How To Create A Winning Pitch Deck - 10 Do's and Dont's
As a freelance consultant, you only get one chance to make a first impression on a potential client. Even if you’ve worked on dozens of pitch decks in the past, it never hurts to review the basics needed for a successful pitch that will win consulting projects.
If you’re a freelancer using our online consulting platform to find projects to work on, here are some do’s and dont’s to help you create your PowerPoint presentation in advance of the big pitch day.
Do: Stay Concise
When you are pitching on a consulting project, keep in mind that you most likely are not the only pitch the potential client will listen to that day. Your audience will not have a lot of time for a rambling presentation with 30-40 slides detailing all the research you’ve done or all of your years of past experiences. While you might feel like you need to pack a lot into your presentation, including a lot of excess information in your pitch deck will not automatically make your pitch more persuasive.
Don’t: Go Longer than 10 Slides
Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva, has become well-known for his 10/20/30 rule for presentations. According to Kawasaki, the presentation should not have more than 10 slides, be no longer than 20 minutes in duration, and should use a font size of 30 points or more so that your audience can easily read any text. Keep in mind that with 10 slides and 20 minutes to present, this amounts to spending an average of just two minutes on each slide. We’ll talk more about slide content later.
Do: Demonstrate You’ve Done Your Research
If you are pitching to a potential consulting client, you’ll want your pitch deck to first show that you understand the client’s needs and the goal of their project. Second, it’s important to demonstrate that you are also aware of what’s been done in the past (if anything) by your client or by other companies with similar projects. Third, your pitch deck should convey the skills you bring in order to ensure a successful project.
Don’t: Use Jargon and Acronyms
Be very careful to avoid using jargon and acronyms in your pitch deck. No one wants to look at a slide full of “alphabet soup” – multiple acronyms that the audience has to try to decipher for themselves if they’re not used to those abbreviations.
Industry jargon – meaning highly technical terminology – is also something to avoid. Many professionals use jargon and confusing terms simply to make themselves sound smarter, but they end up sounding very robotic and snobbish. Be authentic. Use easy-to-understand language that shows you truly recognize the client’s needs.
Do: Tell a Story
When you are pitching on a consulting project, the potential client wants to see the person behind the pitch. Tell a story (but remember to keep it brief) about your past experiences and how those make you uniquely qualified to work on this particular project. Or, tell a story about the journey you’ve taken in your career that led to you showcasing your skills through a freelance consulting platform. Stories like these build trust with a potential client – and people are more likely to want to work with people they trust.
Don’t: Forget Photos and Graphics
No one wants to watch a presentation that is simply someone standing and reading paragraphs of text on a bunch of slides. Most times, the people you are presenting to will be reading the text on the slides instead of paying attention to what you are saying. Photos and graphics can liven up your presentation by visually representing or complementing the concept you are talking about – without being as distracting as text.
Do: Be Consistent in Formatting
It’s okay to have different types of slides: some incorporating bullet points, some with photos or graphics, or even some that consist of a single phrase. However, slides should always use the same color scheme and font types. The best practice would be to use your brand colors and fonts in your presentation. If you want to put your name or a logo on every slide in your pitch deck, be sure it is placed in the same spot on each slide.
Don’t: Crowd Your Slides with Info
There is an often-quoted “6 x 6 Rule” that says slides should not have more than 6 bullet points and that each bullet point should contain no more than 6 words. Some design advice even says you should have no more than 6 words on a single slide. That may seem extreme, but the point is valid: Less is more.
When there is a lot of information packed onto a pitch deck slide, your audience will be focused on absorbing all that information, instead of listening to you. As mentioned in the quote above from Guy Kawasaki, your font size should not be less than 30 points. With a font size this large, you definitely won’t be able to fit a lot of text on a slide – especially if you include a photo or graphic.
The Winning Pitch Deck
Putting together a pitch deck that will win consulting projects will be easier if you follow the above do’s and dont’s. As a final piece of advice, remember that the pitch deck should complement your presentation to the potential client. This is what makes it different from simply sending a proposal that they can read at their convenience. If you have managed to secure a meeting to present your pitch, you want to be sure to respect the other person’s time by making the best use of it. That is the basis for a successful pitch deck.