Author Koral Hull
If you attend enough pitch meetings you have been subject to the pain and rigors of a slide presentation. All too often there is an expectation that certain elements must be included. Why? “Well, we’ve always done it that way.”
Luckily there is a new model emerging in the M&A market that employs logic and empathy for the audience to achieve a positive outcome. The modern pitch deck addresses two key questions:
“What does the audience need to know in order to make a decision in the firm’s favor?”
“How can that content be delivered as painlessly as possible?”
Confusing a slide deck with a pitch book.
A slide deck should be a visual guide to the story that you tell. While a pitch book is an organized reference manual to a proposed solicitation.
We have seen firms attempt to present a pitch book as a narrative. Which is similar to selling someone a car by reading the owner’s manual. Ensure that the content you present reflects its purpose, whether it is a pre-meeting reference or in person persuasion.
The “Where’s Waldo” customer logo slide.
The logo slide should focus on what the audience is looking for: 2-3 relatable logos that indicate that you have experience with similar organizations.
Almost every pitch deck includes the pedigree page. It is better to go deep on presenting similar projects than overwhelm them with all of your experience. If you’ve reached the point of an in-person pitch, your competence is most likely not in question.
Not having the right person in the room.
When you are crafting the pitch deck, you want to tell stories that relate to the audience. Even if you can’t have every associate with related experience in the room, you can be sure to share their story if you have a searchable content repository.
With a mid-size firm, you may have more collective experience than you first suspect. The problem occurs when you don’t have those experiences organized.
An Experience Database could be the most impactful innovation that your firm creates.
Running through the mandatory slides.
Recycling is not always a good thing. Most firms have their “standard deck” which includes 20-30 slides and provide a history of the firm & representation philosophy. No one ever felt cheated by seeing fewer slides than expected.
If you find yourself thinking “I just need to get through these background slides before I get to the meat of the presentation” start paring down the slides.
Too much info…too little slide.
This one is another basic. If you find yourself reading the slide to your audience, you have too many words on the slide. It is important to balance visuals with the narrative.
Not having the end game in mind.
Remember why you are in the room. It isn’t to demonstrate your eloquence or design skills; it is to persuade your audience to action. If you find that your deck does not support a cohesive story that draws your audience toward the desired action, it is time to rethink your presentation.
Ready to update you pitch deck?
Avoiding our six pitch deck mistakes will allow you to present a more concise and ultimately more influential story. The best decks are organized and accentuate your firm’s experience.
Keep your persuasive goal in mind and make your train of thought easy to follow. The pitch deck is a visual guide to your presentation, not an all-encompassing record: fewer words, fewer fonts, and minor graphic diversity.