Today, we’ll discuss the opposite: what NOT to include in your pitch deck and some of the most common mistakes first-time founders make in their startup pitch decks.
If you’re preparing an investor pitch deck, make sure never to include these three things:
Live demos: the high-risk move
Live demos might seem like a game-changer, but they are difficult to manage and have significant risks beyond your control.
Challenges extend beyond mere bugs and technical glitches within your product itself; there are so many possible external obstacles, such as unstable or slow internet connections, firewalls, disruptive software updates or notifications, low battery or a lack of monitors or outlets for displays. Investors may also derail a demonstration with questions or unsolicited opinions on branding or UX designs.
An error, however small, can ruin your presentation, tarnish your professional image, and lose the investor’s trust. Go for the tried-and-true approach of using product images and screenshots rather than taking unnecessary risks with a live demo.
Long videos and animations: keep it short
Long videos, especially those that last more than a minute, break up the flow of your pitch and could make potential buyers lose interest. The important thing is to keep people interested and engaged by telling your story through clear pictures, diagrams, and drawings.
Sometimes, a short 30-second video or animation that plays repeatedly can be enough to show off your product and strengthen your pitch without being too much. However, videos can’t be embedded in PDFs and most partners at a VC fund are likely to share decks internally in PDF or print format (even if you don’t send it that way).
Finding the right mix between using too many and too few animations to guide the reader through the journey is essential. When there is too much movement, it can be annoying. You want the people in the room to be focused on you during your presentation, listening to your story and getting to know your business. Too many animations or other distractions can disconnect your audience from your presentation.
Don’t forget that people can only pay attention to one thing at a time. When telling your story, avoid introducing confusing animations that do too much. Your pitch relies on your words and story to foster an emotional link. Cut down on distractions you can control and ensure any moving visuals don’t take away from the main focus.
Use videos & animations only when they are necessary to explain something complicated: most information can be shown with pictures alone, but videos may help with technical concepts like decentralized ledger technology. In these situations, animation helps tell a story and makes complicated ideas easier to understand.
Avoid using too much motion, especially on slides with little information. The goal is to help people understand, not to confuse them. Animation should only be used to draw attention to and explain things. Let your words and story take the lead.
Technical architecture diagrams: keep it simple
When presenting technical architecture, remember that investors prioritize understanding the value proposition and pain points your product solves rather than the intricate technical details behind how it works.
Avoid overwhelming your audience with technical jargon or overly complex diagrams. Much like your customers, your Investors don’t require an intricate understanding of your products mechanics — they just care that it works. What they really want to know is how your product addresses a market demand and what sets it apart from others in terms of appealing to consumers. When explaining your product, simplify your message to ensure it’s easily digestible for someone without technical expertise. Try to explain in terms your grandma or 5-year-old cousin could understand.
Even if your product’s strength lies in its technical intricacies, strive to communicate this information in a straightforward way that resonates with a broader audience.
Other common mistakes
Now that you’re aware of what to exclude from your presentation, let’s discuss some common mistakes to avoid:
One of the most frequent errors is overcrowding your presentation. Following the 10-20-30 rule helps maintain a succinct and impactful pitch. This rule suggests keeping the presentation under 15 – 20 slides, with font sizes no smaller than 30 points, ensuring clarity and brevity.
Not acknowledging market competition
Acknowledging competitors is crucial. Even if your business is pioneering a novel solution, acknowledging existing alternatives demonstrates market awareness and existing customer demand. Highlighting your unique selling proposition against competitors can strengthen your position and appeal to investors or customers.
Ambition is great, but be realistic. Projecting unrealistic market share or financial growth is one sure way to kill investors interest. Aim for achievable milestones — investors appreciate grounded forecasts and milestones that exhibit a well-thought-out strategy.
Inconsistent branding and style
Maintain visual consistency throughout your deck. Too many variations in fonts, colors, or unnecessary clip art can distract from your message. Creating a visually cohesive presentation that aligns with your brand identity fosters professionalism and reinforces your brand’s image.
By steering clear of these common pitfalls, founders can ensure their pitch deck is concise, competitive, and captivating.