In the entrepreneurial world, pitching has become a lot like playing a college football game. There's a lot on the line, and your blood is pumping. You've practiced over and over again with your team, and now is your time to execute. Each person has their own strategies when it comes to the pitch, but there are some basic rules you should know for your deck.

If pitching is playing football, your pitch deck is your equipment. It's there to help, but it won't make up for a lack of skill. With that said, it's always important to make sure you have a strong deck for your presentation. To have a perfect pitch game, you'll need the right slides to show. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

1. Less is more

When you pitch, you want to generate excitement from your audience. I always try to remember that investors are like goldfish: After a few seconds, they'll forget about me. To prevent this, try opening with a line that brings them in. A common tactic I use is asking two obvious questions that outline the problem, then dropping a line about our solution. Once you do that, your goal is to keep your audience engaged for the rest of your pitch.

The problem is that it's really hard to keep people engaged when you drag your pitch on for too long. One way to stop yourself from doing this is making sure you don't overpack your presentation with slides. Decks should be clean, simple, and help you highlight the major points.

It's easy to think you need to jam your presentation with forecasts and market analysis slides. Unfortunately, many times that'll do more damage than good. Remember that your initial pitch is about getting interest, not closing the deal. The goal should be to get to the second meeting. Bear this in mind when assembling your deck. If you need help on this, use 5slides. It'll force you to tell your story with five beautiful slides that you can put together in minutes.

2. Have a designer build your deck

Some entrepreneurs believe in their pitching abilities so much that they don't care about the deck. Overconfident about their company, they throw their decks together with no care for design. You should not do this. The reasoning behind it in itself is flawed. If you were going to take the time to pitch to investors, why wouldn't you invest in a deck that you could use over and over again? A couple hundred dollars to improve the look of your presentation will be worth it when you close a huge round of funding.

Another reason to focus on your deck is that it shouldn't matter how great your company is. You should always strive to perform at your best. Does LeBron James play basketball in worn-out basketball shoes? No. If you're going to pitch, have a designer go through it. When tight for cash, you can find someone on Odesk or Upwork.com. If you want a less-risky option, go with DeckFoundry.

3. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures

Steve Jobs was arguably the best pitchman ever. He gave some of us goosebumps when he unveiled the iPhone. His pitches excited people to the point that they started shedding tears. While you may not be able to present like Jobs, you can learn a few things from his deck. You'll notice it is primarily picture-based. He only used it to generate excitement, and never relied on his deck to help with what to say. Jobs was known for valuing simplicity in design, and the way he formatted his presentations were no different.

When you're putting your deck together, push for the same simplicity that you see when Apple presents new products. Try to use around 36-point font, and never use sentences. Remember, your pitch deck should just be an aid. It should not be wordy or need anyone to look at it to understand your company. Everyone's eyes should be focused on you. You're the LeBron James of the presentation. Your slides are just your basketball shoes.

Published on: Oct 27, 2014