Promotion isn’t something that comes natural to most people, especially when it comes to promoting yourself. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it. Once you land the opportunity to pitch your work to an agency or brand, it can feel like a ton of pressure. We’ve got you. Here are the basics of putting a pitch deck together so you can present your work with confidence and ease.
Understand the Context of Your Pitch Deck
You got the meeting. Congrats! The first step in preparing your pitch deck is finding out who will be in the meeting and what each of their roles and responsibilities are. You want to figure out what each person coming to the table is hoping to get out of working with you. Spend time researching each person’s career trajectory. This isn’t purposeless stalking – this information will help you understand what their perspectives are, thereby helping you shape your pitch strategy and your deck. You’re trying to figure out what the person you’re pitching to is looking for, what they’re going to struggle with, what their concerns will inevitably be. Once you’re able to figure this out, you can better plan to address them and be prepared when they come up.
The complexity of your pitch deck will depend on the purpose of the meeting. If you’re heading in to present the idea for the first time, you may want to lessen up on the reigns and offer less detailed information. If you’re presenting phase one of an already agreed upon campaign, this would require more specificity. Take time to consider where you are in the process. Earlier in the process means you’ll want to focus on broad strokes; while later in the process means you’ll be drilling down more into the nuts and bolts.
Introduce The Challenge in Your Pitch Deck
Unless the client or agency specifically asked to skip over this section, it’s always a good idea to present the main problem or challenge. The word challenge is preferred to problem in business settings because it has a positive connotation as compared to the latter. The challenge slide should be where your formal presentation starts. Here, you will lay out what the agency or client is trying to solve by having you come in and present your idea or solution. This section doesn’t need to be more than one slide. The focus here should be on answering the following: What’s the problem? How is it proven? Who is affected and how?
Propose Your Solution
This is where you present your big idea. Again, depending on where you are in the pitching or onboarding process, your project scope may be more or less detailed. If this is the first meeting, keep it very high level. Visually layout what your concept includes within your pitch deck. If there are three stages, present all three from a broad perspective. If it’s a one-time event, outline the key details, like a concept, location, partners, support, etc.
If your solution is a digital application or game, present the concept, show the steps and how it works. Whatever it is that you’re presenting, your solution slide is meant to show how what you’re offering solves the presented challenge in the best way possible. Show why you’re unique and unlike other solutions out there.
Include a Case Study
Here is where you want to show that you are a responsible person to work with and that you excel at the type of work you’re aiming to get. If you’ve done this work before and it was successful, you’ll want to show the agency or brand that you’re capable of. Your previous work doesn’t’ need to be exactly what you’re pitching now, but it would be good to show work that’s required a similar set of skills. If you’re pitching an event, show another event. If you’re pitching an experiential painting series, show other creative partnerships you’ve worked on with other brands and how they were successful. If you don’t have past relevant work, that’s okay. If you make a list of three attributes that would get this project off and running, you can likely come up with other work that has used those attributes before. If you don’t have other brand work, use past work that could be incorporated now.
Detail Your Action Plan
This slide could be one or two just depending on how much you have to present. This section goes over in detail how you get the solution from slide 2 done. This pitch deck slide has the most detail about how it’ll happen. You will want to include any operational and marketing/pr partnerships on this slide. Layout all the important players and show what their roles will be. Depending on timing, it may be wise to include an overall schedule and timeline for how these things will come together to make it successful. If planning and production will run over multiple weeks or months, mock up a schedule and use color-coding to present what’s happening when. This is useful when trying to show overlapping efforts across timelines.
Tip: Your previous work doesn’t need to be exactly what’s in your pitch deck, but show work that is relevant in skills and context.
Define Financials and Payment Schedules
The level of detail you’ll need to go into regarding cost really depends on your product, service or project. If you have one singular product and it has one set price, then you should include it. If you do include price, make sure you’ve worked out what markup to the agency or client will be. Work out the increase in percentage as you put together the financial slide. If your services have multiple tiers, make sure to include all tiers on this slide. You don’t need to go into granular, hourly pricing here. This is a place to sum up the total costs of the project phases. You may also want to include a payment schedule. A payment schedule shows the client how payment would be received across time.
Tip: If you have one singular product and it has one set price, include it in your pitch deck. Make sure you’ve worked out what the markup to the agency or client will be.
Outline Next Steps
Apart from the solution slide, this is the most important part of your pitch deck. This slide sets the stage for what’s going to happen after the meeting. On this slide, you’ll lay out the next steps as you see fit for each party. If you are involved in the project already, you may know what these would be. If you’re pitching a new project, include a slide that just says next steps. It doesn’t need to say any more than that. This does something powerful: It primes the audience to begin a discussion. Take the lead and ask what they view as next steps. It could include setting a decision deadline or making a list of follow-ups to share back.
The exact contents of your pitch deck will, of course, depend on your project, but these six slides should serve as a useful, basic template for a deck of any nature. You may need to expand one slide to two depending on the complexity of the work, but as long as you begin with the problem and present a solution, you’re ahead of many others. And finally, remember Dale Carnegie’s advice, “the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”
What’s your advice for creating a pitch deck that hits it out of the park?
Rachel Wells is a writer based in Nashville, TN. In addition to her writing, she has a professional background in content development, digital distribution and public relations. Her projects and clients have been featured in the The New York Times, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine and Pitchfork.