Toward a Heuristic for Teaching the Visual Rhetoric of Pitch Decks: A Pedagogical Approach in Entrepreneurship Communication

by Sean Williams, Clay Spinuzzi, and Curtis Newbold
This study examined how three successful entrepreneurs/investors assessed the visual rhetoric of actual pitch decks from novice entrepreneurs. We compare their evaluations to the result of a heuristic for assessing visual rhetoric, Color CRAYONTIP. While the pitch deck is recognized as a key artifact in entrepreneurship, no studies have specifically addressed the visual design of the deck nor the key design skills novice entrepreneurs should implement to effectively persuade potential investors of the idea’s promise. This preliminary and exploratory case study begins a dialogue on this topic by performing a visual analysis of seven novice decks which were deemed successful by experienced angel investors. The analysis revealed five key skills that appear to account for the success of these decks with the reviewers: rhetorical awareness, typography, color, photography, and contrast.

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