If You Don’t Do These 3 Things Your Startup’s Pitch Deck Will Fall Flat On Its Face …

I’ve often written about the hardships of startup entrepreneurship both here on LinkedIn and on my own blog, but few tasks are as tough to tackle as one in particular — constructing a winning pitch deck to attract precious capital to take your business to the next level. If you’ve done this before, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Think back a bit — do you remember the last time you were left alone in front of a group of venture capitalists, clicking through slides en route to what you’d hoped would end with more money for your business? Needless to say, it’s a daunting endeavor. But here’s the thing — it doesn’t have to be this way.

Having spent much of my 20-year sales and recruiting career working with and around startups, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about the key elements of a successful pitch deck. But the best part? These aren’t my ideas — they’re those of the very investors whose trust and pocketbooks you’re hoping to gain access to.

So, with all of this in mind, are you content to blindly build generic pitch decks to boost your business? You’re not alone — most startups do the same thing. Because of it, within a few years, they’re long gone. On the flip side of things, however, if you want to make the most of your startup’s next pitch deck, keep reading — below, you’ll find three extremely important tips:

1) The Absolute Importance of Your First Slide

Investor time is precious time. As such, they don’t have time for the first few slides nearly all pitch decks contain — a table of contents and meeting agenda. Your most prized investors aren’t accustomed to waiting for what they want — the sooner you can show them the “good stuff,” the better of you’ll be.

As such, make your first slide the best in your pitch deck. Use simple, declarative statements and strong action verbs. Though you might feel the need to spruce things up with an array of images, colorful language and humor, cut through the fluff and get straight to the numbers behind your business. For most investors, this is when they’ll start listening.

2) Ask Investor Questions Before They Do

Whether it be traffic school, sales training or high school, every instructor loves to inadvertently play a game of Can You Read My Mind? every now and again. Questions are asked by instructors, but unbeknownst to participants, there’s one specific answer that’s being sought out. Once the right response is provided, the person in charge is pleased and a lesson resumes.

When pitching investors, there’s a bit of a role reversal with the game. Yes, you’re the one who’s providing the instruction, but control of the situation is 100% in the hands of your audience. As such, they’ll be the ones asking the majority of the questions. Needless to say, it’s in your best interest to promptly respond with the right answers. That’s right — you need to read their minds.

If you want to make the most of this lesson, however, answer your investors’ questionsbefore they’ve even had the chance to ask them. Better yet, build the entirety of your pitch deck around them. Though by no means a comprehensive list, the following are a few hard-nosed questions your investors will expect to have answered through real, quantitative data:

  • What are your company’s biggest assets?
  • What’s the market you’re targeting look like?
  • To date, what have you and your team been able to accomplish?
  • As far as protection is concerned, what’s your business looking like?
  • Who are your fiercest competitors? How are you any different from them?
  • What is your go to market strategy, how will you scale and with the requested investment how will all parties win?

Once again, these are only a handful of examples. Knowing that a pitch deck’s presentation should rarely come with more than a dozen takeaways that take roughly 20 minutes to present, put yourself in the place of your audience and adjust your pitch deck accordingly. Do your homework, research your investors, companies that have benefitted from their funds, network with them to understand the critical points to be ready to address and it will pay off.

3) Remember — Less Is More

This is one of those big marketing adages that’s been around forever. That said, due to the phrase’s longevity, we can only conclude that there must actually be something here — less really IS more. When determining the number of slides you’ll use during your pitch, this is incredibly true. In fact, unbeknownst to most, you can do the whole thing in roughly four slides:

  • Slide #1 — Present the core idea behind your new business and how it solves a problem.
  • Slide #2 — Display a list of five to seven unique strategies as to how you plan to grow.
  • Slide #3 — Next, showcase between five and seven of your most important assets.
  • Slide #4 — Here, re-tell the entirety of your presentation in numbers.

By no means am I saying that you should use only four slides, but when push comes to shove, succinctness should always receive the vote of confidence it rightfully deserves. Your pitch deck will perform more effectively, and investors will thank you.

Conclusion

Making a great pitch deck can be scary. Fortunately, armed with the right mindset and a few insider tips, you and your pitch deck are much more likely to develop the rapport with investors you need to quickly grow your business.

I’ve said my piece; the time is now yours to chime in! I want to know what you’ve done in the past to prepare incredible pitch decks. Or, if you have experience as an investor, your comments on what pitch decks need to attract investors would greatly be appreciated. Below, feel free to share your thoughts and feelings with me. As always, thanks for reading!

  • Image Credits:
  • Featured Image, Pexels

Note: This post was originally published on Linkedin

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