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How To Create A Winning Consulting Pitch Deck - 10 Do's and Dont's

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August 28, 2020
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5 minutes
Bernadette Geyer
Bernadette enjoys working with innovative companies to help them communicate their value to a global audience. She's an avid ice hockey fan and balcony gardener.

As a freelance consultant, you only get one chance to make a first impression on a potential client. Even if you’ve worked on dozens of pitch decks in the past, it never hurts to review the basics needed for a successful pitch that will win consulting projects.

If you’re a freelancer using our online consultant platform to find projects to work on. Here, are some do’s and dont’s to help you create your PowerPoint presentation in advance of the big pitch day.

Do: Stay Concise

When you are pitching on a consulting project, keep in mind that you most likely are not the only pitch the client will listen to. Your audience will not have a lot of time. He doesn't have time for a rambling presentation with 30-40 slides detailing all the research you’ve done or all your past experiences. While you might feel like you need to pack a lot into your presentation. Including a lot of information in your pitch deck won't make your pitch more persuasive.

Don’t: Go Longer than 10 Slides

Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva, has become well-known for his 10/20/30 rule for presentations. According to Kawasaki, the presentation should not have more than 10 slides. It should not be no longer than 20 minutes in duration. And should use a font size of 30 points or more so that your audience can easily read any text. Keep in mind that with 10 slides and 20 minutes to present, this amounts to spending an average of just two minutes on each slide. We’ll talk more about slide content later.

“A PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.” – Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva

Do: Demonstrate You’ve Done Your Research

If you are pitching to a potential consulting client, you’ll want your pitch deck to first show that you understand the client’s needs and the goal of their project. Second, it’s important to demonstrate that you are also aware of what’s been done in the past (if anything) by your client or by other companies with similar projects. Third, your pitch deck should convey the skills you bring in order to ensure a successful project.

Don’t: Use Jargon and Acronyms

Be very careful to avoid using jargon and acronyms in your pitch deck. No one wants to look at a slide full of “alphabet soup” – multiple acronyms that the audience has to decipher for themselves if they’re not used to those abbreviations.

Industry jargon – meaning highly technical terminology – is also something to avoid. Many professionals use jargon and confusing terms simply to make themselves sound smarter, but they end up sounding very robotic and snobbish. Be authentic. Use easy-to-understand language that shows you truly recognize the client’s needs.

Do: Tell a Story

When you are pitching on a consulting project, the potential client wants to see the person behind the pitch. Tell a story (but remember to keep it brief) about your past experiences and how those make you uniquely qualified to work on this particular project. Or, tell a story about the journey you’ve taken in your career that led to you showcasing your skills through a freelance consulting platform. Stories like these build trust with a potential client – and people are more likely to want to work with people they trust.

Don’t: Forget Photos and Graphics

No one wants to watch a presentation that is simply someone standing and reading paragraphs of text on a bunch of slides. Most times, the people you are presenting to will be reading the text on the slides instead of paying attention to what you are saying. Photos and graphics can liven up your presentation by visually representing or complementing the concept you are talking about – without being as distracting as text.

Do: Include a Slide about the Financials

The financial slide is an important part of any pitch deck – whether you’re pitching to an investor or a potential consulting client. Investors want to know whether a company has really thought about all the potential expenses, as well as all the expected streams of revenues.

When you’re pitching a potential consulting client, he will want to know up front what the estimated cost of the project will be. You are not going to win consulting projects by using sleezy sales tactics, such as scribbling your cost on a piece of paper. And sliding it face down across the table to your client with a sly smile (yes, I have seen this done!).

Don’t: Obsess over the Financial Slide

Potential consulting clients will want to understand what is included within the proposed fees for your offer. They don’t want to be surprised by a lot of surprise costs that are tacked on at the end of the project. That said, the financial estimates you include in any pitch deck should not be set in stone. The client should understand that these are estimates. Being transparent about the costs to a potential client is important, but don’t worry about explaining every anticipated fee down to the exact cent.

Do: Be Consistent in Formatting

It’s okay to have different types of slides: some incorporating bullet points, some with photos or graphics, or even some that consist of a single phrase. However, slides should always use the same color scheme and font types. The best practice would be to use your brand colors and fonts in your presentation. If you want to put your name or a logo on every slide in your pitch deck, be sure it is placed in the same spot on each slide.

Don’t: Crowd Your Slides with Info

There is an often-quoted “6 x 6 Rule” that says slides should not have more than 6 bullet points. Each bullet point should contain no more than 6 words. Some design advice even says you should have no more than 6 words on a single slide. That may seem extreme, but the point is valid: Less is more.

When there is a lot of information packed onto a pitch deck slide, your audience will be focused on absorbing all that information, instead of listening to you. As mentioned in the quote above from Guy Kawasaki, your font size should not be less than 30 points. With a font size this large, you definitely won’t be able to fit a lot of text on a slide – especially if you include a photo or graphic.

The Winning Pitch Deck

Putting together a pitch deck that will win consulting projects will be easier if you follow the above do’s and dont’s. As a final piece of advice, remember that the pitch deck should complement your presentation to the potential client. This is what makes it different from simply sending a proposal that they can read at their convenience. If you have managed to secure a meeting to present your pitch, you want to be sure to respect the other person’s time by making the best use of it. That is the basis for a successful pitch deck.