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The Consulting Pitch Deck Mistakes You Must Avoid

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November 29, 2021
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5 minutes
Lynn's diverse perspectives on business stem from her extensive experience as a management consultant - her role as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother adds further depth to her insights.

A consulting Pitch deck or consulting PowerPoint presentation is your pitch to a potential client.

Unfortunately, presentation mistakes can cost you the business you are pitching for.

Here are four tips to help you avoid mistakes and improve your hit rate.

  • Amateurism is a no-no
  • Do your homework
  • Tell a story
  • Have a call to action

Amateurism Is a Consulting Pitch Deck No-No

Even if this is your first-ever consulting PowerPoint presentation, there is no excuse for amateurism.

Design Matters

Consultants should perhaps learn from professionals designing websites. They are concerned about both UX and UI design.

  • UX is about user experience. How does the user feel, and how easily can they achieve their goals?
  • UI is about look and feel and interactivity elements.

Consultants should ask themselves about the goals of the audience. Do they want a general introduction, specific solutions to their problems, or information about who you are? How well is the presentation delivering what they want?

It’s essential to put yourself in the shoes of an audience seeing information for the first time, and ask,

  • Can everyone see the slides – are fonts large enough, and is the page simple enough?
  • Are the most important elements obvious?
  • How much clutter is there?

Lilly Walters puts it like this, "The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives."

If you have a critical pitch, it might be worth spending a few hundred dollars on a professional graphic designer.

Short And Sweet Works

One of the presentation mistakes is to have a deck that is too long or too detailed.

The thumb rule is that 15 slides are enough for a pitch deck. Anything more makes you look unfocused. This forces you to identify the critical elements and present them concisely, without fluff.

Infographics, charts, photographs, and even video clips are helpful, provided you know exactly why each one is included.

"The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives." - Lilly Walters, author of Speak and Grow Rich

Do Your Homework

A consulting PowerPoint presentation is not just about content. The context is equally important.

Only Present to Those Who Are Interested

The most brilliant presentation is lost on those who don’t need the service.

Before you present your pitch deck, do thorough research on the audience.

  • What is their previous history of using consultants?
  • What specific problem in their business could you address?
  • Who are the change drivers?
  • Are there any similarities between your experiences and theirs?

Be Prepared for Questions

The good news is your audience asks questions if they have connected with your presentation. But they want immediate answers.

Expect questions about your team, project management, the market opportunity, as well as your financials and key metrics. If you promise high returns, be ready to explain the factors you have considered.

Also acknowledge the strengths of your competitors and show how you match up.

It’s a good idea to run your presentation past friends or colleagues to see what questions they ask.

Let Your Presentation Tell A Story

People remember a story, not a dry list of statistics.

There are techniques, and you will need to practice them. But here are some ideas.

The Whole Presentation As A Story

You want the audience to engage and go on a journey with you in their imaginations. So when you are planning your presentation, try to think how you would tell it as a story.

Perhaps you can introduce a “hero figure” to take through the presentation. For example, “This is Annah, a hard-working but overworked CEO, trying to [describe the problem].” Then tell the story of how the hero faced challenges (the details of the problem) and eventually overcame them (your solution).

Stories Within The Presentation

Alternatively, you can add some elements of storytelling into the presentation.

You might tell the story of how you helped another client. Or you can share your own experience of how you overcame a failure or came up with the solution you are proposing. This personalizes the presentation and gets the audience to know and like you. The rules are to make sure that:

  • The story is relevant and preferably fun
  • It is authentic
  • It is short (2 minutes maximum), and
  • You are enthusiastic while you’re telling it

The most crucial part of any presentation is getting the audience to agree that the problem you are describing is their problem too. Then it’s easier for them to agree to your solution.

Add a Call to Action to Your Consulting Pitch Deck

A presentation mistake is to end triumphantly with everything you can do and not tell the audience what they should do. So, remember to add a call to action (CTA).

Types Of Calls To Action

If you want your message to be clear, use only one type of CTA in a presentation:

  • Change: You want your audience to think differently or adopt a new methodology or idea
  • Stop: You want your audience to stop doing something – for example, using manual instead of digital systems
  • Deter or discourage: You want to persuade your audience to not start something
  • Continue: You want the audience to keep doing something – e.g., using your services or funding a project

How To Make A Powerful Call To Action

Let’s assume you want the audience to trial your new digital product. Your CTA might look like this:

To access a 7-day free trial of [wonderful product]

  1. Login to [website]
  2. Enter your email
  3. Press download

This CTA is a call to change and demonstrates a few tips:

  • Be clear and specific. Make the CTA short and add data - e.g., the website address
  • Ask the audience to act quickly. Here, they have 7 days.
  • Offer a reward (a free trial) because everyone is asking, What’s in it for me?
  • Make the CTA easy to do. You want them to buy your new digital product, and you are giving them an easy first step.
  • Always add the CTA to your consulting pitch deck. Make sure the font is large enough and that there is plenty of white space around it.

A critical point is that although your CTA may be the last slide (don’t add a thank-you slide after it), it must be framed in the context of benefit to the audience.

So, you might have an introductory sentence on the slide:

“[Wonderful product] will give you an extra three hours on every working day.”

Key Takeaways for Your Consulting Pitch Deck

Professional techniques will help you develop powerful consulting pitch decks and avoid presentation mistakes.

Make sure that the presentation itself looks professional and addresses the goals of the audience. Then do your homework, learn to tell a story, and add a clear call to action.

Try these tips and see what effect they have on your next consulting PowerPoint presentation!