8 Top Tips for Designing a Winning Pitch Deck

Design tips

Nov 22, 2023


7 min read

Meris Imamović

A successful pitch deck strikes a delicate balance between information and engagement. It weaves a cohesive storyline, blending key elements seamlessly to capture attention and drive the desired action.

Key Elements of a Winning Pitch Deck

Crafting a killer narrative in your pitch deck is like spinning an epic story but in a business-savvy way. It's about turning mind-boggling ideas into a story that rocks and keeps your audience hooked!

First things first, it's all about simplifying the complex stuff. You're turning complex concepts into a storyline that's smooth, easy to follow, and doesn't make anyone's brain hurt. Imagine explaining your idea to your best friend—simple, engaging, and totally clear. That's the vibe you're going for!

The flow of your pitch should be smooth like scrolling through your favorite app. Each slide or section should smoothly connect to the next, creating a story that makes sense from start to finish. It's like guiding your audience through a thrilling adventure, making them root for your solution to win against the problems.

And of course, don't forget the visuals! Cool graphics, relatable stories, or even a sprinkle of humor can take your pitch from 'meh' to 'wow!' They're like the secret sauce that makes your story stick in people's minds long after you've dropped the mic.

Tip #1: Using Visuals to Enhance Storytelling

Using visuals to level up your pitch story is like adding color to a black-and-white movie—it brings your ideas to life! Ditch the boring text blocks; instead, splash your slides with eye-catching graphics, cool infographics, or even memes that speak your language.

Visuals? They're the superheroes that make your pitch pop! Visuals have the unique ability to evoke emotions and tell stories without words. They can create a narrative, illustrate scenarios, or evoke specific feelings, thereby fostering a deeper connection with your audience. They also help your audience vibe with your story, making it stick in their heads long after the presentation ends. So, get those visuals in there and let them do the talking!

Example of using visuals in my Lumio pitch deck

Tip #2: Consistency and Cohesive Design

Here's the deal: Visual consistency in your pitch deck is like having a killer Insta feed – it's all about that seamless, on-point vibe! Your slides need to work together and they should all be in the same style, colors, and vibe. That's the key! Keep fonts, colors, and design elements consistent throughout your deck. It's like giving your audience a smooth ride through your presentation, no bumpy transitions!

When your slides flow together like your favorite playlist, it creates this rad, professional look that screams "We know what we're doing!" So, stick to the same visual groove, and watch your pitch deck steal the show!

Tip #3: Simplicity, Clarity and Communicating Effectively

Keeping it simple and clear in your pitch deck is like sending a text instead of writing a novel – it's all about cutting out the fluff and getting straight to the good stuff! Think bite-sized info, catchy headlines, and easy-to-digest points that don't leave your audience scratching their heads. You want your slides to be as crystal-clear as those step-by-step cooking videos – no confusion, just straightforward words and facts! When you keep it simple, it's like speaking your audience's language, and that's what makes your pitch hit home.

Re-read your pitch deck content from start to finish. Then, give it to your friends from other industries. Ask them questions and hear them out. Try to understand if they connected the dots. That’s one of the best ways to work on simplicity and clarity of your content and how well did you communicate it.

When your message is unambiguous and easily comprehensible, it reduces the chances of misinterpretation or misunderstanding. Clear communication eliminates potential roadblocks, allowing your audience to follow your narrative effortlessly. So, leave out the jargon, trim down those bullet points, and let your ideas shine through loud and clear!

Tip #4: Use Images, Charts and Visuals to Present Complex Information

Integrating captivating graphics and imagery into your pitch deck is like adding sparkles to a boring room—it's all about grabbing attention and leaving a lasting impression!

Imagine your slides as a visual storybook, where every image, chart, or graph is a plot twist that keeps your audience hooked. Engaging visuals aren't just eye candy; they're the secret sauce that adds flavor to your ideas. Infuse your slides with relatable graphics or visuals that speak louder than words and bring your concepts to life.

Human brains are wired to process visuals more effectively than text. Incorporating engaging graphics enhances the audience's ability to remember and retain information presented in your pitch deck.

You’ll have to include a lot of numbers and different stats. Some slides are going to be text-heavy. Break the monotony of that by adding visuals that immediately attract attention and make your pitch deck visually appealing.

Images, charts, infographics, and other visual elements help convey complex information in a simplified and more understandable manner. Visuals can clarify concepts, statistics, or processes that might otherwise be challenging to explain using words alone.

Example of visually driven slide on my Lumio Pitch Deck

Tip #5: Typography and Legibility

Typography plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of a pitch deck. Choosing the right fonts, font sizes, and styles contributes significantly to the overall readability and comprehension of your content. Opting for clear, legible fonts ensures that your audience can easily read and understand the text without straining their eyes.

It's essential to maintain consistency in typography throughout the deck to create a cohesive and professional appearance. It’s recommended to stick to only one typography choice. This will depend on your brand and guidelines, but you should probably not combine more than two.

Sans-serif typefaces are preferred for pitch decks. Those are the ones that look modern and don’t have decorative lines on the letters, for those that are confused with the differences. When they are typed out in smaller sizes, sans-serifs look better and more legible. Examples of those that you can’t go wrong with for your first pitch deck are Inter, Open Sans, DM Sans or Plus Jakarta Sans - which I used on my Lumio pitch deck. Also, all of these you can find on Google Fonts for free.

Besides typeface choice, using appropriate font sizes and spacing ensures that the text remains readable even from a distance, allowing your audience to focus on your message rather than struggling to decipher small or crowded text.

Text-heavy slide showcasing business model and two typeface pairings - sans-serif and mono

Tip #6: Color Palette and Using Colors Strategically

Your color palette is your visual voice, setting the tone and guiding the audience's perception. Using colors strategically can significantly impact how your content is perceived.

From the primary hues dominating the majority of your slides to the accent colors highlighting key elements, each shade plays a role. Using a harmonious and consistent color scheme not only enhances visual appeal but also aids in brand recognition.

There is a general 60-30-10 rule which you can use for crafting color combos that are eye-catching and balanced. This rule is used across product and web design, but you can definitely apply it to your pitch deck design, too. Here's the thing: you pick one color, usually something neutral or laid-back, to dominate 60% of your palette. Then, there's another color that complements it, making up 30% of the vibe. Finally, you insert a third color, which is your brand or accent color, giving that extra to about 10% of your design.

This rule isn't just about playing it safe; it's about pushing boundaries without going overboard. It's your ticket to spice up a design while staying true to what's expected in your industry or brand. Tossing in a splash of unexpected color can turn a typical design into something that screams your brand's vibe.

If you’re not able to use the colors you wish and feel limited to the brand guidelines, be sure that there are some ways to twist things a bit. If your neutrals aren’t fitting the background of your slides, try to use darker shades of that color if you’re aiming for a dark vibe. Vice versa, use lighter tints that are almost white if you aim for light presentation slides.

The main thing with the color is to find the right balance and use the purposefully. Don’t mix them too much. Use accent color subtly and only on the elements that really deserve the most attention. Opting for one or two primary colors for your backgrounds throughout the entire pitch deck promotes visual consistency and harmony, presenting a unified visual narrative. This consistency not only reinforces your brand identity but also aids in maintaining a professional and polished appearance. Ensuring a high contrast between text and background colors is crucial to guarantee readability, preventing strain on the audience's eyes and ensuring that your message is easily comprehensible. By adhering to these principles of color usage, you can amplify the effectiveness of your pitch deck, making it visually appealing while maintaining clarity and coherence.

Moreover, considering color psychology in your palette choices allows you to evoke specific emotions or convey particular messages subtly. This can’t be done with an existing brand and guidelines, but if you’re starting from scratch then take this into account.

Tip #7: Use Animations Sparingly (if you use any)

Think of them as the spice to your presentation—adding just the right amount can make your points pop without stealing the show. When used sparingly and purposefully, animations or effects can draw attention to crucial elements, emphasizing key points or data, and keeping your audience engaged.

The trick is to strike a balance, enhancing the visual appeal without overshadowing your content. Subtle animations or transitions can create a polished and professional look, guiding your audience's focus without becoming a distraction.

Ultimately, the goal is to elevate your presentation subtly, ensuring that your message remains the star of the show while adding that extra flair to captivate your audience.

There are thousnds of winning pitch decks that raised millions of dollars and didn’t even use the animation part. It’s not crucial, but it can enrich your presentation and draw attention to crucial elements if used purposefully.

Tip #8: Don’t Go Overboard with Slides

When it comes to crafting your pitch deck, less can often be more. It's tempting to bombard your audience with slide after slide, but the key is to avoid overwhelming them. Quality triumphs over quantity in this realm. Instead of an exhaustive number of slides, focus on curating a concise and impactful story. A leaner pitch deck not only maintains your audience's attention but also ensures that each slide holds significant value.

Aim for a well-paced presentation, allowing time for discussion and interaction rather than drowning your audience in information. By refraining from going overboard with slides, you maintain clarity, engage your audience more effectively, and leave a lasting impression with a streamlined and focused pitch deck.

There is also a 10/20/30 rule for pitch decks, popularized by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki. It is a guideline suggesting the optimal structure for a successful presentation. It recommends that a pitch deck should contain no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes, and use a font size of at least 30 points. This rule ensures that presentations are concise and to the point. Limiting the number of slides forces presenters to focus on the most critical aspects of their business or idea, keeping the audience engaged and preventing information overload. The 20-minute timeframe aligns with most people's attention spans, promoting a well-paced and impactful presentation. Additionally, using a minimum font size of 30 points ensures readability and prevents overcrowding slides with excessive information, just as I mentioned before on Tip #5.

Let’s wrap up

The core of a successful pitch deck lies in striking a balance between information and engagement. It's about crafting a cohesive narrative that effortlessly blends key elements, captivating attention, and inciting the desired action. Crafting this narrative means simplifying complex concepts into a storyline that's smooth, engaging, and crystal clear—like explaining ideas to a best friend.

A seamless flow is crucial. Every slide should connect effortlessly, guiding the audience through a compelling journey. Visuals act as the secret sauce, elevating the pitch from ordinary to unforgettable, engaging, and memorable.

Feel free to use the already established rules for colors, like 60/30/10 rule. Besides that, utilize the 10/20/30 rule that’s advocating for no more than 10 slides in a 20-minute pitch using a font size of at least 30 points. It's a directive toward focus, ensuring that the presentation remains concise, impactful, and attuned to the audience's attention span.

In a nutshell, nailing that story in your pitch deck is all about making your idea the hero. Keep it simple, keep it engaging, and watch your audience cheer for your awesome solution to tackle those irritating problems!

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