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8 Pitch Deck Tools that Make an Investor’s Life Easy

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This article is the first in a two-part series about Pitch Deck tools. Next week we’ll look at the best tools for designing an awesome pitch deck.

Pitch decks are straightforward and simple enough documents. At least they should be. Imaginative people are always trying to come up with something better and cooler than a slideshow, but so far, nada. Really, the simplicity of slides with a few bullet points, images, and graphs can’t be beat.

At least not until the day when your hologram can give the presentation for you.

Which leads to this important point. The investors who will be viewing your pitch deck — in whatever form — expect it to be easy, intuitive, and frictionless.

That is, if your slides don’t open, click or format correctly, you’re DOA.

You have to approach your pitch deck with the end user in mind– what he or she will see. Investors don’t care how much time and effort goes into your deck either. They’ll judge it the same whether you banged it out over lunch or spent weeks slaving over it.

The simplicity of a pitch deck means there’s no excuse for a technical glitch. That’s true whether you’re presenting live or sending the deck electronically.

Email etiquette

Interestingly, some say you should NEVER email your pitch deck to an investor in advance. Why? Because investors are busy and it might get lost in a sea of other pitches. Or they’ll pick it apart without you there to defend it, resulting in an automatic rejection.

That may be so, but your pitch deck shouldn’t depend on you being there to sell it. If it does, you probably made it too complicated. Always have two pitch decks in your arsenal. The first is the minimalist, simple one which you email in advance and present with. The second is the complex one with appendixes that you follow up with.

If possible, you want to avoid sending cold emails to investors. They have no extra incentive to open them. Aim for warm emails or even better — solicited pitches.

Show your face

To do that, you’ll have to tap your network and find out who knows who. If you don’t have a network already, start building one. The startup community is small enough in most cities; by simply attending an event, people will notice you.

What should you do if you’re a painful introvert and the thought of meeting strangers freaks you out? Get over it… ASAP. Networking is a part of every founder’s life. Bring a wingman to events, and/or down a few drinks (kombucha?) to get your tongue primed for small talk.

Eventually, as more people recognize your face, the whole networking thing will be less intimidating. When investors can put your name to a face, your emails will no longer be cold. They’ll get opened. Start doing this today, so that future fundraising is easier.

The essence of a pitch deck is simple. You need a program to work in, a presentation medium, and one or two external tools. That’s it. Here are your eight pitch deck tools to choose from:

Microsoft PowerPoint — in the startup world, PowerPoint is ubiquitous. In fact, it’s really another word for slideshow. Microsoft is always making little improvements because…well, they have to (they charge a subscription fee). Powerpoint’s biggest advantage is that it works without an internet connection (No WiFi? No problem!).

Pros

  • Trust factor. You won’t have to battle a firewall while setting up your presentation

  • Not dependent on an internet connection

Cons

  • Travel. You’ll have to bring a laptop or a USB stick

  • Lacks a commenting feature for email files

  • Dependent on end user having Office installed for best viewing

Apple Keynote — as you would expect from an Apple program, the fonts are rich and the templates are best-in-class. Some investors will notice and appreciate the visual bonus. Using Keynote allows you to click through slides using your iPhone… upping your cool factor by approximately 10. Don’t forget, investors dig cool people.

Pros

  • Better looking fonts and design

  • Click through slides using your iPhone

  • Easy device transport (no laptop required)

Cons

  • Only works across Apple devices (PDF for all non-Apple toys)

Google Slides — this is a cloud-based free program, open to anyone with a Google account. It works like PowerPoint (with fewer templates) and can be saved in PowerPoint or PDF.

  • Device independent (access Docs from any browser)

  • Doesn’t need to bypass company firewalls to present

  • Embedded links work like a charm

  • Comment enabling (helpful if sending deck via email)

Cons:

  • Internet dependent (always have a backup PDF or PowerPoint deck)

  • URL shortener is not automatic

Apache OpenOffice Impress — this is a free, open source alternative to PowerPoint. It’s a little harder to make slides from the designer’s perspective, but most investors will not see any drop off in aesthetics.

Pros:

  • Slides can be saved in PowerPoint

  • Slides transfer easily to Slideshare (or any other online source)

Cons:

  • Might have firewall issues depending on where you present

Slideshare — this is great for sending a deck over email. You can send it before or after a presentation, using a link (which can be adjusted for privacy). Slideshare has a mobile app that makes viewing decks on a phone easy.

Pros

  • Internet-based, syncs across all devices

Cons

  • Internet connection dependent

Adobe PDF — portable document formats can be created using PowerPoint, Keynote, Slides, or Press. They’re instantly recognizable as attachments in email and pose very little threat from viruses.

Pros

  • Trusted by investors as an email attachment

Cons

  • Original file image quality isn’t perfect; slight distortions exist

  • Navigation menu conflicts with Office’s layout

Screenshot software — this would really only come into play post-presentation, if you need to clarify or go over a fine point. It’s a GOOD thing if you’re using it, because it means the investor hasn’t said no.

There are several free and low-cost options like Jing, Camstudio (not to be confused with Camtasia), and Screencast-O-Matic.

Lapel Microphone — a microphone only applies (obviously!) if you’re presenting in person. The rule is this: if you’ll be standing up, you NEED a mic. A lapel mic is the way to go because it’s 1) barely visible, and 2) it won’t remind anyone in the audience of that morning’s drive-thru experience at Wendy’s.

Amazon has a truckload of five-star clip-on mics for under $50.

Let me say a quick word about Prezi. It makes beautiful and interesting presentations but it’s NOT appropriate for pitch decks. Investors want to read simple stories in rapid progression, which is why slideshows work. Prezi looks too much like a busy art school canvas.

So that’s all folks! Pretty basic, right? But it’s the simple things that smart people sometimes overthink and end up stubbing their toes on.

The core ingredients for an investor-facing pitch deck are all low-cost and free. Now go forth and create something that will become a 500 Startups case study two years from now.

Still got questions? Let’s talk it out. Contact us here. Are you a startup investor with suggestions for us about pitch decks? Click here to give us your two cents.