What's a Pitch Deck?
Using PowerPoint to "pitch" your ideas - by Steve Puffenberger, Advent Media, Inc.
I have to confess that until recently I had never heard of the term “pitch deck.” Then we discovered that on the Web it’s the most-searched keyword related to PowerPoint presentations. After looking into it, I learned that I’ve been making “Pitch Decks” for clients over my entire 45+ year career without ever calling it that.
When I started my career in the early 70s, Pitch Decks were a case of overhead transparencies, a tray of slides, a filmstrip, or I can even remember the flannel board. All those old methods were cumbersome, awkward and impossible to use in certain situations, like on an airplane or at a bar. Now that you can put a computer in your pocket, how things have changed!
So, what is a Pitch Deck? It’s simply a series of images (a slide “deck”) to illustrate your “pitch” (your content) that can be conveniently accessed wherever you are on an electronic device. You’ve heard of the “elevator pitch,” where you have 3 minutes in an elevator ride to explain your concept, well with a Pitch Deck, you can pull out your smartphone and have visuals to help make your case on that elevator ride.
Pitch Decks aren’t just for elevators. They can be used anytime you need to sell something – a product, process, or idea. Audiences can range from one person to thousands. From widget sales to TED talks; startup investor offerings to charitable donation appeals; formal bid presentations to business lunches, Pitch Decks can be a valuable tool in achieving your organization’s goals.
Pitch Decks can run on virtually all mobile, laptop or desktop devices, and they can be used anywhere those devices can go - from across a table at a working breakfast, to around the world in a Webinar. They can be ultra-short with just the core of the idea, or they can have dozens of slides, with animations or video, that illustrate processes that are best described visually. And they can be flexible. Using PowerPoint’s advanced features, you can hide the detail, and then seamlessly reveal it when you need to. And because they're computer files, you can put them on your Website so they continue selling when you're not there.
The cool thing about using a Pitch Deck is that it keeps you on message, helping you lay out your case logically with consistency. You can think of it as a stack of note cards, only you’re sharing them with your audience. And not only does it keep you on point, it reinforces what you say with visuals, which improves retention.
So, what makes for a good Pitch Deck? This gets to our “prime directive” at Advent Media, Inc.: Minimize Distractions. For instance, if type turns to mouseprint on a phone and your client has to squint to try to read it, it’s a primary distraction. And if your audience is distracted, they won’t hear what you’re saying. Like everything else we do, we build Pitch Decks around the way - and the place - you plan to use them.
When it comes to making a Pitch Deck, at Advent Media, we’re all-in. It’s not an “upload your file and we’ll make it a pitch deck” machine. We want to talk with you to understand your goals, your budget, and most importantly, your audience. We’ll then apply all our experience in media writing and illustrating to help you state your case, shape your case and sell your case. We can look at your content from the aspect of your audience, and help you organize your presentation to make the most optimal use of the time. We can even coach you in rehearsals.
And if you want to put your pitch deck “in the can,” we can convert it to a LinkedIn SlideShare, or a Pitch Video that you can put on your Website or share via email.
We know this works. Pitch decks we created for a local construction company won them more than $1Billion in sales over a 10-year period.
Talk to us about your next Pitch Deck. You’ll be glad you did.
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BONUS: What the Deck?
I have a porch deck, and I guess if the ground settles it's a pitching porch deck. But that's not a Pitch Deck. We know a "pitch" is what is used to close a sale, but where does "deck" come from?
We first heard the term “slide deck” from Microsoft people talking about PowerPoint files. We thought that odd because back in the day we never called a stack of 35mm slides a “deck,” you always put them in a tray. I believe the analogy comes from playing cards, which come in a “deck.” For generations, nervous presenters have put their notes on cards (which inevitably get shuffled to hilariously disastrous results), so those note cards were considered a “deck.” And because PowerPoint slides resemble note cards that everyone can see, PowerPoint files became known as slide decks. And when they’re used to pitch a product or service, you have a “Pitch Deck.” So now you know.