Presenting a pitch deck
Ah, the dreaded pitch deck. Every business has one, some have way too many. However, no matter how you slice it, the pitch deck is an integral part of doing business in a digital landscape. And if you don’t know how to present a pitch deck better, you’re going to lose out on winning that new client, who knows, maybe even your first date. Here we will help you to present a pitch deck like a pro!
Don’t just read your slides.
Don’t just read your slides. This seems obvious, but it’s far too common to see presenters who do nothing more than reading their slides out loud. Communicating verbally is different from communicating via text on a screen. You need not be a master storyteller or comedian to give an engaging presentation, but you should at the very least aim to make your audience feel like they’re in the presence of a human being who is thinking and breathing and not just reading from a script.
Don’t just use your slides as a bullet point by bullet point outline. Don’t think about each slide as an individual unit that needs to stand on its own, separate from all the other slides in your presentation. Think about them holistically, as part of one big picture, with each individual slide playing only one small part in how this large picture comes together in the head of your audience members by the end of your presentation.
Use visuals to back up claims, reinforce ideas or add detail.
In a presentation, visuals are a key part of how you interact with your audience. Visuals allow you to easily back up arguments and present evidence. Visuals give added life to your ideas, letting you provide supplemental information that can help people understand what’s going on in a different way from text alone.
To effectively use visuals in presentations, make sure the pictures or other graphics you choose illustrate what you’re saying rather than distract from it. Don’t use images just for the sake of having them there — think about what message they’re sending, and why that’s important for your audience to see.
Here are some examples of when visual aids might be effective:
Never distract with colour or fonts.
If you’ve ever seen the terrifying presentation at the beginning of The Wolf of Wall Street, you know exactly what NOT to do with your slide deck.
Some cardinal rules are: don’t use a lot of different fonts (one or two is fine), don’t use a lot of different colours, don’t use a lot of different backgrounds, and definitely don’t use a lot of different layouts.
Basically, you should aim for consistency in everything from size to colour to line spacing. You want to eliminate any distractions from the content itself so your audience can focus on what matters — not the fact that some words are pink and other words are green or that each slide looks wildly different from the one before it.
Another important thing to avoid is using too many effects when presenting your slides. This goes along with what I mentioned about distracting people with flashy elements on every single page. If you have animations on every single bullet point or transition between slides, people will become overwhelmed and less likely to pay attention because they’re too busy trying to figure out how this next slide will appear before their eyes!
Place emphasis on the presenter, not the slides.
We’ve all been in a presentation where the speaker has put so much work into their slides that it’s clear the presenter is actually a little afraid to look away from them. The slides are there to support what you’re saying, not to be the focus of your talk. To be blunt, if you’re worried about being able to read your own slides, or what they’ll look like in front of an audience, you need to spend less time on making slides and more time on planning exactly how and why you want to present this information.
Slides should be simple and uncluttered, with text large enough for an audience at the back of the room to read. If your audience can’t read the text, they’ll get distracted trying (or they won’t even bother trying), which means they’re not listening to YOU!
Move around and be comfortable.
It’s important to own the space you’re given. Whether it’s your desk, a conference room or an auditorium, explore the area and existing furniture. Don’t stay behind the podium if there is one. Don’t spend too much time standing in front of your audience. Instead, use your space and make yourself comfortable with it.
Walk around to different places in the room when you want to emphasize different points; move toward your audience for impactful points, and walk away from them for more casual ones. Use the physical space you have available to give meaning to what you are saying through movement and gesture. It will help keep everyone engaged and humanize you as a presenter
Keep it simple and focus on yourself.
Now, you might be thinking “But my presentation is about the slides!”. If so, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Really ask yourself: what are you trying to say? What do you want people to take away from this?
One common mistake is using too many words on slides—trying to put the whole presentation on there. Or worse yet, reading off of them word for word. But if all of your info is on the screen, people will just read that instead of listening to you. You’ll lose their attention and they won’t even notice if you finish talking or not because they’re too busy reading. And if they’re reading, how can they possibly care about what you have to say?
Avoid this pitfall by making your presentation simple: keep it focused on you and your message. Powerpoint should only help reinforce and clarify main points; it shouldn’t overwhelm or dominate what you’re saying with distracting visuals and text-heavy slides.
Whether you are a small startup pitching to an investor or a big corporation presenting your new product/service to a customer, presenting effectively is all about having the right preparation and knowing how to structure your presentation.
If you need help, we at Sami Kayyali are equipped with the right experience to create beautiful and professional presentations. Whether you need it for print or digital online platforms, we can help you with every step of the way from design to content creation.