The average investor pitch deck gets better and better (bad news for presentation designers like me). SlideShare, video streams of startup competitions, TED videos, all create examples of good presentations that people can copy.

Five years ago, version 1 would be a horribly looking bullet point document with standard Microsoft Office fonts/colours, full of small low resolution images scraped from Google with their aspect ratios distorted, that is changing.

Many startups have some sort of designer involved, she gets pulled of the web site work to give the slide deck a much needed make over. The result: decent looking slides, decent colour scheme, decent story flow, still lots of bullet point slides, but at least they are written properly, newspaper heading style.

How to push it one more level up?

Focus on the content, not so much on the local and feel which is already pretty OK. Here is a check list of possible mistakes:
  • Think about where to focus your time/slides. Many of these decent presentations spend too much time stating the obvious. Instead go one level deeper: everyone seems to understand the problem, but why is it that in 2014 we sill have not found a solution for it?
  • Add more substance to your competitive differentiation. A simple 2x2 matrix with generic sounding axes is not always enough. Why are these other companies doing something different while it sounds like they do exactly the same thing you do? And why do they do it differently? Very rarely, this will because of stupidity, there is probably another reason these companies focus on a different solution for a different customer segment.
  • Even if your bullet points are short and well-written, remember that as soon as you start listing more than 3-5 benefits/differentiators, the audience will perceive this as no benefits/differentiators. Bla, bla, bla
Good luck!