Lateral Capital Management, LLC

Making a Great Pitch Deck

The subject of “how to make a successful presentation” has been written about endlessly. Every Venture Capital fund, business school, Angel group and new company incubator has a preferred approach. Most of the “rules” are simple and similar – i.e. keep your pitch short and focused.

The issue, of course, is that no one takes this advice! This is the case no matter what the audience, how often it’s heard or who offers it. How do we know?

  • We routinely see 40 page presentations in 8 point type which still can’t explain what the benefit of the product or service really is. By and large, people with money ask themselves first: “Would I buy this?” If it isn’t very obvious what you sell, who will buy it and why, your audience is lost.
  • We routinely see presentations with misspellings, run-on sentences and page numbers that don’t follow one another. You can’t make this up: We recently saw a software company who misspelled the word “Microsft,” their key distributor.
  • We see decks and decks on great solutions to problems which don’t exist. These are the dreaded “solution looking for a problem” presentations and they get really poor results.
  • We see lots of people who struggle with making a compelling PowerPoint presentation in person, much less in the allotted time. Here’s a thought: Rehearse!
  • We see decks delivered by e-mail which use lots of reverse white type on a dark background. This may be fine for a presentation presented on a screen. But when you print this out, as we do so we can write on them, the paper is wet with ink and impossible to see notes on.

With these points in mind, we believe some of the best current thinking about how to build a great pitch deck comes from Canaan Partners and their presentation on “How To Build a Pitch Deck”[]. This is good advice presented in a respectful way: They aren’t looking down their noses at the entrepreneur. It is also appropriately self-serving. They are telling entrepreneurs exactly how they want to see businesses pitched to them. We don’t like everything they say and we don’t invest in companies which need gobs of venture capital. But still, their guidance is very sound.

“Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.”

Author Unknown