As every startup will tell you, trying to fund-raise is incredibly stressful and time consuming. Having the knack to curate a ‘pitch perfect’ pitch deck is one of the main weapons you can have in your arsenal, but so many get it wrong.

Be they overlong, not enough detail, too forced or too light-hearted, a poor pitch deck will ensure that investor funds will be placed elsewhere despite your best efforts.

Confidence is key when pitching to the room too. You can turn off investors within 10 seconds of opening your mouth if your projection is all wrong. Believe in yourself, in your ability and in the company’s ability to deliver a decent return on any investment.

Ensuring that you hit an investors sweet spot isn’t rocket science but there are a few do’s and don’t’s to bear in mind, as well as some ‘must have’ slides to form part of your pitch deck and really engage your audience. Let’s take a look at what they are:

Do

Although you want to ensure that the visuals to accompany your pitch are informative, you don’t want to make them too ‘busy.’ Equally, too bland will shift the investors focus. Make each slide that you use interesting by lightly blending a graphic or two in with the message that you wish to convey, though keep the fonts uniform throughout the deck.

If you’re really on your game, you might already have decided to pdf the pitch deck to potential investors. They’ll know what’s coming but will focus on you and the delivery of your presentation. How well you know your product and where it sits in the market place is the sort of imperative information that you need to convey in clear and concise language.

The narrative that you weave throughout your presentation needs to be memorable. Remember that investors will listen to a huge number of pitches before deciding where to place their funds. If the pitch is wishy-washy without enough detail or information, ask yourself; would I invest in this person/company?

Any pitch should ‘build.’ Imagine you’re in a running race. The aim is to start well, get stronger through the mid-point before exploding at the end. Begin your presentation with an anecdote or two to hold the attention of the audience, and now that you’re holding court, keep the intensity of pitch and delivery of information at the same level.

Don’t give anyone the opportunity of zoning out. If you’ve already had customers interested in your product, say so. It enhances your standing in the room as potential investors will realise they may not just be taking a punt on an idea – which many would be loathe to do in any event.

As you reach the final part of the pitch, pick up the pace just a little and give the potential investors what they want to hear (eg convince them of the market opportunity) but, importantly leave them wanting more. Invite further interaction and discussion as this will give you an extra opportunity to seal the deal.

Don’t

Pitching to a room full of potential investors is arguably going to be one of the best chances you’ll have of financing your startup. Don’t overthink things ahead of the ‘big day.’ Pre-match nerves, for want of a better phrase, will kill your pitch stone dead. The knowledge you have on your product is second to none, so impart that knowledge. Your belief in the product won’t come across well if you’re timid, nervous or edgy.

There’s no need at this point to provide excessive financial detail. Although your deck should be comprehensive enough to create interest, equally, you don’t want everything to be placed in the pitch deck. That’s because you will have the opportunity to talk about relevant and key information in your presentation.

To that end, use a maximum of 15 slides, more preferably 10-12, and don’t use technical language unless it’s absolutely necessary. Investment will not be forthcoming if an investor doesn’t fully and immediately understand what it is he/she is potentially buying into.

Don’t allow the pitch deck to get stale, both in look and tone. Every few months, spend some time and look over the deck. Does anything need updating, has the status quo changed at all, are the graphics still relevant etc. These and other questions need to be addressed well in advance of further presentations, which could be months apart.

Finally, do not, under any circumstances, belittle the competition. Not only is it tacky as hell, but if your product stands alone, there’s little need to turn things into a bun fight. Anyone interested in furthering the conversation with you can pick apart this detail as well as any others as necessary.

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