How to design and deliver an investor pitch deck that gets funded

Phoebe Perelman

Written by

Phoebe Perelman

If you think delivering a main stage keynote is high stakes … think about giving an investor pitch. Millions – maybe billions – of dollars are on the line. Your ten-minute pitch can make or break the trajectory of your business. And investors hear hundreds of pitches every year. That’s why a powerfully persuasive pitch deck is essential. The right investor pitch deck can make the difference between moving your business forward and going back to the drawing board. If you need to develop a winning pitch deck, you’re in the right place.

Soon you’ll know how to ensure your pitch stands out from the sea of startup founders, and will secure the funding you need for your business idea.

What is an investor pitch deck?

An investor deck (also known as a pitch deck, an investor pitch, an investor presentation, and an investor pitch deck) is a presentation used by startup founders and CEOs to communicate their vision, strategy, and financial needs to potential investors. It typically includes some or all of the following content:

  • Problem/opportunity
  • Company mission/purpose
  • Team credentials
  • Competitive differentiation
  • Total addressable market
  • Business model
  • Key financial metrics
  • Plans for scale
  • Calls to action

But your investor deck content and flow will vary based on where you are in your funding journey. So, what is worth including, and when?

Seed funding decks

Seed funding decks are used by early-stage startups, these decks focus on the problem being solved, the unique solution, and initial traction or product-market fit. They require strong storytelling to compensate for limited financial history.

Series A decks

At this stage, startups have more data and traction to present. Series A decks emphasize market opportunity, business model, financial projections, and the team’s ability to execute the plan. Given that Series A startups have some capital, they can invest in high-quality, professionally designed decks to make a strong impression.

Series B and beyond

Series B decks, Series C decks, even Series D decks build on the foundation laid in earlier rounds, focusing on scaling the business, entering new markets, and enhancing product offerings. The focus here is on detailed financials, strategic milestones, and competitive advantages.

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Although it can be tempting to jump right into PowerPoint (or your presentation software of choice) and start cranking away at your slides, that’s not the best place to start.

So often, I hear pitches that:

  • Bury the lead
  • Sound like laundry lists
  • Include too much information

So, what goes into successful investor deck development, you ask? When we start working on an investor deck, we rely on a series of fundamental narrative exercises before we even think about touching PowerPoint.

How to create a pitch deck for investors

1. Analyze your audience

You have a lot you want to say. But have you thought about what the audience wants and needs to hear? Ask yourself:

  • Who are they?
  • What are their expectations for this meeting?
  • What do they fear when it comes to investing?
  • What do they need to hear? Metrics? Stories? A combination of both?

This Audience Needs Map™ is a good place to start. When you put in the work to understand what your audience hopes to gain and how they might resist, you’ll be equipped to identify the content that will fulfill their expectations and assuage their fears.

2. Craft a Big Idea™

Every great pitch stems from a foundational idea. What is that idea? We like to craft what we call, the Big Idea. It consists of two components. You can identify those components by asking yourself the following questions.

  • What is your unique point of view (on the market, industry, or need)?
  • What can you offer that no one else can?
  • What will your audience (the investor) get if they buy into your idea?
  • What will the audience miss out on if they do not buy into your idea?

Roughly speaking, that’s your Big Idea, and it will allow you to articulate why you’re different and what’s in it for the audience in the most succinct, compelling way.

3. Identify key messages

Once you’ve analyzed your audience and nailed down your Big Idea, you’re ready to flesh out your key messages. Write down every high-level message you need to convey, keeping the audience and your Big Idea in mind the whole time. If the content doesn’t align with what the audience needs, or directly support your Big Idea, then it may not be the right time to include it.

4. Organize your content and infuse contrast

You’ve identified your key messages, but now, how do you organize them? A good rule of thumb is to create a narrative flow or outline that utilizes contrast. We often hear pitches that start with the problem and then cover all the compelling reasons an investor should adopt an idea. But if you try to cover all the bad in the opening, and then only talk about sunshine and rainbows for the rest of the pitch, investors stop believing you. It sounds too sales-pitchy and too good to be true. Our brains need contrast throughout a pitch to engage in the critical thinking necessary to move an idea forward.

Duarte Persuasive Presentation Form

 5. Utilize data visualizations

When you’re pitching to an investor, no matter who they are, there’s one thing we guarantee they’re interested in: Data. But I’m not talking about metrics displayed as on-slide text. I’m talking about visual data insights. In other words, don’t just tell investors about key metrics, show them what performance looks like with the right charts, graphs, and other data visuals. Get started here with some examples of impactful, animated charts.

Chart annotation toolkit

6. Include a strong call to action

No pitch is complete without a call to action. What do you want investors to do now that they’ve listened to your pitch? Review more material? Schedule another conversation? Bring other decision-makers into the loop? Whip out their checkbook right then and there? Don’t leave any room for confusion: Direct the investor to the next step you want them to take.

Call to action statement slide example

How to prepare for the pitch

If you’ve followed the suggestions above and you’re still feeling like your pitch is not quite there, never fear. You can get inspiration by looking at other investor pitch deck examples. A quick Google search should do the trick. Observe the content, flow, and visual style of other pitch decks. How can you emulate what works, while ensuring your deck isn’t a carbon copy of all the other pitch decks out there?

Duarte's presentation tips helped Propeller raise it's first $100 million fund. - Propeller

If you’re feeling confident about your pitch deck content, but lukewarm about your delivery, it may be time to consider a speaker coach to develop your public speaking skills. After all, you could have the best idea and/or pitch in the world – but if you can’t sell it with conviction, energy, and urgency, it won’t go far. They say practice makes progress…but the real progress is made when you practice with a professional.

Not only does a speaker coach become your rehearsal accountability partner, they’ll also provide executable feedback and practical tools to take your pitch skills to the next level. The speaker coaches at Duarte work with executives of all kinds to rehearse their presentations and pitches, polish their presence, and transform their delivery.

I can honestly say this was one of the best learning experiences I've had in a long time and I have a lot more confidence about speaking thanks to you. Fortune 500 Vice President, Speaker Coaching client

So if you’re looking for a partner who can help both craft and practice your pitch, look no further.

How Duarte can help with your next investor pitch deck

Duarte’s persuasive expertise ensures that you’re not just telling your story – you’re making a powerful case for investment. No matter what stage of funding you’re preparing for, we will set you up for success.

Whether you need help crafting your content, organizing your pitch, refining your messaging, designing visuals, delivering with confidence, or all of the above our agency experts can meet you where you’re at and do the heavy lifting.

If you prefer a more do-it-yourself approach, check out communication workshops like Resonate®, to learn storytelling basics or Slide:ology®, to master design principles that you can apply to your next investor pitch.

Don’t leave investor dollars on the table. Get in touch today.

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