its origins, mission, vision, and future plans. You can also have content such as a financial model or explain a new product.
As we've progressed in how we do business, we've migrated more towards efficiency. So, regardless of the type of presentation that you're giving on a slide deck, you must aim for it to be short. Time is of the essence, both yours and the investors'.
What is the importance of a slide deck?
As we've seen, a slide deck helps the presenter display more information to the audience. After all, it's almost impossible to remember everything that you have to present.
The audience also needs extra cues to maintain attention throughout the presentation. So, a slide deck is essential because it contains information that complements what you're presenting.
Without a slide deck, your audience might lose a bit of track of the presentation. This happens especially when there is a lot of data you could present in graphics and charts.
Slide decks are vital because they also help you with cues. They are aids that help you remember what you're talking about. In addition, a slide deck can set the pace for you and your crucial audience.
Remember that, in most cases, your audience is investors. Telling a story is vital for getting people on board with your company. A slide deck is an essential part of storytelling, but there's a big question that many founders might have. What information do you put in a slide deck? We'll discuss this in the following section
What must a slide deck have?
In the startup world, a slide deck is crucial. It's the tool that will get your investors' attention and funding. So, a slide deck must have information that's vital for them.
As we've mentioned before, it also works as a guide for you, so the information must be perfectly harmonious. Here are some crucial slides that your slide deck must include.
What's your value proposition?
There's a saying that goes: keep it simple, stupid. So this slide is usually very brief. That's what you need. Think about it like this: if you can't tweet what your company does and where it brings value, it's not clear enough. The same applies to the first slide. It should contain your company's value proposition.
To complement this first slide, you can use comparisons between your company and some more prominent names. Again, though, use them with caution. The one thing that will help your first slide stand out is the second slide.
What problem are you solving?
Your startup needs to solve a problem. Otherwise, there's no appeal to it. So your slide should have the problem that you're solving. It should be clear and concise, but in a way that's appealing. Remember that efficiency doesn't mean that you have to push storytelling aside.
In fact, the slide deck becomes a crucial tool in explaining the problem. In addition, you can use graphics and charts to get your point across. So, take full advantage of it when presenting the problem.
What is your solution?
Along with the problem, this slide is one of the most important slides. For every situation, there's a solution, and your startup might be the one to do so. So, take full advantage of your slide deck and include the solution in it.
Investors want to know how you're going to solve the problem. Also, they want to understand that solution. So, this slide must be clear, easy to understand, and appealing. You're coming to fix a problem, and the slide deck improves the challenge of reaching investors for you.
What is your strategy going forward?
There are many vital elements that you must include in your slide deck. One of them is what you see as your path in the future. Of course, investors know that nothing is for certain, but they want you to have a plan for the months and years to come.
So, a clear strategy is vital in your slide deck. It can include everything from sales strategy to a financial model. Plus, it can consist of a roadmap, traction, and validation. What's important with this slide is that you're clear about what challenges might come.
Who are you?
Who you are is beyond the members of your startup. Sure, the slide deck must include your team, but it doesn't stop there. Investors want to see a team that can handle a variety of topics, such as for example, financials.
Another essential topic to include in who you are in the competition. After all, by understanding your competition, you understand yourself. So, be sure to have it. Finally, don't be afraid to talk about where you come from.
Investors have varied upbringings. As a result, they relate to the struggles of creating and running companies. So, talking about what drives you as a founder is valuable, but don't think that you should put aside your human values because the process is stressful.
The same goes for creating a slide deck. It can be daunting. In fact, these slides that we mention are only some that you can include. IF you feel that you can use more guidance through this process, hit us up. We can help.
12 tips on how to create a Slide Deck
1. Think of Your Story First
Build your slides around your story, not the other way around. Focus on your main message first, then structure the supporting points around it, according to TED Talk resident UX lead Aaron Weyenberg. For instance, the core of the famous Airbnb pitch deck can be summed up in seven words: “Book rooms with locals rather than hotels”.
With a brief line like that, you can start weaving a story. Outline a beginning, a middle, and an end. Read here about the how the greatest communicators used storytelling to generate interest. Weyenberg adds practicing and timing your presentation. Only after this will you move on to crafting your slides, which serve to supplement and not caption the words you’ll speak. The pitch deck should be a visual enhancement of the listener’s experience.
2. Root for consistency
Your slide deck should be consistent. What this means is creating slides that look alike, display the same range of colors, apply the same fonts, and everything goes along the same broad line. A unified format helps give people the sense that everything is part of the same unified story.
3. Picture perfect
Use good pictures, especially those that also tell a story. Use as few words as you possibly can throughout your presentation. And remember that you’re not reading the slides, they’re just there to guide you as much as your audience.
4. Develop Templates for Transition
Think about the way you’re transitioning from one slide and topic to another. Work more on revealing information as you go along rather than presenting everything at once. All of your transitions should contribute to your storytelling. And they should make your presentation a smooth and effortless experience for your audience.
For instance, present the key points using a light text on a dark background. But also give your audience a break by using a dark text on a light background for transition slides.
Make sure to use the transition template before a new topic. In the PowerPoint universe, transitions also refer to animations. These can only distract the audience, though. And remember that you are wooing angel investors and venture capitalists. They should not feel like you are wasting their time.
5. Slides are last
Like we’ve been saying, you want to focus on your story. Be clear on the message you want to convey and how you’re going to deliver your presentation.
Think about the reactions you want to raise in your audience. Consider your VCs and their primary interests. Also, think about your potential consumers and any potential business partners. Then, as the last step to your mental work, start creating the slides that show the picture you have in mind.
6. Keep your business focus
Don’t want to think too deeply about the style of your slides? You can always just use pitch deck templates. Those are pre-filled template slides with a particular topic or user need in mind. The idea is for them to help you customize a previously outlined design for a new presentation. Use them to save up on time and design efforts and tailor them to your company.
7. Make the most of pictures and videos
Use the technique Aaron Weyenberg, a slide deck master, calls dupe-and-mask. According to Weyenberg, you should bring the viewers’ attention to a part of an image while making the rest transparent. And, you should follow this up with showing the whole picture at the end. With this technique, you direct attention to certain parts for emphasis and avoid losing people’s interest in the entire image.
For videos, Weyenberg suggests never using the auto-play option. Though it might sound like a good idea to rely on this option to keep the flow going, any faux pas to its workings can end up disrupting your presentation. Keep control on your side to start the video whenever you want that to happen, instead.
8. Follow the Rule of Three
Back again to Apple’s most famous orator. In his speeches, Steve Jobs would introduce three benefits of a particular product. Why three? It is said to be the magic number when it comes to the mind's ability to hold information. In February 2007, he teased the audience by saying they should expect three products that night. These were “a new iPod, a phone, and an internet communication device.” It turned out that it was three products found in one: the iPhone.
Three features, three key stats, three words that sum up the user experience. You can always tap into the power of three in your presentation. Three is short enough to entertain, but it is not too short either to lack the capacity to educate.
9. Take the Hero vs Villain Approach
If you have a protagonist, then you must have an antagonist. You can approach it this way: present a problem that an existing competitor cannot solve or has unwittingly created. Then present your solution.
Take again the example of Airbnb. Though the presentation took pieces of information from Couchsurfing.com and Craigslist.com, such as the market size, it also won in one area. It was able to show the investors what set Airbnb apart. After all, the two other businesses were already providing the market with bookings and listings of local places. Yet, Airbnb said they can do better by allowing hosts to earn and guests to book in three simple steps.
10. Detach from Distractions
Go easy on the transitions that are available in your slide deck creator. As mentioned earlier, these can only distract the audience. Worse, they can be annoying. Flipping or dissolving the page can feel like a cheap trick when it comes to gaining the attention of listeners.You know that some of the most important people you will meet in your lifetime are watching. Why risk falling into that trap?
So do not be boring. If transitions are built into your template deck, take the time to edit them out. You are dealing with the ideal 10-20 slides after all. It will not be too much of a chore. But if you really have to use them, just settle for the subtle ones. And use the same type across the deck.
11. Let the audience speak
When you’re delivering a pitch, you want people to be able to reach you. For any kind of presentation, the best way of knowing the impact you had is by listening or studying up on people’s responses.
End your pitch with your contact information and open yourself up to dialogue. Make sure the audience can ask questions and give feedback. Doing so is an excellent way of improving and following up with potential business contacts.
12. Moderate Motion
If you need to insert a video clip, do not set it on auto-play. You should be able to control the clip when it is its turn to show up in your presentation. A common scenario would have the presenter clicking to the desired slide and then the player failing to load the video at once. Sometimes this causes a brief moment of panic on the presenter's end. Instead of having the video play with one more click, they cause the deck to advance to the next slide. Weyenberg recommends setting the video to click to play. This way, you have established control over the video clip.
As the day of the presentation nears, you can also feel the pressure rise. You certainly want to please the investor crowd once you get up on the stage. It can already be challenging, especially for first-timers, to condense the business model and story into a 20-minute pitch. The deck only comes secondary to that.
And yet, building a better, more effective slide deck is an important part of the preparation. It is no easy feat in itself. To show your commitment, you have to allow yourself to be creative while working within the parameters of a great, time-tested design.
To relieve you of some of the pressure, here are a few more recommendations and examples from other evangelists such as Guy Kawasaki. Online, you can also find templates that you can use on the go, such as the ones crafted by Slidebean. These business presentation templates have been created with startups in mind. Incorporate the 10 tips and tricks you just learned into these templates, and you will be on your way to dishing out a slide deck that will make your story stand out.
Presentation design tips for startups:
How to make your pitch deck stand out
Creating a blockbuster slide deck needn't be an agonizing experience akin to passing a kidney stone. It's like any other serious task—you take it one step at a time until you eventually produce something that makes your own eyes light up. Let's examine four critical ideas behind the art of cranking out a top-notch slide deck that impresses even jaded venture capitalists who have already seen numerous elevator pitch examples.
1. REDUCE YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE TO ITS ELEMENTAL FORM
It's understandable that after being deeply immersed in the development process for months or even years, you might believe that merely describing your product or service requires many, many words. This is a common delusion. Even a sophisticated metallurgical process for manufacturing highly specialized aircraft parts can be briefly and cogently described to smart laypeople.
Wealthy investors tend to be more knowledgeable than most about an astonishing array of complex topics, but they aren't necessarily experts in their target industries. They reasonably expect you to use your insider knowledge to bring the essence of your startup business and its attendant technology portfolio to them for easy comprehension. The fruits of this exercise will be useful when you start selling your product to customers.
Trying to explain your business model to a bright school-age child will yield ample results. If you don't have children of your own, another company stakeholder or business associate, might. You could run into the most amazingly insightful questions, leading you to refine your explanation for adults.
Consider the following hypothetical explanation to a smart child:
"Jet aircraft fly high and fast. Their engines work hard and get very hot. Some parts in these engines are beaten up thousands of times a second. It's almost as if a mean but invisible wolverine was trying to tear them apart with red-hot teeth. These engine parts have to be amazingly tough. We specialize in making tough metal alloys for jet engine components. Some metals don't mix easily, but we've learned how to make titanium, iron, and aluminum play together. Our jet engine parts are better at fighting that wolverine. We're starting a business to make lots of tough jet-engine parts for aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. This business could make a lot of money."
Simplistic, sure—but you get the idea. Reaching extreme simplicity makes it easier to subsequently tailor the explanation to nearly any target audience.
2. DEFINE YOUR CUSTOMERS AND YOUR COMPETITION
No business model is complete without a clear explanation of how you plan to crush your competitors. A detailed, believable plan for first establishing a firm toehold in your chosen commercial niche and then steadily expanding your company into solid profitability and eventual marketplace domination would be perfect.
Defining the boundaries of a marketplace niche can be deceptively difficult. The scope and capabilities of existing software packages tend to expand relentlessly into related niches, and even longstanding physical products can abruptly swerve into irrelevancy as technology advances. You'll benefit greatly from closely studying not just obvious competitors but major players in related industries. It's hard work, and you might want to hire a professional researcher to sniff out recent or obscure developments that could impact your business model.
Quite apart from straightforward competition, the proliferation of broad technology patents could throw a major monkey wrench into your plans. Are you certain a patent troll hasn't already abusively filed for a vaguely worded patent that only anticipates your business idea without actually implementing it? If necessary, a patent researcher can help with this esoteric field of research. Your prospective investors will ask these questions if you don't, so being prepared will forestall potential embarrassment and instant loss of credibility.
Experienced investors keep their checkbooks close to their vests and their skepticism primed. The simplest way to avoid turning them off is to say as little as possible while still saying everything you need to say.
Consider a hypothetical example of clarity vs. brevity. Can you spot the essential differences between these two passages?
"Frabjous Manufacturing, Inc., plans to approach the potentially extensive aftermarket for car-mounted, phased-array radars by carefully designing its advanced radar kits to appeal to the widest possible audience and then packaging them to sell quickly through major retail chains after obtaining substantial purchase orders from retail buying agents.
"Automobile enthusiasts, business commuters, retail buying agents, and other prospective customers love the idea of aftermarket kits with advanced car-mounted radars for spotting high-flying UFOs, attack crows, and approaching tornadoes. Our team at Frabjous Manufacturing, Inc., has an immediate plan for selling this product through major retail chains."
The second passage is a touch longer than the first, but it feels shorter and sweeter nonetheless because it crams action and vivid imagery into the production instead of turtle words that leave your audience longing for the end.
Slow-moving notions like 'carefully designing' and 'widest possible audience' make way for intensity like 'love the idea' and 'spotting high-flying UFOs, attack crows and approaching tornadoes'.
This sort of enthusiastic efficiency is less common than you might think. Stuffing your sentences with focused images of enthusiastic customers and commercial success across multiple markets works far better than populating them with plodding descriptions that strike potential investors as boring, unimaginative, and unfortunate.
4. SLAM DOWN HARD ON VISUAL ASPECTS
The human brain is inherently visual. The available mental bandwidth for visual elements is far greater than for written and spoken words. Whether you use a pitch deck template or hire a professional pitch deck design service, your presentation needs to have harmoniously matched colors and hues that tell a richer, more satisfying story that transcends the dimensional flatness of text.
As with every other aspect of a powerful presentation, irrelevancies must be tossed out. Always ask yourself how a proposed visual element contributes to the clarity of the business vision you want to convey.
A picture or even a small movie of a cute puppy romping in a sunlit meadow as it happily anticipates the success of your company might raise a chuckle, but it's not relevant to your presentation.
The same logic applies to random cityscapes, panoramic views of industrial complexes, and close-ups of machinery—unless the machinery is the business idea you're pushing.
Animations that concisely illustrate key industrial and marketing concepts are great as long as they stay on point and stop immediately once they've finished the job. It's easy to fall in love with an animation for its own sake, so keep animations under control. Fancy transitions that contribute nothing are irrelevant. If you must, use quick fades and simple sliding transitions. Your audience will appreciate the courtesy of not being subjected to someone's badly concealed ambition to be a filmmaker.
Needless to say, superimposed text should always clearly stand out from the underlying image. Serif typefaces generally work better because their ornamented letters are less easily confused with natural straight lines and curves in the underlying images. Don't be afraid to let your words strut their stuff in large, bold letters that contrast sharply with the background.
As tempting as it might seem to use software tools make your words jiggle, bounce, and soar, don't do it. Hyperactive letters waste time, are distracting, and will probably annoy your audience.
Do keep in mind that color blindness is common enough that you should test your visual elements on as many volunteers as possible to avoid inadvertently alienating an important investor. For that matter, you might also want to keep an alternative presentation on hand that has entirely textual elements as a backup plan for sight-impaired individuals.
Finally, remember to test your slide projections under realistic conditions before setting them in stone. Ambient lighting can adversely affect the visibility of your projections. Always be prepared!
Where to Find the Best Free Slide deck Templates in 2023?
So, we've covered everything you need to know about slide decks. Still, one crucial question remains: where do you find the best slide deck templates for 2023? Well, we got you covered.
Slidebean has the best slide deck templates in 2023, and we have the experience to prove it. We've helped thousands of founders pitch to investors and land crucial funding. We at Slidebean can also help you fine-tune your financial model. Plus, if you have an existing slide deck, we can help you improve it.
So, check out these slide deck templates and write to us if you need more help with your slide deck.
Do you want to read more on how to make better presentations? Check our CEO’s article on slide deck presentation design, or take a look at Slidebean Agency for more information on all things startup pitch deck related.ion on all things startup pitch deck related.