Last week, our very own COO and co-founder, Olga Svitelska, lead a workshop on Pitch Deck Design at Stanford University’s Cardinal Ventures. She covered various topics, from the importance of consistency and structure in pitch design to the deck’s format and size. Here’s a summary of her presentation’s main points to get your pitch deck delivery to where it needs to be.
A clean pitch deck design amplifies your message. It works to extend your brand and create a unified experience for viewers. Strong imagery and the right techniques will leave a unique and memorable impression. When pitching, you want to connect with your audience emotionally and stand out from the countless other pitches they have seen and heard that day.
Setting up your Deck
When setting up your deck, consider its purpose. Is it ultimately for internal use, conference presentation, to share digitally, or something else?
Tip: Use darker decks when sharing digitally (higher contrast helps your deck be more visible on the screen) and lighter decks to send out (decks without voiceover have more content to process and people are used to read dark text on light background).
Decide the best format for how it is going to be used. If you need others to edit or chime in, what software is most convenient for everyone? Select presentation software based on your needs and proficiency. From here, you can decide which tool to use (Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google slides are the most popular for collaboration).
Tip: It should be easy for you to collaborate with others and make edits after you’ll be receiving feedback from potential investors (lots of feedback!).
Make sure your deck size matches the display format. Will you present it on a TV or computer screen, or will it be projected?
Always use widescreen format in case you’re planning to present it digitally. Also, make sure to check your deck on screens with large resolution to ensure good quality of imagery.
Tip: Using master slides will save you a lot of time while working on the deck.
Finally, set up your master slides and primary layouts before starting the design process. Doing so will save a lot of time further on.
Master slides help you keep your layouts, fonts and colors consistent.
For your master slides, make sure you’re using one alignment style throughout your deck. Poor composition and inconsistency might break the visual flow.
Tip: Since people are reading left to right – try to place all important information on the left and in the center, supporting imagery can go on the right.
Needless to say, be consistent in your layouts. Make sure you are keep title and subtitle placements the same throughout all slides. When using similar elements like icons, bullet points and columns make sure they are all aligned and are same size.
Using one alignment style also helps you look more professional.
Use slide breaks to mark sections of your presentation. This gives your audience much needed breaks throughout and gives the presentation structure. Just like here:
Bullet points make the text more digestible and ensure essential points are easily recognizable, as opposed to large blocks of text. Just like below:
Tip: A good rule of thumb is to not use more than 6 bullet points or 6 lines of text on one slide
Accentuate your text as much as possible with icons and imagery to attract the right attention and focus the viewer on the right places. See example below: the block on the left attracts attention and focuses on the text beneath the icons. Text block on the right does not look very engaging:
A crowded slide makes information harder to read. Give your deck some air using white space. Don’t overload your deck with text and images, especially if you are going to voiceover your deck – move all unnecessary text to speaker notes.
Tip: It’s better to have 2 versions of your deck – one for presenting (less text) and full version for sharing afterwards.
Seek balance and use the tools available to find a complimentary set of colors to form a palette instead of choosing random colors. What looks readable to you might not be for others with a different glasses prescription! Make use of tools such as Adobe Color, Color Space, Color Hunt, and Colorcode.
Tip: Try to keep your palette simple; 2-3 accent colors + black text will make it work.
Many founders are used to take random images from Google for their deck; unfortunately it makes their presentations look visually inconsistent. Also, often images are bad quality too, which makes your deck look unpolished and unprofessional. Not to mention that it is illegal to use imagery without the license.
Stick with licensed and readable fonts. Try to avoid ‘Crazy’ handwritten and decorative fonts and fonts downloaded from illegal sources. Inconsistent font choices, line spacing, and other font and paragraph settings break consistency and look less professional. They must be consistent throughout.
Select 3-4 fonts styles to use across the deck (for titles, subtitles, headers, and body text). Make sure to use a minimum of 12pt for the body size, in case text doesn’t fit – review the copy instead of making it tiny or create more slides.
In Pitch Deck design, Less is always More. Make sure copy is concise, visuals are on brand and on point and ending is memorable.