Mastering PowerPoint isn’t something to be proud of. But it’s a reality of a startup CEO’s job if you’re trying to raise capital. Why?
Because sex sells.
Pitching is hard. It’s intimidating, frustrating and stressful. I still can’t eat for a few hours after I pitch on stage because of the nerves involved. No one can say that pitching is easy. But there’s just no excuse for having an ugly investor presentation (or “deck”). Your pitch needs to be sexy.
And if you think the design and style of a presentation doesn’t matter you’re dead wrong. There’s certainly a whole lot more involved in a pitch than the style and design of the PowerPoint slides you present, but damn, do they ever matter!
Back in May I posted a few sample slides for a Standout Jobs presentation I had given a number of times. I was using them as an example of “sexy slides”, but in retrospect they weren’t good enough. And I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make my slides sexier.
Don’t forget: Sex sells.
I’m not selling sex (far from it) but you can be damn sure that the style and design of your slides matters. And it’s an easy problem to fix.
Here’s an example of a slide from my old presentation compared to an upgraded version from my recent presentation at the Banff Venture Forum:
Old Version of the Slide
New Version of the Slide
Two key things — there are no words and the image is presented in a slightly more interesting way, at an angle. Very simple things to do that seriously make a difference in how you present.
Here are four other slides from my recent presentation that I think are good. They’re very visual, use very few words and sequentially they tell a real story that resonates (hopefully!) with viewers.
Why do sexy slides matter?
It’s simple really:
- They engage the audience more. You’re trying to convince an audience of venture capitalists to care about you. And that’s not easy. You need to catch their attention, grab their eyes and engage them instantly, with every single slide presented.
- They give you more confidence. I really believe that the nicer your presentation is visually the more confidence you can gain from it. You know that your presentation is “damn nice” and that even if you stumble or don’t give the “perfect pitch” your slides will help carry you. It might sound silly, but it’s absolutely true.
- They prove you can tell a good story. Sexy slides are a good indication that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your presentation and that you’re able to tell a good story. And if you think pitching is anything but storytelling, you’re in trouble.
- They give you one less thing to worry about. Pitching is extremely hard. Asking for money is hard. Having sexy slides is just one thing that you can check off on a long list of things you need to do extremely well to raise capital. There’s no good reason to leave sexy slides to chance or ignore them completely. VCs will have a million questions about your business and poke holes in you until you look like Swiss cheese, but don’t give them a reason to ignore you because your slides were crappy and your presentation was boring.
I know it sounds silly or trite, but it matters. A lot.
If you want your pitch to be successful you need to start with a strong foundation for your pitch, and a big part of that is the quality of your slides.