Neil Patel

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How to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown? How do you bounce back from an uncomfortable fundraising pitch experience?

Even the best-planned pitches don’t always play out as expected. Even the best pitch decks don’t seem to get the desired response on delivery. You might do a lot more pitching and presenting than getting wires in the bank.

In fact, there may be times when you feel you absolutely failed, you blew it, and it was an epic disaster. Be encouraged, that this is more common than you might think.

The big question is, how to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown? What do you do next? How do you prevent it from happening again?

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

    Common Types Of Pitch Deck Presentation Failure

    There are a variety of pretty common scenarios in which fundraising pitches don’t work out as expected. They can happen whether you are pitching live in person or online over video.

    Tech Glitches

    Whether you are using Google Meet, Zoom, or are presenting your slides on stage there are plenty of technical glitches that can happen.

    Teleprompters fail, the internet cuts out, laptops crash, and phones glitch out. It just happens.

    You Get Lost In Your Pitch

    It can be easy to get lost in your script, get index cards mixed up, and more. Especially if you are having technical problems. That can make your pitch clunky and messy at best.

    You Choke Up

    It happens. You may feel incredibly confident in your presentation. You may have memorized everything word for word, and be passionate about your venture.

    Then completely involuntarily, you take the stage, your mind goes blank, your body panics on you, and you completely choke up. It’s the worst nightmare for most people.

    The Audience Isn’t Engaged

    Your investor audience may just visibly appear bored and uninterested. They may be glazed over, yawning, be showing disinterest with their body language, or are active on their phones appearing to be involved in a completely different conversation. That doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t tuned in, but it may not feel great.

    The Feedback Is Brutal

    You may not only get told no by the investors you are pitching, their feedback may feel brutal. That does not mean the presenting experience and visibility still isn’t good for you.

    There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have been verbally beaten up and laughed off of TV sets, only to see their businesses flourish afterward as a result.

    None of these situations can feel good or fruitful. So, what can you do about it? How to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown?

    Would you like more information on what to do if your investor outreach is not working? Check out this short video I have put together explaining what you should do next.

    Step One: Prevention

    They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is certainly applicable here. It is a lot easier to prevent many of these issues than to try and recover from them.

    Some of the top ways to avoid these issues in the first place include the following.

    Make Sure You Are Pitching The Right Investors

    If investors aren’t interested or aren’t saying yes and giving you money, then either your delivery and pitch deck are off base, or you simply are not presenting to the right investors. Beat this by being clear about who your ideal investors are and researching them in advance.

    Practice With The Technology

    Many tech issues are the result of not being familiar with it, training on it, or practicing with it enough in advance. Be sure you know all your buttons and controls, transitions, and have backups for everything. Multiple back-ups for your mic, sound, pitch deck presentation, laptops, internet, and so on.

    Go Over and Practice Your Verbal Pitch

    Some say there are downsides to memorizing your script word for word. Yet, you will project much better and be able to survive other interruptions if you know your pitch off the top of your head and it is just natural. Practice, practice, practice.

    Practice In Your Space

    Try to practice and get comfortable in the actual space you’ll be presenting in. This is true whether you are doing it online from home or for a demo day at an accelerator.

    Keep It Short & Simple

    The shorter and simpler your pitch deck and presentation is, the less that can go wrong. You’ll cut out a lot of risk with fewer slides, less text, and a shorter verbal pitch.

    See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts

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    Don’t Go It Alone

    If public speaking really isn’t your thing, then don’t go it alone. Investors like to meet all of the founding team. So, split your presentation with someone else on your team who does thrive on being in the limelight or on camera. Most importantly, prepare your mind for how to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown?

    What If You Do Blow Your Pitch Deck Presentation?

    If with all of the above it still may not go perfectly according to plan. Any of these scenarios can arise.

    What is most important is that you have a plan for what’s next. That way you already have a clear action plan and know what to do, instead of reacting the wrong way or being frozen wondering what to do.

    If you are in a presentation and the tech goes or you lose your place there are several instant go-to solutions.

    1. Pause, stay silent for a moment, and collect your thoughts
    2. Breathe, it will help you remain calm and objective
    3. Drink water, it can buy you a few more seconds to bounce back
    4. Line savers, are go-to one-liners that will help you recover

    Mindset

    Surviving and bouncing back from a pitch deck meltdown is a 99% mindset. It is all in your mind.

    Number one, remember that every great speaker once wasn’t that great. They were terrified of speaking and probably blew it a few times too. It is a learned skill. You can learn it too.

    If you think you can change the world with this amazing business, then you can learn how to tell others about it. It is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a step on the way to success.

    Secondly, remember that these are all likely and normal scenarios. Don’t worry about it. Expect them to happen. Then you won’t need to panic when it does. Many of the most successful startup founders and fundraisers have been turned down 99% of the time they pitch.

    Some have faced 300 rejections. The difference in them ultimately raising millions and billions is being mentally prepared. When things go badly, they think “oh we knew it was going to happen, so it is going according to plan. We are on the right track.”

    Thirdly, look at each pitch purely as a learning opportunity, period. That’s it. If you learn something from the experience, it is a success. That is all that matters.

    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.

    Your Pitch Was A Disaster, Now What?

    Maybe you already went through a rough pitch deck presentation. Maybe you feel like it was a total disaster. What now? How to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown?

    Don’t Quit

    You may feel like it. At this moment you may see no way forward or way to redeem yourself. Just don’t quit yet. You only fail when you quit. You can keep going. Even now presidents, Elon Musk and big-name presenters at CES have had miserable pitches and presentations. The only difference is that they refused to quit, and kept going anyway.

    Take Time To Recover

    After a really bad presentation, all you may want to do is teleport home, toss your phone in the trash, curl up in the fetal position in bed and never get up again. It’s okay. Take a moment to recover. Just don’t stay there.

    Review

    Be objective. Review your pitch. What did you do well? What could be better? Why did they really give this feedback? Was it warranted, applicable, and actionable, or not? Have someone else review it with you to get a better perspective on it. Don’t take it personally.

    Iterate

    From what you learned, make improvements. How can you improve on the technology used? The setting you are presenting in? What about your pitch deck? Can you make it shorter and flow better?

    Get Back On The Horse

    Once you have revised and optimized your presentation, get back out there as soon as possible. The sooner the better. Keep the momentum up. The more you do it, the better you will get. If you need to, build up to it one pitch at a time. Start small before you present to big crowds.

    Compile The Data & Act On It

    Compile the data from your pitches and pitch decks. What do the facts say? Tweak as needed and keep on improving.

    Get Speaking Lessons

    Public speaking is a skill. One that is a science that can be learned. Study other successful pitches and speakers. Read tips and get a speaking coach if you really want to excel in this area and at fundraising.

    Focus On What Is Most Important

    In most pitches, the audience is only going to remember maybe three things. That’s all they can retain. So, keep your pitch short and sweet. There is a lot less room for error when you only need to get a few points across. Stay prepared for how to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown in case things don’t go as planned.

    Top Reasons You Are Not Getting Funded

    Some of the most common reasons you may not be converting investors with your pitch deck may include the following.

    Your Pitch Isn’t Original & Differentiated Enough

    Investors may view hundreds or even thousands of pitches before investing capital in a single startup. You’ve got to have a pitch deck that stands out from the pack.

    Your Pitch Deck Flow Is Wrong

    Just having the right information isn’t enough. Investors expect your pitch deck slides and presentation to follow a certain order. Make sure you are nailing that.

    Your Pitch Deck Is Too Long

    One of the most common pitch deck blunders is simply being too long. Early-stage startups should be aiming for no more than 10 slides. Later stage startups may have as many as 20 slides. Whatever stage you are at you want to be able to deliver your pitch in 20 minutes or less.

    The Market Is Too Small

    Investors are looking for big 100x returns. From the point they are investing at, to when they want to be out, your venture has to be able to deliver those types of returns. You don’t necessarily have to be the market leader or have a big market share, but the total market has to be really big to make this possible.

    You Are Not Being Realistic

    You should be bold and have a big vision and aggressive agenda, but you have to be realistic about achieving it.

    Investors with industry expertise will instantly know that you are way off and are just making it up if you don’t know your industry benchmark metrics. The most common being customer acquisition costs and profit margins.

    Your Q&A Is Weak

    Do you know your most common questions that investors will ask? What about their most likely objections and rebuttals to those, backed up with credible data? If you can’t answer their queries and have to redo this, the experience will help you when figuring out how to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown.

    You’re Not Focused Enough

    Your deck layout, product description, and next action steps will all instantly reveal how focused you are as a leader and company. It takes laser-like focus to win in the startup world.

    Your Team Is Not Convincing

    Unless you are already at a late stage and this investment is a prelude to an M&A deal or larger financial position, investors are betting on you as a team far and above your business idea or product. Are you coming across as something they should want to work with, who has incredible resilience, grit, and commitment?

    At the onset of the presentation, stay mentally prepared for the possibility of failure. It’s critical that you know how to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown. Resilience is the key to starting a successful venture.

    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.

    Hopefully this post provided you with some perspective as you are looking into how to bounce back from a pitch deck meltdown.

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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.

    Book a Call