Spoiler Alert: You are going to need more than one Pitch Deck

In the startup community you often hear people talk about “your pitch deck”, “send me your pitch deck”, or “you need a pitch deck”; acting as if it’s one pitch deck, but it’s not. You are going to have multiple versions of your pitch deck. Founders don’t think about this when they start putting together a deck or a presentation, but there are a lot of different uses for that deck. And a different deck may be needed.

Different Decks Depending on How You Use it – Send Ahead vs. In-Person

Each time you use your deck in a different way, it is valuable to develop a different version. If you are presenting to potential investors for funding, they will ask to see your pitch deck before you actually come in and present. That pitch deck is what I call a Send Ahead Deck or a Leave Behind Deck, meaning that it is a visual document that you are going to hand to somebody.

It is usually in a PDF format and it needs to be able to stand alone without you. Investors need to be able to read through it and understand the company first; to get excited and interested in talking to you. Once they’ve decided “That sounds really interesting” and they want to hear more, they will invite you to come in for a meeting. Depending on the firm, you might have a conversation first and then go through a pitch, during which you’ll actually pitch live.

When you do a live in-person pitch, it will need to be with a totally different pitch deck. Because if you use that original deck; it will have all the same content and information that you sent to them. Not only is that a snooze fest , but also the deck is likely more content-heavy. It had to stand alone without you after all. You may find your audience struggling to read the slides as you speak, and it will distract the audience from what you are saying. You really want the in-person presentation to be a lot simpler than the leave-behind.

In summary, your send ahead deck should have less information on the slides and be more visually appealing; it will better support you as you pitch. It’s your supporting aid. It is not supposed to all the information and everything you need for your pitch deck. In that way, you have at least two versions of your deck.

Different Versions for Different Audiences

Let’s think about the different ways you might use a presentation or a pitch deck. If you are pitching for investment, that is type of audience. If you are pitching to potential customers, that is a totally different audience What a potential buyer cares about is going to be different than what somebody who you are hoping to get investment from cares about.

An investor cares about the 30,000 ft view of what your company is, how it works, how you are you going to build it, what it can grow into, etc. Whereas a potential client cares about how the product or service meets their needs and can work for them within their business. They want to know what is useful about it, or why it’s better than what they are using today. For client-facing decks, look to include some testimonials and case studies.

So, depending on the target audience for the deck, you’ll need different versions of the deck. And, if you are going to be sending a document out, versus presenting live, that’s going to be another two different version. So at this point we might be talking about 4 different pitch deck versions.

When someone says, “Hand me your pitch deck”. What they are really saying is “Hand me the version that I care about” because there are many different versions of your deck.

I hope this little insight has been valuable for you today: Do not feel like you have only one pitch deck or worse, that you need to fit the story that everything cares about into one particular deck. You will have multiple versions of it. Go through a deep discovery process to really think through what matters to the audience that you are pitching to and what you are hoping to get out of it; because those are two points that will really drastically affect what you are going to want to put into the pitch.

During Pitch Deck Fire’s “Pitch Hack” series, we cover tips and tricks on pitching, pitch decks, sales decks, investor pitching and live presentations. If you are a startup founder looking for funding, or an established company looking for new customers, or maybe you are in an accelerator or incubator program – all of you can find value in our Pitch Hacks. I am so glad you joined us this week and we’ll see you again soon.

Happy Pitching!