Neil Patel

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How many words should be in a pitch deck for a fundraising startup?

Words are incredibly powerful. Even more so when it comes to sales and starting a company. That can apply to everything from your branding, company, name, email address, and slogan, to your ad copy, mission and values statements, and investor updates. It is especially vital when you are fundraising for new capital and financing. Where your pitch deck and the words it contains are all important to get the funding your venture requires.

So, how many words should be in your deck? How are they spread out across the various slides in your pitch deck? How do you minimize and optimize your text if you have too much? How can you augment these words to convey more of the data you want to get across to investors?

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    The Quick Answer

    How many words should be in a pitch deck?

    The short and sweet answer is between 300 and 600 words.

    The average time an investor spends viewing a pitch deck is just over three minutes. Which may be around 600 words of text if you are recording a video. Of course, you don’t want to speed talk through the whole thing, either. This is about crisply and clearly getting your message across.

    Your slides may contain an average of four bullet points each, with a four-word title. Shape Chef recommends using bullet points of just four words long in a Powerpoint presentation. That gives you about 300 words in a standard 16-slide pitch deck.

    Remember that you have to leave room for all your visuals and time to transition through slides too.

    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.

    Words Have Power

    Words are incredibly powerful. Use them, but use them wisely.

    Each word matters, especially when it comes to pitching investors. None of them should be left to chance or winging it. Each should have its purpose and be optimized to help you achieve your goals when pitching.

    This may not just be raising money, but landing the best possible investors for your startup. As well as getting the most out of them, maximizing your value and the deal you are able to strike, and how much other support they will provide. In addition to streamlining the fundraising process, increasing efficiency and the ROI on your time on this part of your business.

    While words are important and powerful, often, less is more. If you haven’t started yet, then you will certainly find that using fewer words can actually be much harder than more words. Yet, this one blunder of using too many words alone can destroy your fundraising efforts and pitches. Don’t underestimate this fact. It doesn’t matter how great everything else is, how amazing your idea or product is, or how well you are doing if you can’t control your word count.

    How To Simplify & Reduce The Word Count In My Pitch Deck

    If you haven’t attempted to start your pitch deck yet, then you are definitely reading this at the right time. It can certainly be easier to start with the right framework and work within that from the start.

    If you have already started, then you are also in the right place. You’ve probably already encountered this issue of struggling to cut down your pitch deck and word count. May you know it just isn’t flowing well. You know it is too long. Or maybe your fundraising consultant has told you to work on this, or you keep on getting rejected by investors you are presenting to.

    Whatever the case, virtually every single entrepreneur is going to face the problem of needing to simplify their pitch deck, and reduce their word count.

    So, what are some of the ways that you can do that? And how many words should be in a pitch deck?

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    Focus On One Main Point

    This is true of your whole pitch and deck. Investors are bombarded by so many pitches each day and week that it is virtually impossible for them to remember them all. At best, they might remember one to three stand-out points from the most interesting and compelling decks they are hit with. So, focus on one big takeaway. One thing that will stick in their minds and keep them moving towards funding you.

    This same philosophy should be applied to each of your pitch deck slides. What is the one main point this slide needs to get across? How does that play into your one big takeaway for your whole pitch?

    This will likely translate into one sentence, just three to five congruent and supporting bullet points, or one main data point per slide.

    Use A Large Font

    Using a large font for your text will ensure that your audience can see your message. Even if they are at the back of a room, you are presenting in, or are viewing it on a small screen. This can be critical. If they are struggling to read along, it isn’t going to flow in their minds. Or they are just going to get frustrated and tune out.

    Sticking to a large font choice will also force you to be disciplined in how many words you will put on each slide. If you try to cheat yourself and squeeze in more, they just won’t fit.

    Use More Visuals Instead Of Text

    You should also be using more visuals in your pitch deck. Words are essential. You need them.

    Yet, we have all probably also heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We can digest and process images faster. Providing they are simple and clear. Follow the same rules as for your text. Make them large and clear, with one main point.

    There are many places in your deck where you can simplify and speed up your presentation by using pictures, logos, charts, graphs, tables, and other visuals.

    Have A Fundraising Advisor Review & Edit Your Pitch Deck

    Pitching opportunities can be priceless. You normally won’t get a second shot. So, don’t burn the first one by going in with a weak pitch deck that has too many words.

    It always pays to get professional feedback before putting such a high-value opportunity at risk. Just be sure that you are consulting a fundraising professional. Everyone will have their two cents to add. Though, that may not help or be productive if it isn’t coming from the right perspective.

    Get their input on your flow of slides, your word count, and your use of text, as well as ensure they are understanding the main points and concepts that you were attempting to get across.

    Hire A Professional Copywriter

    While you can certainly grab a proven pitch deck template and fill in the blanks yourself, unless you are a professional copywriter with a sales and marketing background, and know fundraising and how investors read pitch decks, then the text of your pitch deck is probably best left to a professional copywriter.

    Consider how much you are raising, and what you can turn that into. As well as the cost of failing to raise this round, and the small investment this will take is clearly far more than worth it. Use this data as a starting point for figuring out how many words should be in a pitch deck.

    A Slide By Slide Breakdown Of How Many Words Should Be In A Pitch Deck

    Here is a quick guide to how you might distribute your text by slide:

    Cover Slide

    Include your contact information, company name, and tagline.

    Problem

    You should be able to sum up your problem in one sentence. Note that sentences have been getting shorter. One article on Medium says that sentences have shrunk 75% over the past few centuries. Several Google search results suggest the average is 15 to 20 words. With seven to 14 being ideal to get your message across to your audience.

    Today, and especially in this medium, you may want to err on the side of being even shorter.

    Solution

    The key here is to focus on one main concept or benefit. Which could be accomplished in a sentence, or three to five bullet points.

    Market Size

    Use a graphic here.

    Competition

    Use a visual chart displaying your competition.

    Competitive Advantage

    Use a chart that positions you against your competition. With perhaps one main call-out data point to remember.

    Product

    You may describe your product in one line, with one to three main features. Use images to explain the rest.

    Traction

    Use a graph to show your progress and growth rate.

    Customers and Engagement

    Use three to five bullet points to explain who your customers are, and the engagement you’ve had with them.

    Business Model

    This is perhaps most easily shown with a visual graphic of your business cycle.

    Financials

    Use simple spreadsheet-type tables to display your historical financials and financial projections.

    Amount Being Raised and Other Investors

    In just a couple of lines, state how much you are raising and list who your other notable investors are.

    Use of Funds

    In a few bullet points, list the spending categories you plan to apply this investment capital to.

    Team

    Use names, titles, and one-line bios, along with headshots for your cofounders and key team members.

    Advisors

    Copy the same format you used for your team slide for your advisors.

    Back Cover

    Use two sentences to thank your audience and tell them how to take the next step to fund you.

    Once you have this structure outlined, you will have a fair overview of how many words should be in a pitch deck.

    Working out the optimum word count is only one of the facets of how to create a pitch deck. If you need more detailed information, take the time to watch this video I have created. You’ll also learn how to keep it concise yet compelling.

    Your Pitch Deck Versus Your Verbal Pitch

    Your pitch deck ought to be able to stand alone. It will often be your first contact with investors. Your introduction will dictate whether you get any more of their interest and attention or an actual investor meeting.

    Once you get that meeting, then you can deliver your pitch deck, along with your narrative. When speaking, you can speak around your slides, add to your story, explain your points, and then take questions at the end.

    Can I Have A Longer Version Of My Pitch Deck?

    It is vital to stick to a short and simple pitch deck. If you can’t do that, you probably won’t get far in fundraising. Investors just won’t believe that you can take advice, do basic research, focus, or sell your product.

    Of course, it is understandable that technical founders find it extremely difficult to be so brief. So, by all means, start by laying out your deck with all your information. Hand that off to be crafted into a concise presentation that will actually work for fundraising.

    Then, depending on the recommendation of your advisors, you may include a longer and more detailed version of your deck in your virtual data room. Access to this version will be preserved for those investors who are really serious, are already moving forward toward funding you, and may need slightly more detail to make that final decision or check off their due diligence.

    Summary

    How many words should be in a pitch deck?

    Your pitch deck word count is very important. It can make all the difference in getting funded or not, as well as how fast, and the terms you are able to achieve.

    Know how many words you should have on each of your pitch deck slides, be disciplined about sticking to that, and know where to get help using the best words to create the best possible pitch.

    Do that, and each presentation will go better. You will convert more investors, and your entire fundraising process will be more efficient and profitable.

    You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.

     

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

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