1. Be persuasive. Your slide deck is a sales document. Design it to persuade, not to inform. If there’s a slide that just informs, give it a spin so it helps you sell.
2. Cater to your audience. Keep in mind the level of knowledge your audience has, and what they really want to know.You are very close to the material, so it’s critical to take a step back, and consider the way our audience looks at the world. Also, make sure every point you make will be of interest to them. One of the books I recommend, Presenting To Win, makes an excellent case for looking at each slide from your audience’s perspective, and asking yourself “so what?” – why will my audience care about this point? That’s a great reality check.
3. Keep it simple. Most of the message should come from your mouth, not from the slides. Use only the words you really need, and keep the visuals simple. Your presentation should provide a roadmap for your pitch, with only the highest-level points laid out. You can fill in details if you sense your audience is interested, or needs clarification. You can also create a printed, leave-behind version of your deck, but don’t hand it out until you are done presenting. Cut out the consultant-speak. Lose the busy charts. Get rid of the corporate logo and contact info on every slide – —once is enough. For more on the benefits of simplicity, read Presentation Zen.
4. Make it brief. Your pitch deck should consist of 12 to– 15 slides. If not for interruptions, it should take you about 20 minutes to deliver. That will leave plenty of time for discussion, and will avoid boring or overloading your audience. Add as many backup slides as you want. You can always drill down on topics once the audience brings them up.