Pitch Deck Design Principles

Just like anything, good design becomes possible for anyone to achieve once they understand a few fundamentals. In this post, I’m going to walk you through my own fundamentals that I use to design pitch decks.

This post will only focus on the design aspect of decks, not what to include, how to pitch, etc. There are already many great resources out there to learn those skills.

I think simplicity is best so I’ve narrowed things down into 4 main principles which each contain a few sub-points within them. With that being said, let’s start with non other than, simplicity.

Simplicity is King

Narrow down to your strongest points. Save the minuscule details for the index.

The more points you try to make, the weaker they will become and the less likely the viewers/listeners are going to give you what you want. I’ve found it helpful to brain dump on each slide, and then slowly narrow down my points until only the strongest ones are left. This way of thinking should directly apply to how you design the slides.

Visuals can help viewers understand complex topics.

Visuals are often far easier to understand than text. You don’t need to be able to read a certain language to understand them.

Often, you can find an icon to represent topics or points. The Noun Project is a great resource to find icons.

Make it Accessible

Left to Right, Top to Bottom

How are most languages formatted when written in a book or an article?

Left to right, top to bottom.

This is the flow that your brain (and 99% of other’s brains) are trained to quickly follow to interpret a new piece of information. Don’t try to fight this. Organize each slide’s content with this in mind.

Left to right, top to bottom

Font Size and Weight Variation

If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this.

Never use a single font size and weight throughout a pitch deck. Get creative, use really large font sizes, use extra bold, use thin, use your brand’s different colors, etc. You can vary your font sizes and weights to make certain things pop out or “fall into a certain category.”

As a general rule, never go below 16px font size font size for any deck. Realistically, you should try to stay at or above 24px.

Font Variation Example

Be Consistent

Guides

Guides help you keep content aligned and consistent throughout your deck. If you don’t know how to use guides, watch the video(s) below:

For reference, I use the following guides in every deck:

  • (A) Vertical and Horizontal Center guides
  • (B) Left and Right edge guides, 0.25" from each side
  • © Top edge guide, 0.25" from top
  • (D) Bottom 1 edge guide, 0.4" from bottom
  • (E) Bottom 2 edge guide, 0.3" from bottom (for aligning a small company logo at the bottom of your slides)
Guide Layout Reference
Guide Layout

Colors and Type

Find the “middle ground” with how you use different colors and type throughout your deck. There is no hard and fast rule here but strive to find the middle ground between always using the same colors, typeface size, typeface weight, etc and always using a different color, typeface size, typeface weight, etc.

The point is to make your content stand out but to still stick to a consistent style which will help the viewer/listener become familiar with your layout.

Keep Versatility in Mind

Design for the Situation

I think there are three different types of pitch decks (for raising $$$ at least):

  1. Pitch Deck: This deck is meant to be pitched with people listening to you live. You are with the listeners so you only have to include the main points on the slides and should use very little text.
  2. Send-able Deck: This deck is meant to be sent to prospective investors without you there to explain things to them in real time. You aren’t there to explain things to investors so you’ll need to do all/most of your explaining on the slides.
  3. Hybrid deck: This deck can either be pitched or sent. Since you are using this deck for both situations, you don’t want too much text on the slides for when you pitch it but you want just enough for when you send it, the viewer can understand the content. Find a happy medium amount of content to include in these types of decks.

Design for the Audience

Is your audience fairly technologically advanced? Do they understand your industry? Etc.

You should always keep in mind who the audience is that will likely hear or see your pitch in order to correctly tailor the amount of detail in the pitch so that they can understand your ideas.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or would like help designing your pitch deck, please reach out to me at hello(at)danstrangfeld.com

Thoughts on design and free tools to help entrepreneurs improve their businesses as well as their daily life. Based in Boulder, CO. https://danstrangfeld.com/