How long should a pitch deck be? A pitch deck should be no longer than 20 slides in length. Ideally, you should be as concise as possible. 10 slides are even better, as long as you aren’t overcrowding your pitch deck. Less than 10 slides would tend to suggest that your pitch is underdeveloped.
With that answer out of the way, you might think you know everything you need to know about pitch decks and their length. However, the only way you can make a pitch deck the right length is to understand what goes into making an effective one.
Other Considerations for Pitch Deck Length
When thinking how long should a pitch deck be I’ve advised thousands of entrepreneurs about how to make a pitch deck, but one of the most challenging aspects in doing so, is figuring out how long a pitch deck should be before putting it in front of potential investors.
As opposed to a business plan, your pitch deck length will be determined by your central argument, market data, investor attention, and basic pitch deck structure.
The Pitch Deck Central Argument
The central argument for your pitch deck is the main point you are trying to get across to investors. This is the point that will, hopefully, entice them to invest in your company. This is usually explored through the problem/solution dichotomy.
The “problem” is the issue you are trying to solve for potential customers. The “solution” is the product or service you launch to achieve that goal.
In order to attract investors, you need to be able to persuasively show that the problem is real and that the solution is valuable. Do those two things and you will already have a great shot.
However, when wondering how long should a deck be, know the problem/solution dichotomy is often what adds substantial length. Entrepreneurs become so engrossed in their product/service, that they go into too much detail when writing their pitches.
Be as concise as possible when you are determining the slides you need in your pitch deck. The entire point of the problem/solution dichotomy is to purify your pitch. You need to boil it down to the absolute heart of what your pitch is about. Stick to one slide with no more than three bullet points to show the problem you are solving.
Do the same with the solution and you will cut down the length of your deck while keeping the attention of potential investors.
When thinking how long should a deck be, know that Investors aren’t interested in your intuition alone. You might make great observations about a niche and what it will take to be profitable within it, but how can an investor know your intuition or insight is correct?
To make your points more compelling with angel investors, you need to back them up with cold, hard facts.
Each point you make during your pitch must be supported by accurate data. That way, an investor cannot so easily unravel your entire business plan – and believe me, that’s exactly what investors will try to do to stress test your deck!
Market data is a cornerstone of this idea. By either carrying out market research or sourcing previously published market research data, you can show investors the numbers behind your ideas. Everything from the size of the market, its growth, and the consumer interest in your product/service is underpinned by solid market research.
The trouble is that market research can be complex. You will most probably be quoting several different market research sources. You’ll also be tempted to incorporate as much market research into your deck as possible in order to convince investors of your value proposition.
This is a mistake. Too much data will increase the length and duration of your deck.
Like you did with the problem/solution dichotomy, boil your market research data down to the most salient, impressive statistics. Do not overburden your deck with numbers. Back up the main thrust of your deck with a few stats.
Here’s a key point: Keep a list of stats to the side that you can break out should investors delve deeper than what you have presented, but keep the slides themselves uncluttered and pure. Only go deeper when asked to.
How long should a pitch deck be? As long as an investor will pay attention. When designing your pitch deck, think about how long an investor will comfortably sit through your pitch or read your deck.
You want your pitch itself to be less than 4 minutes in duration, certainly less than 5.
Remember, some pitch decks are read rather than presented, so while you can easily time your own presentation, reading speed is specific to the individual. The average reading speed, as reported by Forbes, is 450 words per minute for a college student.
A high-level executive can read 575 words per minute. However, the overall average for an adult is 300 words per minute. Keep these amounts in mind and, if your pitch is to be read rather than presented, keep everything below 4 minutes reading time. When possible, rely on images and graphs rather than words.
Basic Pitch Deck Structure
Your pitch deck should follow an accepted format and structure. I’ve explored how to make a pitch deck in other articles but to recap, the structure of a pitch deck is: Problem, Solution, Market Research, Product Description, Growth Projections, Team, Competitors, and Financial Projections.
Keep each section easy to understand and concise. Your pitch deck length will be determined by how you weight these sections, though I advise no more than 2 slides for any part of your deck. On rare occasions, you may have to stretch to the third slide for a section, but only when absolutely necessary.
Remember, you want no more than 20 slides in your pitch deck and closer to 10, if possible. If you create your pitch deck and it is too long, then you are going to have to edit it down to a purer form.
Learn More About the Perfect Business Pitch
I hope you found this article helpful. If you want to learn more about making the perfect pitch deck and securing the best deal, check out The DealMakers Podcast. Each episode is crammed full of essential business tips and advice from the world’s leading entrepreneurs.
Remember that storytelling plays a key role in fundraising. This is being able to capture the essence of the business in 15 to 20 slides. For a winning deck, 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.
ACCESS THE PITCH DECK TEMPLATE