Great ideas don’t fund themselves. No matter how fantastic your product or business plan might be, without an effective pitch, it’s unlikely to make it off the ground.

Many philosophies have been developed around the specific components and order of slides that make up the “perfect pitch.” Most agree that at the minimum, a pitch deck should include:

  • an intro or hook
  • an overview of your team
  • a challenge or problem to be solved
  • a clear solution including key differentiators
  • measurable traction
  • a market overview
  • competitive analysis
  • business model and budget

But in a crowded landscape, the basics aren’t enough to catch the eye of potential investors. Here are a few tips to help take your pitch deck from good to great.

1. Keep it simple.

This doesn’t mean your idea has to be simple, but that it needs to be communicated in a clear, concise way. As you start to plan out your deck, limit yourself to one topic per slide. Avoid using too much text or too many bullet points; instead stick to keywords, numbers, and graphics. Remember, you should be providing the bulk of the information orally. The point of the deck is to highlight what you’re saying, not the other way around.

Keep in mind part of simplicity is brevity. Potential investors may ask for specific time allotment, but in general, the shorter the better. Even with the most compelling content, the average attention span is limited to about ten slides and the average pitch deck is around nineteen — so prepare your presentation with this in mind.

2. Make a strong first impression.

Design matters. Just as the outfit you wear and the confidence in your handshake will begin to shape opinions well before your pitch begins, so too will the design of your deck. A mismatched Power Point presentation filled with blurry photos sends a very different message than one that’s been treated with custom colors and animations.

Details like fonts, graphics, color schemes and even transitions not only serve as an introduction to your brand, they provide a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your values: quality, consistency, style and attention to detail. Use it to your advantage!

3. Tell a compelling story.

This is essential, not only for holding the attention of your audience but for structuring your pitch deck. All great stories start with a problem or an obstacle to be overcome. Your pitch should clearly illustrate the pain point that your business or product addresses in very human terms. Putting the challenge into context is a chance to show that you’ve done your research and you understand your target demographic.

From there, you can begin to explain how your product or service solves the customer pain point — and more importantly, what makes it better than the alternatives.

4. Timing is everything.

Even with a great idea, too late or too soon to the market can cause startups to fail. Investors are well aware of this risk.

To address this, you’ll want to dedicate a portion of your deck to emphasize why now is the right time for your solution to reach the market. What trends play in your favor? What does the competition look like? Is there a clear void to be filled? How have customers responded to your business so far? Answering these questions will instill confidence in the validity and momentum of your ideas.

5. Numbers talk.

Ultimately, every business investment boils down to the numbers, so once you’ve explained your vision, don’t delay on diving into the data. Be sure to include metrics on traction, market analysis and growth forecasting, as well as detailed financial models for your proposal. Emphasize your strongest figures and include visuals wherever possible.

Most importantly, make sure you know your data inside and out and be prepared to answer questions. The last thing you want is to be flipping through notes or looking to someone else for answers to routine questions.

6. Keep people at the heart.

Most pitch decks include a brief overview of the presenter, along with their co-founders or leadership team. It can be easy to treat as a formality and simply copy over a LinkedIn bio, but this is a missed opportunity.

Investors know the right people make all the difference in business. Ultimately you need to get people excited about investing in you and your team. Dedicate some time in your pitch deck to highlight what makes you uniquely qualified to succeed in this space. Showcase the holistic talent and experience that will help to differentiate and grow your business. Don’t forget to include contact information and social links to make it easy for interested parties to get in touch.

As with anything else, practice makes perfect when it comes to your pitch so take the time to rehearse and gather feedback from others. With sufficient preparation, passion, and a well-crafted deck at your back, you’ll have everything you need to get potential investors excited about your business.