5 Things You Should Never Include in a Startup Pitch Deck

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We’ve covered a lot about pitch decks in our blog series. But we won’t make any apologies, we want yours to be as good as it can be. A strong pitch deck is a foot in the door of investment, as long as the idea and the people behind it are solid too! We’ve harped on about what makes a great pitch deck, but what about what makes a terrible one? With that in mind, we decided to look at things the opposite way round this week. What 5 things should you never include in a pitch deck? Read on to find out more…

Too Much Text

Much like the guy who won’t stop talking at that networking event, having too much text in a pitch deck will really put people off. If your pitch deck slides resemble walls of text, take a step back from the computer and stop. Having too much text will make your pitch boring – investors want to hear what you have to say, they don’t want to read a copy and paste business plan. They want to hear you talk about it. Plus, they’ll be able to read what’s on the screen before you have said it. Instead, your deck should be complementary to what you’re saying. So use pictures, graphs and keywords, phrases & numbers to emphasise your points.

Your audience will remember the visuals from your deck rather than any block of text. That graph that shows great traction, the revenue figures that have grown year on year and the diagram that emphasises where you fit in amongst competitors, are the things that will stick in their minds. Utilise visuals to compliment your voice, and you’re one step of the way to a great pitch deck.

Too Many Slides

A good pitch deck is a balanced pitch deck. Across the board, you want a perfect balance of everything, text, pictures, information, data. And of course, this means slides too. All of these things are intertwined. If you have too much text, pictures and data, chances are you’ll have too many slides. We know, it’s tempting to get across as much information as possible, you want to sell your company as best as you can. But sometimes, well ALL the time, less is more. If you’re strict about how many slides you use, you’ll ensure the content within them is important.

At our pitch competitions, we have a strict 5-minute time limit on all pitches. It’s a good round number to stick to, in any setting. It gives you the perfect amount of time to sell your start-up, without being too long and losing the interest of your audience. Sticking to between 10 and 20 slides is a smart decision. And if people your pitching to want more information, you can bet they’ll follow up with you.

No narrative or story

Storytelling really can make all the difference when it comes to pitching. You might have a fantastic idea, a piece of tech that is pioneering and amazing sales figures and traction already. However, if you can’t create a narrative or a story behind your pitch, getting funding may continue to be a difficult task. On the other hand, your idea might not be quite there, but if you can create a strong narrative, it might spur an investor to take a chance on you. Remember, you’re pitching to real people. Human beings, like you and I. 

Human interaction is built on storytelling. Throughout history, stories have been used to form connections between people. Connect the problem and solution with your audience. Create an emotional connection with them, make it difficult to forget what you say, because of the impact it has had. People remember stories, they don’t remember facts. Use storytelling to help engrain facts on your audience. Being a good storyteller can make or break a pitch, so don’t forget about it.

No mention of your competitors

It might, for some people, seem like a wise decision to not mention competitors. You might not want people to know there are similar companies in your space. You want your deck to just talk about you, right? Well, kind of. Yes, your deck is about YOU and your startup, but don’t be afraid of competitors! Having competitors indicates there is a market, so if you genuinely don’t have competitors, you need to think about why.

It will be a warning sign to investors if you have no competition. It might mean the problem you’re solving isn’t important or isn’t as critical as you’ve made out. Use competitors to highlight your uniqueness, the ways in which you perform better and how you do it. Deep dive into them, use a competitor analysis graph to visually indicate where you sit. And if you do have competitors, but you don’t mention them, be warned – investors will find them (because they know how to use the Internet too).

Unrealistic claims and predictions

Stick to the facts. Don’t overestimate facts or figures to the point that your claims become unrealistic and false. Optimism is important – but there’s a line between being optimistic and being unrealistic. Utilising facts that enable investors to understand your business and the market is a much better starting point than utilising falsities to sell a pipe dream. Investors will be more impressed by a business plan that makes sense, rather than one that is so inflated it seems impossible to attain.


Now, there are plenty more things you should never include in a pitch deck, but we are taking our advice and not putting too much text on your screen!  

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