Pitch Deck Playbook

The pitch deck is your ultimate opportunity to get buy-in on your unique point of view as a business.

Successful pitch decks engage with a story, convince with data, and create excitement through a compelling structure. It needs to be robust yet inspiring to support your needs and set out the world you want to create.

A strong pitch deck is one of your most important communication channels to deliver your message.
A strong pitch deck is one of your most important communication channels to deliver your message.

What is a Pitch Deck and Why Does it Matter?

What makes a good pitch deck? Over the past decade, pitch decks have evolved from PowerPoint slides laden with bullet points to wireframed-to-perfection showpieces guided by narrative storytelling. 

A pitch deck is a high-stakes document. It is usually not updated for several years until the next fundraising round, and when starting to write for your next round one feels like a freshman. This deck is responsible for supporting founders in driving huge value for their companies and a 15-25 slide document can help raise millions of dollars.

In addition to this, a pitch deck’s nature is two-sided. While data is fundamental to any successful pitch, investors are still looking for a story and a product, not just a collection of data points. 

So how do you create a compelling pitch deck, over and over again?

This is an example of effective pitch deck design
A visually-appealing pitch deck with the right information can make a huge difference.

Pitch Deck Fundamentals 

Before diving into writing your pitch, think about your key goal and audience first. A successful pitch prompts your audience to help achieve your goal.

Start with drafting your story arc by focusing on making an effective, action-oriented, snappy pitch. Everyone knows the types of key slides that investors expect to see. But what storytelling principles can tie them together in an effective manner?

  • Get the point across quickly and clearly with inductive reasoning. Open with the conclusion and then explain the details that help an investor believe it’s valid. Barbara Minto wrote The Pyramid Principle - a holy text for writing clearly - “Deductive arguments are boring, primarily because they make a mystery story out of what should be a straightforward point.” Reid Hoffman has a similar point— “Lead with your investment thesis”.

  • If you’re pre-revenue, you’re pitching a concept. You can use analogies in critical places to help investors understand your thinking and your company’s potential.

  • If you’re post-revenue, you’re pitching a company. You can use data to tell a clearer story about your history and give confidence in your direction.

  • Lean on use cases to help people feel the potential impact of your business. People are much more likely to understand and recall a compelling story with a relatable character, conflict, and resolution than they are a banging set of diagrams and data tables.

  • Focus. One business model drives the business.

An overview of different pitch deck types you should have prepared.
Different scenarios need different versions of your pitch deck. This is an overview of the most common types.

Pitch Deck Narrative

As a rule of thumb, some of the key slides in any pitch deck include:

  • Title

  • Problem

  • Solution

  • Product

  • Market and Opportunity Size

  • Competitive Landscape

  • Traction

  • Financials

  • Team and Advisors

However, it is not only about the right slides. Your deck is an opportunity to take investors on a journey. Like any good story, there are key parts or characters you want to introduce to help connect with the reader and help them see the value of what you are offering.

The Protagonist

Identify the users of your product or service and keep their needs at the forefront of your mind. Everything you do as a business is in service to your end user.

Be specific about what your product is, how it works, and its monetization structure.

The Goals of a Protagonist

What problem does your business solve for your audience? Be clear about what this is and don’t complicate it by trying to solve multiple problems at once.

Be specific about who you serve, have specific use cases and examples, and be very clear about how your product or service makes their lives better.

What's at Stake

Here you can create an emotional connection to the audience and the reader. Build the world in which you're operating and why your business matters in this world. You want the reader to believe that without your business the problem can’t be solved.

Be specific about your knowledge of the market, its trends, the competition, and how you compare to them.

The Spark That Leads to Meeting Goals

This is your idea, the reason why your business should matter to the audience and investor. Be sure to connect your idea clearly to meeting the goals of your audience.

Be specific about your team, your unique experience and skills, and any innovations that you have devised to solve the problem.

In our experience, some of the best products can miss out on the deserved opportunities due to flawed pitches. Look out for these fundamental pitfalls when drafting your own:

  • Complexity: Write simply. Paul Graham is a great example to follow. He says: “Fancy writing doesn't just conceal ideas. It can also conceal the lack of them. That's why some people write that way, to conceal the fact that they have nothing to say. Whereas writing simply keeps you honest. If you say nothing simply, it will be obvious to everyone, including you.”

  • Hyperbole: Not everything can be disruptive, turning an industry on its head to level the playing field once and for all. There are so many ways to deliver real value to people with a novel idea. Be real about the value you’re creating, how you’re creating it in a new way, and for whom you’re creating it. Own that clearly and confidently and you’ll create room for yourself. Hyperbole just blends into the noise.

  • Jargon: It’s hard to fall in love with an idea when your eyes have glazed over. Challenge yourself as you develop your pitch deck. Scrutinize where you’re leaning on buzzwords to make more complex points and go through the rigor of unpacking what you really mean. You’ll feel more confident in presenting your idea, and your readers will feel the same.

Once the narrative work is done, make sure to not drop the ball through layout and design that further expands and solidifies your offer.  

"Fancy writing doesn't just conceal ideas. It can also conceal the lack of them."

- Paul Graham

"Fancy writing doesn't just conceal ideas. It can also conceal the lack of them."

- Paul Graham

"Fancy writing doesn't just conceal ideas. It can also conceal the lack of them."

- Paul Graham

Pitch Deck Layout

VC firms get thousands of pitches a year. You’ll have to work extra hard to get noticed if you use the same pitch deck template as 5,000 other presentations. However, there’s no need to fundamentally differentiate yourself structurally. Lack of or misplacement of crucial slides may confuse investors used to a specific slide count, including fundamentals like Problem, Solution, Product, Opportunity size, Competitors, Roadmap, Team, or Funding. 

Instead, be bold and differentiate with your idea.  Although the structure is incredibly important in a pitch deck, successful pitches find the balance between emphasizing the idea throughout and maintaining a structure relatable to investors at the same time.

Keeping your pitch deck layout accessible and consistent throughout your deck helps your audience focus on what’s important:

  • Use one alignment style within your deck: right, left, or center

  • Use slide breaks between sections

  • Place icons and visual elements strategically on your slide to attract attention

Examples of different pitch deck slide types
This is an example of four common slide types you'll need in your pitch deck. This is a great starting place to build a deck that showcases your company.

Less is more when it comes to pitch deck design. Using fewer words and more white space helps to attract attention to what’s important. White space gives your narrative room to “breathe”.

Pitch Deck Design

Design in your deck process should not be an afterthought. It is a powerful tool that helps clarify, amplify and bolden your message. It can also dampen the whole experience.

Pitch deck design when done well amplifies your message, extends your brand, and creates a unified experience, leaving a memorable impression and most importantly, giving your deck a professional feel no matter how early in your growth you are.

Thinking about key design elements before you begin crafting your story will help you set up a more cohesive and easy-to-follow pitch deck:

  • Do not pick colors at random. Seek balance and use color theory tools to help you.

  • Use a limited number of carefully selected images.

  • Do not use more than two clear, readable fonts in your deck (one for titles and one for body copy).

Pitch Deck Format

You will either pitch your startup face-to-face, on a video call, or you’ll be asked to email your pitch deck for the investors to review in their own time. The commitment on the investor’s part is very different in each case. When they agree to an email, they commit to a read-through of your deck, so you can (and should) include more text and more information. When they agree to a video call, they commit to a conversation, so you should keep it light on the text and be prepared to talk.


A pitch deck is a collective of constantly moving parts that evolves and adjusts as you build your business and as you identify the focus of what you’re offering. There is a lot to consider and a lot riding on it. So take your time, work through the details, and map out your flow that delivers all the information you need without clouding your purpose and potential impact with unnecessary noise.  

The more you get your pitch in front of people the more you will learn what connects and what doesn’t. Make pitch writing a collaborative effort if you can, gathering feedback from a range of sources that can help you shape a pitch that is compelling, engaging, and leaves the reader in no doubt of your potential.


How do vision and mission statements impact a company's long-term direction?

Effective vision and mission statements should ideally constitute important tools in formulating a company’s strategy. They should largely remain unchanged through the years, though a significant pivot may bring about new vision and mission statements. Together, they work to define the focus of the business and how it impacts the world. 

The vision statement is a representation of your company’s view of a better world. The mission statement reflects how it sets about to achieve this vision. They work together to create internal alignment and help with strategic decision making. When planning for the future, developing new products, or experimenting with new strategies, teams can perform a quick check against the vision and mission statements to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with the essence of the brand. 

In short, the vision and mission statements are powerful tools which can and should impact decisions across the organizations, making them important factors in a company’s long-term direction.

How does brand strategy influence the overall success of a business?

Your brand strategy reflects how your brand sees the world and its role within it. It is the framework that, ideally, should guide all your communications (both external and internal) and audience touchpoints, i.e. each interaction an audience member has with your business. 

Having standardized communication across all channels and touchpoints makes business processes smoother and positively influences your client relationships, ensuring you develop strong, long-term connections with your customers. It also simplifies strategic decision-making and aligns your team. All these factors are vital to the success of a business.

How do messaging frameworks help communicate your brand message effectively?

Messaging frameworks are structured guides that outline the core messages, value propositions, and differentiators of a brand. They ensure consistency across all communications, from marketing materials and social media posts to customer service interactions. By defining key messages that resonate with the brand's target audiences, messaging frameworks help ensure that a brand’s communications are clear and memorable. 

They also help organizations stay aligned internally and ensure that each member, regardless of their role, understands what the brand’s key message is and how to communicate it effectively. This internal alignment is crucial for presenting a unified brand image to the outside world.

What specific elements contribute to a brand's verbal identity?

A brand’s verbal identity should align your team on how your brand communicates and how this communication changes depending on the situation. It defines a specific and recognizable language through which your brand can deliver its message to your audience or audiences.

Typically, a verbal identity includes some, or all, of the following elements:

Brand personality: This captures the human traits or characteristics that your brand embodies, such as being adventurous, sophisticated, or reliable, which help shape how your brand is perceived.

Brand voice: The brand voice reflects how your brand reflects its personality across all communication channels.

Brand tone: While the brand voice remains consistent, the brand tone can change depending on the context of the message and the audience being addressed, ranging from formal and professional to informal and friendly.

Messaging frameworks: These are strategic tools that outline the key messages your brand intends to communicate to its different target audiences, ensuring that all messaging is aligned with your brand's mission, vision, and value propositions.

Messaging examples: These provide specific examples of how your brand's messaging might be applied in various scenarios.

Style and grammar guidelines: These outline your preferred spelling, grammar, and style, ensuring that your communication is consistent across the board. 

What are some key considerations when developing a tone of voice for a brand?

The first and most important consideration is the brand’s personality. While businesses are functional, they still communicate with people – and people primarily connect with stories and personas. Your brand’s personality will define a set of human characteristics which reflect how it sees itself in the world. By giving your brand these human attributes, you are making it both distinctive and easier to identify with. The tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality.

It’s also important to consider your target market and your audience’s expectations. While having a distinctive tone of voice is important for memorability, there is such a thing as being too different. If all brands in your segment adopt a serious, professional tone, and you would like to be fun and playful, there is certainly space for that, but consider very carefully why you are doing it.


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How does competitive benchmarking influence the development of a visual identity?
Competitive benchmarking is important in developing a brand's visual identity as it provides insights into the market environment. By examining the competition, a brand can better understand its unique value proposition and strengths. This understanding is crucial in identifying what sets the brand apart from others.With this knowledge, a brand can lean into its unique strengths when crafting its visual language. This approach ensures that the visual identity not only looks appealing but also reinforces the brand’s distinct point of view and competitive edge.
How does visual identity differ across industries, and how can a brand ensure it stands out while remaining authentic?
Visual identity varies significantly across industries, shaped by both the industry norms and the unique aspects of each brand. Understanding where your brand stands in the competitive market is essential when crafting a visual identity that both stands out and remains authentic.Industries have distinct visual trends that are often expected by consumers. For instance, financial services brands typically adopt a reserved, traditional look with a color palette dominated by blues and greys. In contrast, skincare brands often go for a lighter, more colorful approach with pastels. Being aware of these industry-specific trends is important because it helps to decide how much your brand should differentiate itself from these norms. This differentiation should be based on your audience's expectations and your brand's unique value propositions.For example, a financial services brand that emphasizes its use of innovative technologies might choose a more digital-oriented visual language. Similarly, a skincare brand that focuses on scientific innovation might benefit from a more science-based visual language.
What are the key considerations when creating visual concepts for a brand?
The visual identity of a brand should quickly and clearly reflect its strategic positioning. Designers begin the process of creating visual concepts by immersing themselves in the brand’s strategy to extract key narrative themes. These themes are then translated into a visual language that employs both emotional and aesthetic elements to communicate the brand's messages. This translation is crucial as it shapes how the audience perceives and interacts with the brand.When developing visual concepts, it's important to make sure they align with the brand's strategy and fit well within the competitive landscape: demonstrating key differentiators, but still fitting into the industry at large. The visuals should also be suitable for the mediums they will be used in. Whether for digital, print, or physical applications, the choice of medium can greatly influence how the visual concepts are designed.
How does visual identity contribute to brand recognition and trustworthiness?
Visual identity is key to boosting brand recognition and trustworthiness, especially in busy markets. When a company maintains a consistent visual brand across different platforms, it becomes easier for customers to recognize and remember it. This consistency is crucial for standing out among competitors.Having a consistent visual identity also shows professionalism and attention to detail. These qualities make customers more likely to trust a brand. When a brand looks the same across all touchpoints, from websites to products and ads, it tells customers the brand is reliable and serious. This builds trust and makes customers more likely to pick this brand over others that may not look as professional or consistent.
How do brand guidelines ensure consistency in visual identity across different platforms?
Brand guidelines are a key tool for maintaining a consistent visual presentation across various platforms. These guidelines typically outline the main use cases where the brand's visual identity will appear and provide comprehensive rules and standards. The guidelines include detailed instructions on how to use the brand’s assets, such as logos, color palettes, typography, and imagery. This ensures that anyone using these assets, whether they're designers, marketers, or external partners, can apply them correctly and consistently. It’s crucial that the entire team is familiar with these guidelines. It’s important to get team buy-in on the visual identity and ensure that the guidelines are easily accessible. When the whole team understands and follows the guidelines, the brand's visual identity remains unified across all touchpoints, enhancing brand recognition and trust.


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