How do you create an effective executive summary of the pitch deck?
Did you even know that your pitch deck should have an executive summary? Some top entrepreneurs, startup advisors, and dealmakers recommend it. It could be the one piece of the puzzle that you are missing in order to get more investors to say yes and get your next round of funding in the bank.
So, what is an executive summary? How is that different from the executive summary in a traditional business plan? Where does it belong in your flow of slides? How do you make it great, and use it to close more capital?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Here is the content that we will cover in this post. Let’s get started.
- 1. Why You Should Include An Executive Summary In Your Pitch Deck
- 2. Including the Executive Summary Slide in the Pitch Deck
- 3. What Is An Executive Summary?
- 4. Traditional Business Plan Executive Summaries
- 5. Pitch Deck Executive Summaries
- 6. How To Create An Executive Summary Of The Pitch Deck
- 7. Complete Your Full Pitch Deck
- 8. Hire A Professional Copywriter
- 9. What To Avoid In The Executive Summary Of The Pitch Deck
- 10. Where Does It Belong In Your Pitch Deck?
- 11. How To Write An Executive Summary
- 12. Summary
- 13. Company Description
- 14. Market Analysis
- 15. Organization Description
- 16. Management Team
- 17. Product Line
- 18. Marketing Plan
- 19. Funding Request And Use
- 20. Financial Projections
- 21. Summary
Why You Should Include An Executive Summary In Your Pitch Deck
You might not have thought about including an executive summary in your pitch deck yet. However, there are some good reasons for it.
Dave Parker, who has launched five startups of his own, has been involved in more than 15 transactions, and has been an Entrepreneur In Residence for a $250M venture capital fund, recommends using an executive summary to get into investor meetings. He says this will help open the door and set expectations for the meeting where you can deliver your full pitch and presentation.
You may use a form of an executive summary, or effectively create a pitch for your pitch deck which can be used in the body of your email outreach or social media messages.
After all, you are going to have to sell your pitch deck as being interesting, a great fit, and a valuable use of their time to look at. Or you are just going to end up in the spam folder and get blocked.
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Including the Executive Summary Slide in the Pitch Deck
It can also be useful to include an executive summary slide IN your pitch deck.
Again, this sets up expectations for your audience and prospective investors. It lets them know that this is a fit for their portfolio, checks some of the boxes of their investment criteria, and is worth their time and attention. Plus, it can give them specific points to look out for in the pitch deck to retain their attention.
Also, remember that investors only allocate around 2.41 minutes per presentation. That’s all you get. If you aren’t grabbing their interest, showing that they need to pay attention through the deck and that you have something that they really need to invest in, they are likely to glaze over, skip important slides, play on their phones, or just hit delete and move onto the next one.
You might want to watch this video for more on why you should include an executive summary of the pitch deck in your presentation.
What Is An Executive Summary?
As the name suggests, this is a high-level summary of your business. Or, in the case of fundraising, also a summary of the investment opportunity.
An Executive Summary has long been a common staple of traditional business plans. While every startup venture and company still needs a business plan and should have worked through a comprehensive one for their own benefit, more emphasis has certainly been put on pitch decks, and one-page business plans in recent years.
This piece of content summarizes everything important about your business and investment opportunity. It alone often makes or breaks the opportunity to land investor meetings, have a loan application processed, or get an investor to pay attention to your full pitch.
Business Plan Vs. Pitch Deck Executive Summary
What’s the difference between an executive summary for a business plan versus a pitch deck?
Design and length are the two main differences here.
As you’ll need both for your company, let’s look at each of them, and how the format and best practices differ.
Traditional Business Plan Executive Summaries
The executive summary of a traditional business plan should be no more than one to three pages long.
This will be about 10% of your overall business plan.
This is all text. Typically formatted and delivered in a Word, Google Docs, or PDF format.
This will most commonly be used in your virtual data room when fundraising for your startup, when applying for commercial loans, and anywhere else that your business plan is requested. Which may include licensing applications and leasing space.
Pitch Deck Executive Summaries
An executive summary of the pitch deck is primarily differentiated by its format. This goes on a single slide in your pitch deck. Which means that it needs to be very short. Perhaps 10% of the length of your business plan’s executive summary, or less.
This can be written as a single paragraph or just a couple of sentences. No more than that. It may work even better delivered as three to five bullet points covering the main points you are focusing on in this pitch.
This is typically going to be designed and delivered in a slide-based presentation format. Most commonly in Microsoft Powerpoint, or Google Slides.
Another significant difference between your pitch deck and executive summary slide is that it includes a visual. Try inserting a unique, high-quality image of your product or service in action. This will greatly reduce the number of words you need to use on this slide.
How To Create An Executive Summary Of The Pitch Deck
If you are struggling to start out crafting a superb pitch deck slide with an executive summary that is getting you funded, there are several ways to hack getting going.
Create A Traditional Executive Summary
Many startup founders struggle with being concise and simple. Which is absolutely vital for this slide and the entire pitch.
You may find it easiest to begin by writing a full one to a three-page executive summary. One that you will use in your full business plan.
Or even begin by filling out a full business plan template, or a short one-page business plan. This will give you all of the elements that you need to write your executive summary.
Complete Your Full Pitch Deck
If you already have a business plan, then you may also use the same strategy, and craft a full version of your pitch deck first.
Use a proven pitch deck template as your framework. Fill in the blanks and important data on each slide.
Then extract the most vital, must-have, and most compelling points for the executive summary for the pitch deck.
Reduce Your Executive Summary
No matter which of the above strategies you began with, the chances are high that you still have too much text for an effective pitch deck summary that will actually get your startup funded.
Condense it even further to the bare minimum. Just the must-have, most vital data points.
Effectively summarize again, and make it one paragraph or up to three short sentences. With a visual.
Hire A Professional Copywriter
In addition to the feedback and advice of your startup fundraising consultant, you may really want to hire an outsourced professional copywriter who can nail this for you. Hire the best you can, and the returns on this small investment can be huge. It can make all the difference in getting funded, and being able to continue with your venture.
What To Avoid In The Executive Summary Of The Pitch Deck
You must keep this slide as clean and simple as possible.
If you want to get funded, you will have to be disciplined in using a minimal amount of text.
Another major mistake can be deviating from your overall brand identity and flow. Your narrative and slide order still need to flow correctly.
Do not fragment or deviate from your branding on your website or other online assets. This will just confuse and irritate would-be investors.
Where Does It Belong In Your Pitch Deck?
The executive summary will be the second or third slide in your pitch deck.
This comes right after your cover slide. Which features your company name and contact information.
Then right before your problem slides. Which is one of the most important make-or-break slides in your deck.
Keep in mind that in fundraising, storytelling is everything. In this regard, for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
How To Write An Executive Summary
What information belongs in the executive summary of the pitch deck?
Assuming you are beginning with a traditional executive summary, and then boiling it down to the essentials, here is what the SBA recommends including in the long version.
Yes, once again, you want a summary for this document, or part of your larger document. Done well, this section may even be the perfect slice of text to use as your pitch deck executive summary. Though others may find a few compelling metrics are the way to go.
What is this company all about? This is a good place for your mission and vision statements. Let readers know the purpose of this venture and the big picture idea for what the world looks like if you are successful.
What does this industry look like? How big is this market? How much of it will you intend to serve? Which segments will you begin targeting first?
Don’t forget to include notable competitors, and position yourself against them. Including laying out your competitive advantage.
How is the company organized? What is its legal structure? Where is your company incorporated and headquartered?
Startup investors will want to know all of this information. Though you probably do not want to use up the precious space on your pitch deck executive summary with it.
Who are the founding and executive team? Who are your advisors and board members?
What is their management experience? Expertise in this domain? How strong is their track record for success in similar ventures?
What is your product? What are the main one to three benefits? How does this solve the big problem?
What stage is your product at? Is it still an idea on a slide? Do you have prototypes built? Have you sold any units? What has been the feedback and retention among customers?
What is your product roadmap going forward?
How are you marketing your product? What is your go-to-market strategy? What does this mean in customer acquisition costs? How does this give your company a sustainable advantage above all others?
Funding Request And Use
How much money are you aiming to raise in this round? What terms are you proposing, if any? What categories will these funds be invested into to multiply them, and increase the value and performance of the company?
What are your current financials? How have you been performing over the past couple of years? What are you forecasting in terms of finances over the next 12-36 months, thanks to receiving this new injection of capital?
Adding an executive summary to your pitch deck may be just what you need to get more investor meetings, to convert more viewers into investors, and put more financial fuel in the bank.
The executive summary of the pitch deck can be a powerful tool that secures the attention and follow-through you need. The key to wielding one well is all about understanding how it is different from other summaries, how to design one well for a pitch deck slide format, and where to get help when you need it.
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