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Neil Patel

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How to avoid filler words in pitch decks? Learning how to create concise presentations is vital to avoid significant roadblocks to your goals.

When it comes to pitch decks and getting funded, filler words are your enemy. You aren’t going to win any awards for high word counts.

You aren’t trying to hack rumors of a new Google algorithm change that demands thousands of words in your document. This is not an essay, a novel, or script for an extra-long film saga.

When it comes to creating a winning pitch deck, less is more.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

    10 Ways Filler Words Will Kill Your Pitch Deck & Fundraising Efforts

    1. Deck Length

    Including filler words take up more room on each of your pitch deck slides. In turn, that is going to tempt you to add more slides to try and squeeze in all of your points and the data points that investors really want to see.

    Just the fact that you have too many slides can be an instant turn-off to potential investors. It immediately tells them that either you haven’t sought out good advice, or couldn’t even invest two minutes on a simple Google search to figure out what a good deck should look like.

    Or you just weren’t disciplined and focused enough to do it right. If you can’t have the discipline and focus to create a pitch deck, how are you going to be able to have that with their money in your hand?

    They know if you are diligent with the small things, you will be diligent with the larger things as well. Yet, if they can’t trust you with the simple small things, then how can they trust you with their capital and reputations?

    Avoid filler words, keep your slide count down and deck short.

    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.

    2. Lack Of Focus

    Using filler words is the result of a lack of focus. Whether it is extra words in sentences and bullet points, or whole extra sentences and slide titles that aren’t needed, filler words will kill your chances of getting funded.

    Being able to succeed in business and especially as a startup is all about focus. The successful entrepreneur is the one who has a laser-like focus. That is what propels execution and results, and ensuring the right actions are being taken every moment. Not to mention ensuring the best use of time, resources, and capital.

    While this is extremely important to investors in their decision in which of all the decks they received today to fund, it is equally a test and tool for you to prove and improve your own ability to focus on what’s most important. And, it is critical that you learn how to avoid filler words in pitch decks.

    3. Lack Of Clarity

    More words just make things more confusing. They are harder to read, inevitably go off on more tangents, and detract from the most important key points.

    It is likely that investors will only be able to remember one to three key points from your pitch deck and presentation. If those four to fifteen words are buried amongst 1,000 other words, how do you expect them to get the right takeaways?

    Again, this is equally about conveying your message clearly to investors as it is demonstrating and improving your own clarity. This exercise will help you at every step, from hiring to marketing and selling, to forging business partnerships.

    4. Raising Unhelpful Concerns & Questions

    The more text you have in a pitch deck, the more questions you are going to raise.

    Instead of solving more objections by adding more words you are invariably raising more questions and concerns. Each one means throwing up an additional roadblock and hurdle to getting funded.

    Is it wiser to run the clear and most direct path, or throw obstacles in your own way that will slow you down, trip you up, and cause you to fail? Unfortunately, entrepreneurs seem to do this a lot when it comes to creating pitch decks.

    You can still answer and preempt 90% of the questions investors will have about your startup and funding you with simple one-liners, sparingly used bullet points, and big data points.

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    The rest can be left for the conversation after your pitch or when you get a real meeting or term sheet in hand. Remember that when figuring how to avoid filler words in pitch decks.

    5. Hampering Momentum

    A pitch deck is a sales tool. It is a tool for compelling action and momentum.

    This is not a full-length documentary, halftime show at the super bowl, or lengthy product demo. Think of it much more like a postcard than an essay.

    The big goal here is to get them excited about what you are working on, interested in working with you on this and getting them to take the next step in the conversation. That’s it. Period.

    Can you imagine if every ad you saw on social media or those sidebars of websites were 1,000 words long? It would be ridiculous. You would never be able to see the information you really went there for. You would run out of time to take action before you got to the end.

    On average, investors now spend just over three minutes viewing a pitch deck. Regardless of the number of slides, if that only gets them through your first few slides, they’ll never finish.

    They won’t get to the best stuff or your strong call to action. You are dead in the water before you start. Don’t let that happen and understand how to avoid filler words in pitch decks.

    6. Convoluting Your Pitch

    More filler words make it much harder to present to investors.

    If you are trying to read a dense script with lots of words, remember so much meat, or are trying to pick out your key points from your slides the chances are very high that you are going to tongue-tie yourself, get lost in your presentation, and find it far harder to get back in the game.

    If your tech goes down and you have to wing it, this is going to make it far harder. Odds are that you are going to choke and run out of the room.

    Having to use more words is also a sign of a lack of confidence. It is overcompensating for either your confidence in your skill to pull this off, or the value of the startup you are working on.

    Be succinct instead.

    7. Loses Investor Interest

    Whether read or spoken, too many words are going to bore your investor audience. They have to sift through thousands of decks. In the beginning, they just want someone to bring something interesting that stands out.

    Don’t lose that chance with too much filler, or they are just going to glaze over, disengage and miss out on hearing the very best parts.

    Fewer words, that are bolder and to the point are much more effective for getting funded.

    8. Killing Your Timing

    More words take longer to deliver. Even if you have an hour-long time slot to present, you have to be able to deliver that pitch in a maximum of 20 minutes.

    Otherwise, you will get crushed with any starting or tech glitches. You won’t have time for a good Q&A session or real conversations with these investors to get you to the next stage.

    9. Large File Sizes

    Filler words are just going to add to your pitch deck file size. If you are trying to share your pitch deck as an email attachment, this just lowers the chances of your message getting through, recipients being able to open your deck, or being able to view it well on their devices.

    It can be hard enough to get through to your ideal target investors. Don’t blow these chances for the sake of squeezing in those unnecessary filler words.

    10. Less Room For Visuals

    More text means less room for powerful images. As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. So use more visuals instead.

    This can include images of your product, team members, and diagrams, charts, and graphs, as well as big data points in graphics.

    If you can say it with an image, do that instead.

    Figure out how to avoid filler words in pitch decks, but have the maximum impact.

    While limiting the size of your pitch deck is critical for success, several other factors contribute to effective fundraising.

    How To Avoid Using Filler Words In Your Pitch Deck

    Cutting out filler words begins with getting the right mindset. It starts with recognizing, respecting, and appreciating that simpler is better and more valuable to you. It is more effective if you want to get your startup funded. Trust the process and expert advice, even if you don’t get why.

    Otherwise what you don’t know will kill you. Just like a parent trying to tell their child not to put their finger in an electrical socket or in the oven. They think they know better, but know you know better that you survived long enough to mature.

    The number one rule here: less is more

    Use A Proven Pitch Deck Template

    Instead of trying to guess how much text you should have, use a proven pitch deck template and just fill in the blanks. It will save you a whole lot of time and anguish.

    Set A Hard Limit On The Number Of Slides

    Don’t start writing and then try to make it squeeze into your slides. Start with your slides and make the text fit instead.

    As an early stage, pre-revenue startup, try setting a hard limit of no more than 10 slides.

    If you are a Series A or later startup with a significant amount of data, multiple products, or have even acquired other startups, allow yourself up to 16 to 20 slides in your pitch deck.

    Target Eliminating Filler Words

    Once you have your draft deck, go back and cut out any remaining filler words.

    Words like, if, but, and, we, then, so, the, can all be deleted.

    For example, instead of “We have already sold $100,000 of product over the past year,” try “$100k annual revenue.”

    Use BIG Font Sizes

    See how much more room a 30 point font takes up. This instantly forces you to use fewer words in your deck. All text should be at least 30 point font.

    Use More Images

    Use pictures, charts, and other visuals to eliminate the need for text. Don’t feel the need to add a paragraph to explain them either.

    Rethink Slide Titles

    You can save a sentence or even 50% of the text by rethinking how you use the title space on your slides.

    Instead of announcing what slide this is i.e. ‘Market Size Slide,’ ‘Problem Slide’ or ‘Team’, just get right into it.

    Your market slide could just say “$30B industry.” You shouldn’t need a title on your financial slide, team, or ask slide. It should be pretty obvious what it is.

    Pointers like these help you when you’re trying to work out how to avoid filler words in pitch decks.

    Have Someone Else Review

    Get a second pair of eyes on your deck to specifically delete any remaining filler words. Use a professional wordsmith to condense all remaining text.

    Use An Appendix

    Leave all of your explanations and the underlying assumptions that support your claims and data to an appendix.

    Have Alternative Pitch Deck Variations

    Creating a short and concise pitch deck like this can be one of the toughest challenges for even the most intelligent and talented aspiring entrepreneurs. If you find yourself driven mad by this simplicity, are white-knuckling sending out a streamlined deck, and can’t sleep at night over it, then allow yourself a second or third longer variation of your pitch deck in your virtual data room.

    Do not send these out to investors. Your short intro deck must do the work to get investors to your data room. Then, if you really must, you can brain dump all of the fantastic technical details on them. This may still not be wise. Though if it helps you nail the short deck and cut out all the filler, then it’s an option.

    Keep these critical tips in mind and you’ll learn how to avoid filler words in pitch decks.

    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.

    In the video How To Avoid Filler Words In Pitch Decks I cover in detail this topic.

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    FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS VIDEO:

    Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about how to avoid filler words in pitch decks. Before we get started, make sure that you hit that Subscribe button, and this way, you will never miss out on any of the videos that we roll out every week.

    The pitch deck is the document that you’re going to need in order to raise money. Again, it’s going to be two minutes and 41 seconds, 2:41 what you have from investors, so the last thing that you want is to put noise in there because they’re going to be filtering it, and the investors are not going to like it. In today’s video, we’re going to be breaking it down for you so that you get to understand how you put it together powerfully and how you avoid those filler words. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

    First and foremost, before we actually dive in, let’s talk about the impact of having those filler words in your pitch deck. What are the results, or what are the consequences? These are the most common: 

    • Deck length
    • Lack of focus
    • Lack of clarity
    • Raising unhelpful concerns and questions
    • Hampering momentum
    • Convoluting your pitch deck
    • Lose investor interest
    • Killing your timing
    • Large file sizes
    • Less room for visuals

    So, obviously, those are the different things that are going to be contributing to a catastrophic result and not getting that money in. Again, filler words are definitely not going to contribute for you to get the money because the investor wants it simple. Simplicity is king when you’re fundraising.

    One of the first ways to avoid the filler words is to use a pitch deck template. You can actually use the one that I have below that is for free that founders are using all over the world to raise millions. By having that template, you know exactly where you’re going to be positioning, what’s going to be the structure, and that way, you don’t have to put filler words to avoid some emptiness on the real estate. You always need to have that clear and great combination between the text and also the visuals. Using a pitch deck template can actually help you to accomplish getting those filler words out of the picture.

    You also want to set aside a hard limit on the number of slides that you’re going to be including. Typically, the amount of slides that you are going to be putting in there are going to be anywhere between 15 to 25 slides. The last thing that you want is to go over 25 because once you go over that amount, then you’re going to have to come up with all types of words and fillings in order to make sure that the deck is not empty. Again, try to keep it to a minimum, and simplicity is king, so cut as much as you can, but avoid cutting into the story.

    If you’re wondering what some filler words are, some of the ones that you want to avoid are the following:

    • If
    • But
    • And
    • We
    • Then
    • So
    • They

    You also want to use a big font size. The typical font size that you’re going to be including on pitch decks is going to be 30 points. Most of the people that are going to be reading those presentations are going to be senior folks for the most part, and they’re going to have trouble reading a very tiny font size. Again, put it in a way which is going to allow them to right away be able to read the document and skim through it because investors skim through the presentation.

    You want to also use more images. The more images that you use, the better, and you will have that nice balance because, at the end of the day, an image can be as powerful as 1,000 words. If you can find an image that is explaining what you’re trying to convey via text, maybe remove some of that text, and you actually have the image in place. Images are fantastic.

    You also want to rethink the slide titles. That is the tagline or the words or sentences that you have on top of each slide where you’re introducing what you’re about to say on every slide. This could be: 

    • The Problem
    • The Solution
    • The Market
    • Competitive Landscape

    Things like that that are right to the point and that investors are typically used to. Anything other than that is probably going to overcomplicate the flow and the structure of the presentation.

    Also, something that you can do is to have someone else review the presentation. A good way to do this could be to perhaps put your presentation on Google Slides or on some collaborative type of tool where you can share it with your team, share it with advisors, and then also with perhaps board members so that they can perhaps cut and simplify wherever it may be a little bit complex.

    Also, what you want to do is have alternative versions to the deck, and those alternative versions could be either used by sending via email, or you’re going to also have the deck that you’re going to be presenting in public because typically, via email, they’re going to review, they’re going to have more of an opportunity to read. While, when you’re in-person, you want them to focus on you, and obviously, in-person and on video, whatever that is. 

    You are essentially walking them through it, and that’s why you want them to connect with you because ultimately, this is a chance for you to build the relationship with them, and they need to connect at a personal level to a certain degree and like you. So, in essence, that’s what you want to avoid on the filler words.

    Hit a Like on the video. Also, leave a comment and let me know what you’re up to, and Subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re rolling out every week. And if you’re raising money, send me an email at alejandro@pantheraadvisors.com. I would love to help you out with your fundraising efforts. Thank you so much for watching.

     

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want me to help you with your fundraising, just book a call.

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