What not to do in your pitch deck

I get about 1-2 pitch decks a day and it is a matter of great discipline to walk over all the slides and keep your attention span. So before I move on – please keep in mind that investors do not spend hours re-reading your deck. It is more like a one time fast-paced read to understand what you want to do, if it is going to fly, does it fulfill their investment hypothesis and if someone will buy this for $$$. And may be a re-check of a certain slide plus validating some numbers.

Now let’s define what is a pitch deck. You have an idea and have done research. You have a team of friends and/or colleagues who you trust and believe will lead this to success. I hope you also did market validation before quitting your job. Then you put this in 10 slides and include your business model, financial projections, roadmap, competitor landscape. The latter will be repeatedly revised afterwards and highly likely will steer your product in a new direction. So – this is the uncertainty part and investors know it.

Bottom line: make it clear what you want to do and why it should matter for a particular investor.

Now here comes the promised short list of things you should not do in your pitch deck:

  • DO NOT clutter your slides with tons of text and information. Sorry, I just get overwhelmed with different fonts and pics and all the things YOU consider important. You will spot if your slides are too informative if people start asking questions to which you have stated the answers earlier.
  • DO NOT identify huge market and reserve a cut of it while not establishing a link to why this market might belong to you one day.
  • DO NOT miss out what you will do with investors money and how much you need.
  • DO NOT forget your roadmap. This will usually make it clear for an investor if you are realistic about what you do.
  • DO NOT render your competitors impotent. Respect them.
  • DO NOT throw in the face of your investor answers like “You have not read this and that in my deck” when asked about things you apparently have mentioned somewhere. First, it is not polite, second, we do sometimes validate what you say, sometimes we just did not see. We are humans after all.

Looking forward to some more suggestions to add. Just drop me a line in the comments.

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