What Is The Length Of A Pitch Deck? Or, how many slides should your pitch deck be?
Pitch decks are vitally important for startups. They can be the key or the roadblock to funding your business.
There are many tips for crafting a powerful pitch deck and pitching for fundraising. Yet, one of the main things that frequently confuses and sabotages startup founders is how long the pitch deck should really be.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Here is the content that we will cover in this post. Let’s get started.
- 1. How Long Your Pitch Deck Should Be
- 2. The Ideal Number of Slides in a Pitch Deck
- 3. Ideal Pitch Length
- 4. The Two Exceptions To The 16-Slide Deck
- 5. Why Slide Count Is So Critical To Get Right
- 6. Size Matters: So Does The Order Of Your Slides
- 7. Cover Slide
- 8. Problem Slide
- 9. Solution Slide
- 10. Market Size
- 11. Competition Slide
- 12. Competitive Advantage Slide
- 13. Product Slide
- 14. Customers & Engagement Slide
- 15. Traction Slide
- 16. Business Model Slides
- 17. Financials Slide
- 18. Amount To Be Raised & Other Investors Slide
- 19. The Team Slide
- 20. Use Of Funds Slide
- 21. Advisors Slide
- 22. Closing Slide
How Long Your Pitch Deck Should Be
Pitch deck lengths and slide counts alone can make or break your startup and fundraising efforts.
The length has a variety of impacts on the effectiveness of your deck and pitch. First, it is a significant signal as to whether you are going to make it as an entrepreneur and startup.
Just by the number of slides in your deck (without looking at any of them), experienced advisors and investors know whether you are likely to make it or not.
You are probably asking others for at least millions of dollars. Millions that you haven’t been able to put together in your life up until now. Important capital they have personally sacrificed to save or raise. It is their livelihoods, family finances, and reputations on the line.
If you couldn’t invest a few minutes to research for information about what is the length of a pitch deck, or couldn’t bother to deliver on it, why on earth would they consider investing so much in you?
Creating a shorter deck can seem harder than just pouring out everything in your head onto slides. Yet, being able to do so is a big differentiator. It is a must. It proves that you can focus and execute, follow great, and get things done.
That is what differentiates the few founders and ventures that have what it takes to succeed, while 99% fail. If you can’t focus when it comes to simply putting together a deck, how are you going to build a scalable business?
The Ideal Number Of Slides In A Pitch Deck
Put simply, the ideal length of a pitch deck for startup fundraising is 16 slides.
However, as we’ll get into in a moment, it is also vital to have the right slides, in the right order.
Simplicity is key when pitching investors. Or even advisors and important hires, for that matter. As is demonstrating to investors that you understand best practices in fundraising.
As you aren’t just selling them on this opportunity. For you to be successful, deliver on the returns they need, and protect their capital, you will need to continue to be successful in pitching and raising money from other investors. All the way through an IPO, acquisition, or another form of exit.
Being disciplined in sticking to an appropriate number of slides and length of pitch seems to be one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to do, especially for technical founders. Some can come up with incredibly genius products and material breakthroughs, yet find it nearly impossible to get their pitch deck length right.
Do not underestimate the importance of this. It can be the one thing that either makes your vision possible or paves the way for you. Or that holds you back, makes it far harder and longer than it should be, and means you never get any traction.
Ideal Pitch Length
Be sure that you are equally disciplined in the amount of content on each slide. This will determine how long it takes to present each slide verbally. Or how long it will take viewers to work through it on their own.
Investors are extremely busy. The best and most desirable are even busier. Don’t expect them to spend more than three minutes viewing your deck if you share it with them virtually.
That means if you aren’t strict on your slide count and content, they aren’t going to have time to get through it and take the action you want.
The same applies to delivering your pitch live online or in person. Even if you have an hour time slot, by the time you set up and do introductions, and save time for a Q&A session, you may only have 15 minutes of actual pitching time to present your slides.
It can perhaps be most helpful to remember that pitching is not about you. But, it is not really about your product or service, or technical genius.
It is about the audience. And, it is checking the boxes of your prospective investors, and meeting their expectations and needs. That does not only apply to the dynamics and mechanics of the investment but the pitching and funding process as well.
Keep It Simple
Being able to keep it simple, including plenty of white space and larger font sizes, helps to get the most important facts across. It helps maintain interest and flow and greatly reduces the risk you’ll lose the audience in the process.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
- Fundraising Process : get guidance from A to Z.
- Materials : our team creates epic pitch decks and financial models
- Investor Access : connect with the right investors for your business and close them
Length even matters when it comes to document storage and file sharing. A shorter deck and smaller file size have many more options for sharing and publishing.
That can make all the difference when it comes to getting your deck in the right hands. It also makes it far less likely to be deleted for taking up too much storage space.
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.
So, how short is short enough? How many slides should your deck have? What Is the length of a pitch deck?
This may somewhat depend on what stage your startup is at. The earlier stage your startup is, the less data you will have and be expected to present. Try to avoid exceeding 20 pages at all costs. 16 is better. 10 or less is even sufficient for pre-seed, pre-revenue startups.
The Two Exceptions To The 16 Slide Deck
It is all too easy for founders to fool themselves into justifying going longer with their pitch decks. Resist that temptation.
However, there may be two cases in which you may deviate from this 16-slide pitch deck template.
The first is for very early pre-seed startups. While you may not even have a product or business model thought through yet, some entrepreneurs have successfully raised money right from the outset, when they are still in the discovery phase of exploring problems and opportunities.
In this case, you can certainly limit your pitch deck, and maybe go as brief as just 10 slides.
At the other end of the scale, later-stage startups that already have multiple products or revenue streams, more developed companies, perhaps even with an acquisition or two under their belts already, and substantial existing financials might justify having a few more slides.
Even in this case, you should not exceed 20 slides. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to expand on this, with more detail for qualified and truly interested investors in your virtual data room and follow-up conversations and meetings.
Why Slide Count Is So Critical To Get Right
In addition to all of the above, if you can’t demonstrate that you can be disciplined and focused, and apply yourself to learning about what prospective investors want and need, they just aren’t going to take you seriously.
They’ll see you haven’t put the effort in or perceive you are not capable of what it takes to build a large and fast-growing enterprise.
Just getting the slide count wrong can instantly get your pitch dismissed, and relegate your messages to the spam and trash folders.
Size Matters: So Does The Order Of Your Slides
The length of your pitch deck in terms of slides certainly has a pivotal effect on fundraising success.
Providing you’ve gotten that right, you also need to ensure that your slides and content flow in the right order.
It’s a story that builds up to the result you want. It is a process of checking off the boxes for investors in the format that is desirable for them.
Note that this also requires being disciplined in the amount of content on each slide. You can’t just cram 40 slides of content into 16. It will be too complex, boring, and slow to get through.
Take a minimalist approach, only including the minimum that is absolutely vital for investors. Limit the text and data you use.
Remember, this is all just about getting them excited enough to take the next step. You are not trying to explain all the granular details about your product and technology.
1. Cover Slide
This is your first impression of your pitch deck. Make it count.
It is a positioning tool. One which typically instantly determines whether your audience will remain interested or not and whether they will perceive this is for them, or not.
It is also a practical slide, which can be used as a quick reference to get in touch with you.
With all this in mind, your cover slide should be attractive, but not busy. It should include your name and contact information. As well as your company name, logo, and tagline, or one-line elevator pitch.
Looking for more information on the precise steps to pitch an idea to an investor? Check out this video, where I explain in detail.
2. Problem Slide
This is really the crux of your entire venture and investment opportunity.
Investors are looking for founders that have great clarity on the problem they are out to solve, who can convey it concisely, and who have validated it.
Simply state the problem this venture has been created to solve. Sum it up with one sentence.
You can then talk around this slide, and tell a relatable story that drives it home.
3. Solution Slide
This is a quick high-level overview of your solution. Your thesis for how you aim to solve the stated problem.
This is not about product details. It’s the big-picture direction you are going in.
If you can ride any trends and tailwinds that investors are currently looking to invest in, this is a great place to mention that and have it stand out.
Just use a sentence or two on this slide.
4. Market Size
This is one of the most important make-or-break slides in your pitch deck.
Funding can be won or lost just based on your market size. Even your stated market size.
Use a visual, or a couple of bullet points to show how big the potential is here.
You may need to zoom out to show a larger total market, and how big it will have grown in the next few years. As well as to point out the target segment of this market you will or have begun focusing on winning.
5. Competition Slide
Who your competition is, and is likely to be can be more important than you think as a new founder.
This slide is used to position your brand against others in the market. As well as to benchmark value, funding amounts, and even perhaps to allude to who your most likely acquirers could be in the future.
Use a visual chart to plot your company against a handful or fewer of your main competitors.
6. Competitive Advantage Slide
This is where you further position yourself in the market, as well as demonstrate your value, unique sales proposition, and how safe your investors’ capital may be.
This should be a significant value advantage, providing a 10x to 100x improvement over the status quo. It should be sustainable and defensible for the longer term.
It may include well-protected and highly valuable intellectual property, a substantial headstart in an industry with high barriers to entry.
7. Product Slide
This is where you finally get to showcase your product.
Hone in on the one big, main benefit. Do not bog down your audience in technical details.
Use a strong image of your product. This may be a prototype or screenshot if necessary.
Investors will want to know whether this is a mockup, or whether you have actually deployed a real product into the market.
If you already have multiple product lines and revenue streams, you may list them. Though, be wary of laying out your whole product roadmap or potential future products here. Show you can focus.
You can answer or expand on these other questions during your Q&A session, or follow-up investor meetings.
8. Customers & Engagement Slide
Let investors know who your customers are. What is your customer avatar? Are you a B2B or B2C startup?
What feedback have you already compiled from potential or existing customers? What engagement have you had with them so far?
9. Traction Slide
This is where you show how much progress you’ve made, and the trajectory you are on.
In many cases, this is a make-or-break slide. Some investors may invest in traction alone. Others have strict expectations and criteria for startups that they consider fundable.
Depending on your stage of business, some investors may be focused on week-over-week growth, month-over-month, quarterly, or annual growth.
Pick a metric to show your traction that you are confident that you can keep up with.
10. Business Model Slide
What is your business model? Either use a diagram or a few bullet points to show how your business works at a high level. You’ll also talk about how you intend to market to customers and other such details.
11. Financials Slides
If you have already begun business, include your existing financials. If not, this is all about financial forecasts for the next 1-5 years. This should include customer acquisition, sales, revenues, profits, and profit margins.
12. Amount Being Raised & Other Investors Slide
What other investors are already involved or expected to participate in this fundraising round? How much are you asking to raise in this round? Who is leading the round or participating?
13. The Team Slide
Use profile pictures and one to two-sentence bios for each co-founding member in the team slide. You’ll also add information about the various executives.
14. Use Of Funds Slide
How much money are you asking for? What will you do with the money you raise? What milestones will it enable you to achieve? What are you going to use this money for? Use a graphic or a few bullet points to show the buckets you will put this money into.
15. Advisors Slide
Replicate the same format from your team slide to show off your great investors, and boost your credibility.
16. Closing Slide
Thank investors for their time; repeat your contact information so they can get in touch and take the next step for funding you.
When you’re exploring for information about what is the length of a pitch deck, keep these essential factors in mind.
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.