3 Ways To Make Your Pitch Deck Cut Through the Noise

Renowned Pixar film director, screenwriter and producer Andrew Stanton says, “The greatest story commandment: make me care.” While he may have been talking about his famous animated movies, he could’ve just as easily been talking about the most important tool in a founder’s toolbelt: the infamous pitch deck.

We all know that a pitch deck is important. Without an effective pitch there is no funding, and without funding there is no business. But do you know what truly makes a winning pitch deck? Do you know how to tell your unique story in a way that paints your vision, ensures buy-in, and inspires action?

We make a lot of pitch decks, and through those experiences we’ve seen some patterns that separate the good from the best. The most effective pitch decks do three things better than all the rest: Tell a compelling story, cater to a specific audience, and clearly communicate the unique value of that solution. Let’s break those down.

1. Tell a compelling story.

Yes, you’re pitching a business idea, but if you drown your audience with facts and figures then it’ll be easy to tune you out. When you develop an emotional connection to something, you’re much more likely to remember it, even if the only thing you remember is the way it made you feel.

Use the heart to pull them in, and the head to back it up. And above all else, you have to be sure that you’re easily and clearly answering the question, “who cares?” If you can’t make your listener care, then all the polish and catchy visuals in the world won’t make a difference.

2. Cater to a specific audience.

Understanding who you’re talking to is critical for answering the critical “who cares?” question. If you’re talking to a financially-minded investor, don’t spend 5 minutes talking about how you met your co-founder. Just like we’ve all seen a movie that felt like a waste of time, all directors love their movie but what matters is if the audience does. The same is true for pitches; every founder loves his or her idea, what matters is if the audience does.

To make sure you’re catering to your specific audience, be sure to consider things like: How much do they already know? How educated are they? What motivates them? Why should they trust you? If you can answer these questions, you’ll be better equipped to speak to your specific audience.

3. Communicate the value of your solution.

This may seem simple, but keep in mind that you live and breathe this idea so it may be challenging to paint the bigger picture. When you’re explaining your idea, you’re starting at third base, so be sure to bring everyone else along with you, and avoid business or technical lingo that will alienate or confuse your audience.

But even when you manage to keep it simple and avoid lingo, there is another trap that comes from being too close to the idea: you focus on base level features as opposed to high level benefits. Imagine if Apple had announced the iPhone X by telling you that the screen was 5.8 inches with a 2436-by-1125-pixel resolution at 458 ppi. That would be crazy, right? That is because Apple is amazing at selling you on what you can do and who you can be because of what the iPhone does for you.

As you comb through your pitch, make sure you’re passing everything through a “so what” filter: focus on the benefits that specific features can get for your customers. Why does your product matter? What is the “beautiful future” that your product can create? If you can focus on the value your product creates and help people see what they can accomplish with it, you’ll have a much more effective pitch.

Starting a company comes with enough challenges, don’t let your pitch deck be one of them. Pitch decks are more than just compelling words and flashy visuals; you have to communicate your vision and provide reasons to buy in to your idea. But if you create a pitch deck that tells a compelling story, caters to a specific audience, and clearly communicates the unique value of that solution, you’ll be on your way to delivering a winning pitch that gets people on board and inspires action.