You know how good you are. You know how investable your business is. You know that of all the pitches your potential investor receives in their inbox every day of every week, your pitch is the one they shouldn’t be able to turn away from. But here’s something that you might not realise. Even if you do realise it, it’s still a formidable obstacle you have to overcome.
80% of angel investors identify as sector agnostic, which means their investment portfolio doesn’t have a specialist focus, and they do not have a bias towards any particular industry or technology. As a result, what you do, the niche you’re in, and the crucial problems your brilliant idea is designed to solve are probably entirely new to them.
That doesn’t make your pitch a fabulous opportunity. It makes it an immediate threat that could lose the investor a lot of money if they make the wrong decision.
That’s yet another reason an effective, carefully thought-through pitch deck design is so essential because it can overcome the distrust and win over the support of even the most reluctant investor.
What makes design so powerful?
We’ve all heard the expression, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’
It’s popularly attributed to an advertising executive called Frederick R. Barnard, who used the phrase in a 1927 issue of the American trade journal ‘Printer’s Ink’. However, it wasn’t Barnard who came up with it; a lot of other famous people got there first. The best known is Napoleon Bonaparte, who actually said, “A good sketch is better than a long speech.”
But, for this article, the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev’s interpretation is probably the aptest. In 1861 he wrote, “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book.”
Design is the final principle of our market leading methodology, The Six Principles of the Perfect Pitch. How you communicate your pitch via your design can easily be the difference between success or failure when you pitch to an investor. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook the first five principles of the perfect pitch because even the most outstanding design is unlikely to win over an investor if you haven’t got all the other pieces in place.
There are three objectives to your pitch that are especially important:
Make the investor believe in you.
Give them a message to be excited about.
Ace your messaging.
Accomplish those, and you’ll break down even the most hardened investor’s reservations.
Outstanding pitch-deck design can do that.
The logical and emotional components of effective design
Your pitch deck design must support, emphasise and re-enforce everything that is written in your pitch. It isn’t a replacement for your words, but by turning your words into pictures, you’ll make your ideas much easier (and quicker) for your investor to absorb and appreciate.
Humans have been expressing themselves visually since the dawn of mankind – through cave painting and etchings, long before we evolved the power of speech. It’s our ‘default setting’ to understand alien ideas and abstract concepts through visual communication and symbolism, especially when those pictures connect with us on an emotional or logical level.
The Scottish engineer and economist William Playfair understood that. Playfair was the first person to use line, area, bar, and pie charts to convey complicated financial information. That’s because he knew it’s much easier for us to logically digest and absorb complex data when it’s in the form of graphs and other visuals.
The famous nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale understood the power of design too. During the Crimean War, she used a graphic that eventually became known as the Rose Diagram to illustrate the causes of soldier mortality in military field hospitals and convince the British Army to fundamentally change its approach to hospital care. As such, she’s considered the first person to use design emotionally as a form of persuasion.
Florence Nightingale and William Playfair are two excellent examples of how design can be used to massively enhance and encourage people’s understanding of new and unusual concepts.
By thinking visually about how to represent the logical and emotional angles in your pitch, intelligent design can shortcut your words by connecting directly with the heart and mind of your investor. A well-considered design is the first thing they’ll notice when they open your pitch. It will demonstrate your authority and give them instant trust in your abilities.
Bypassing the fight or flight instinct
Most importantly, great design will overcome the initial ‘fight or flight’ response that might otherwise have consigned your pitch to the waste bin. It’s human nature to treat everything as a threat unless proven otherwise. The same is true with your investment opportunity.
An investor will make up their mind as to whether or not they wish to invest their time exploring your pitch within 4 seconds. Great design will ensure that the investor has an initial positive response to your pitch, and ensure they read your content. It will also ensure that when they do, they do so in a positive frame of mind and understand the content as intended. As a result, the investor will know you’re an ally, not a threat, and you’ll automatically be ahead of the majority of your competition.