Neil Patel

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What makes a killer pitch deck presentation stand out and convert the capital your startup needs to flourish?

You can’t afford to blow any opportunities of showing your pitch deck to potential investors. Whether it is sending it out to prospective investors or preparing for a live presentation or virtual pitch meeting with investors, you’ve got to nail it.

Investors see hundreds of decks before picking one to invest in. Your deck must stand out. It has to be better than at least 99% of all of the other pitch decks they will see.

So, how do you create a killer pitch deck presentation that will really crush it and bring in the funding your startup craves?

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

It’s Clear & Simple

Investors see an enormous amount of pitches. Beyond that, they are engaged in many pitch meetings and working on the portfolio of startups they are already invested in. And that’s just a part of their jobs.

Let’s just say they are super busy. They don’t have time to read lots of text or try, decipher a convoluted message, and make sense of your technology before flagging you to move onto the next step or permanently banishing you to the spam box.

So, your pitch deck must be extremely clear. And, you absolutely must figure out the critical elements of what makes a killer pitch deck presentation.

They are spending a second or less on most of your slides. You have to get across your message that fast and be sure they are getting the most important and valuable points.

Keep plenty of white space and use at least a 30 point font size. This will keep you disciplined in keeping it super simple.

Your Pitch Deck Is No Longer Than It Must Be

Not only does each slide need to be clean and simple, but you also need to be extremely conservative on the number of slides you use too.

Early-stage startups really need no more than 10 slides in a killer pitch deck.

You are losing points for every additional slide you include. Look at it as you are actually devaluing and taking away from the effectiveness of your deck with each slide. Less is definitely more. Keep that in mind when understanding what makes a killer pitch deck presentation.

Series B and C fundraising rounds may be a little different as you should have much more actual data and progress to report on by that time. In these later-stage funding rounds, you are also negotiating with investors who are making decisions much more based on the financials and data, versus the idea, team, and vision. In these cases, you may go 12 to 20 slides long.

It Balances Looks & Facts Well

A winning pitch deck should be both visually appealing and delivers on the expected data points.

There are certain information and questions every investor is going to have about your startup and funding ask. Be sure you have these bases covered or they may just skip over you.

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You can also keep it simple while including attractive visuals. Pictures can convey a lot more in less space than writing it all out in words.

Visual design helps bring your pitch deck to life and keep it interesting. Use charts, diagrams, graphs, callouts, blockquotes, and images as well as borders or backgrounds. Use them sparingly. No more than one per slide, but do use them.

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 Deck Has The Right Flow

Startup investors expect information to flow in a specific order. Don’t try to disrupt this, you’ll only sabotage yourself. Save the innovation and breaking things for your actual product and business model, instead of just confusing and turning off potential investors.

Your pitch deck needs to take your audience through these nine phases:

  1. Problem
  2. Solution
  3. Market
  4. Product
  5. Traction
  6. Team
  7. Competition
  8. Financials
  9. Your funding ask

Of course, you may also include a cover-title slide and a closing or thank you slide at the end. Working out a streamlined flow is what makes a killer pitch deck presentation.

It Shows How Great Your Team Is

The bulk of the decision to invest in your startup relies on your team. Not your product, solution, or financial projections.

This is even more important for early-stage startups. When you don’t have much of anything in the way of a proven track record with this start in terms of revenues and profits, you are asking investors to bet their money, reputations, relationships, and livelihoods on you.

Experienced investors know that this is going to be hard, and 90% of the success is going to depend on the team and their ability to stick it out and adapt. That the best team in this space will win. Everything else about your startup may change in the few months ahead. Your team won’t.

You have very limited space on your team slide, but include photos and one to two lines demonstrating how great your team is.

Links to LinkedIn profiles or website bios can expand on this. Be sure that content is also optimized to show past performance and achievements, grit, relevant capability and a little likeability doesn’t hurt either.

Clear, Strong & Urgent Problem

The next most important thing after your team is your problem.

Again, your solution, product, and business model may all change. It is quite likely they will. Though if you have a strong enough problem and a big enough problem, you will still have a business.

Be clear on what the exact one problem you are solving is. What is this pain you are solving and why is it so urgent?

During your verbal pitch, you can elaborate on how you encountered this problem and have explored and verified it. It’s one of the essentials of what makes a killer pitch deck presentation.

It Shows You Are In A Really Big Market

Investors are investing for returns. Big returns. They are taking a lot of risks. They may only see one out of 10 of their investments make it. Only one in 100 may really be the winners. So, they need to be able to have the potential for 100x returns on the investments they make.

When you are talking about them investing millions of dollars, the market has to be really big in order to deliver those types of returns. There are more and more startups that are not only taking on multi-billion-dollar markets but trillion-dollar markets too. Be sure you are competitive.

Zoom out to show the potential of this space, as well as just how big and fast it is growing.

Then zoom in and show what you can achieve and prove in the short term.

Shows You’ve Done Your Research

The number one business-killing blunder that most wannabe entrepreneurs is they don’t do their research. They don’t check for competition. They just rush in blindly. They don’t do the homework. That is a massive risk that is almost certain to lead to catastrophic failure.

Don’t shy away from acknowledging the risk, threats, constraints, and your weaknesses. This is the only way to successfully navigate and champion them.

Show you know your market, your competition, your customers, your burn rate, and yourself. Use a competitor graph and SWOT diagram to convey this. Be ready to back up your data and analysis in your appendix and the Q&A.

Shows That You Can Get Things Done

All of the big brilliant ideas, product concepts, claims, pretty pictures, and financial projections mean nothing unless you can actually take action and do things.

Building a real business, creating value, and generating tangible returns for investors is all about execution.

A killer pitch deck shows that you can focus, keep up the momentum and achieve things through meaningful progress.

Show this through your traction slide, growth rate, and timeline of the milestones you’ve already passed, as well as with a tight action plan and stating what you will achieve with this round of funding. Getting this information right is what makes a killer pitch deck presentation.

A Product That Shows You Can Focus

What is your big USP? Have the discipline to stay focused on the one problem you will solve. Avoid throwing in all of the other benefits and features. This isn’t the space to do that.

Show the one thing you will nail and excel at and be famous and chosen for.

Show You Can Make A Real Business Out Of This

Startup investors are business people. This is a financial decision and transaction. They are not donating to the charity of you.

To show this can be a real business and profitable one, show your financials, your projections, your unit economics, customer acquisition data, marketing costs and plans, and profit margins. As well as how all of this compares to industry benchmarks.

They probably know this business and the reality of these numbers better than you do, so be sure you are using reliable data and assumptions that you can back up.

Shows You Are Coachable

No one knows it all. In order to build a world-class and market-leading business, you are going to need a team that is at that elite level in all of these areas and you are going to have to leverage the advice of players at this level and hack their years of experience and knowledge. You have to be coachable.

Demonstrate this by showing the advisors you’ve already brought on board, as well as by using proven pitch deck formats recommended by advisors who really know this space.

It Is Bold

If you want your startup’s pitch deck to stand out, be compelling, interesting and move mountains to get funded, then make it bold.

No one is going to remember the little mediocre pitch decks and businesses. If everything was possible (and it is), then how much bigger and farther would you forecast your venture to go? How much bigger would you be aiming?

Be memorable. It’s a lot better to set a trajectory for Saturn and land on Mars, than to aim for the moon. That’s already been done. Remember these critical facts when figuring out what makes a killer pitch deck presentation.

Displays Your Contact Info Prominently

Don’t ace everything else and convince investors, only to lose them when it comes to them getting back in touch with you. That is tragic.

Make sure you display your contact information prominently, clearly, and make it easy and fast for investors to connect and take this to the next level. Make it effortless. Make sure you answer.

Gets Through To Your Target Investors

You can create the perfect pitch deck, but have it do nothing for you unless you get it out there and viewed by the best fitting investors.

So, in addition to crafting a killer pitch deck, you also need to work on your messaging and formatting for sending it out there.

What’s your cover message that will hook them to open it? What about subject lines? Have you prepared strong supporting materials to back this up and answer their other questions?

Be sure you are sending it out there in enough volume. Even the most successful fundraisers and founders have often faced dozens and hundreds of turn downs. This is a numbers game. Send, send, send. Then track who is viewing it, and follow up to close the deal.

Can Be Delivered Swiftly

When you are presenting your pitch deck live or online, you should be able to get through your verbal pitch in line with these slides in 20 minutes or less. Sometimes you’ll have even less time than that.

Any extra time you have can be used for overcoming objections and building rapport. Using this precious time properly is a part of what makes a killer pitch deck presentation.

It’s Emotional & Compelling

Rarely do we base our purchase, spending, and investing decisions purely on the math. We may want to or convince ourselves that we do, but the leap to taking action is always emotion-driven.

So, a killer pitch deck is also emotionally compelling, yet objective on the financial reasons to invest. Use storytelling, to blend these two factors together and win over investors to put that funding in the bank.

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 below I cover in detail What Makes A Killer Pitch Deck Presentation.

* * *


Hi, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about what makes a killer pitch deck presentation. 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 essential if you want to raise money. It’s literally the document that is going to tell the reason and the compelling story of why that investor needs to take you seriously and why that investor needs to invest in your business. In today’s video, we’re going to be breaking it down for you. We’re going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to make that killer presentation. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

The pitch deck needs to be clear and simple. Remember, you only have 2 minutes and 41 seconds, 2:41, to convince the investor because they are literally skimming through the presentation. You can’t afford to have them reading or to spend a significant amount of time per slide. Think about Apple. When you buy a product from Apple, it doesn’t come with instructions. So, here with the pitch deck, it is exactly the same way. It’s clear; it’s simple; it’s not text-heavy, and everything starts with the cover slide. Do a good job on the cover slide.

The cover slide is like a trailer. The pitch deck is the movie. The cover slide is the trailer. Before you go and watch a movie with your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, with whoever that is, you watch the trailer because if it’s a terrible movie, they’re going to kill you. That’s why you are essentially creating a great cover slide that, just with one image, you are able to set up the expectations of what they’re about to review.

On the cover slide, you’re going to be including a powerful image of your product in action, your space, a logo, a tag line, and the contact information. That is going to set up the stage for what the investor is about to review, rather than getting into it and then figuring out what your business is about. Again, be clear and be simple.

Also, your pitch deck shouldn’t be longer than what it needs to be. Typically, the pitch deck is between 15 to 25 slides. That’s it. Again, you do not want to go over that because then the attention span is very small; it’s very short, so you’re going to be losing people.

You don’t have to create this from scratch, by the way. You can use the pitch deck template below that founders are using all over the world to raise millions. Again, use something that is not long, that is not lengthy, and that right away tells the investor exactly why they need to give you that opportunity for a meeting.

The pitch deck needs to balance the facts and the looks very well. In many instances, a visual, a good picture can have a million words, so that’s why you want to be very good with the visuals, with the pictures that you’re adding. You want to make sure that you’re putting a lot of thought into why you’re putting that picture into each one of those slides. 

Again, you want to balance that with facts. For example, if you’re putting historic, market, trends, or whatever that is, make sure that you’re adding sources and that you’re putting a little bit of design work into it so that the investor is able to digest whatever information you’re trying to convey. In this case, I think that the design can come a long way. If you don’t have a designer that is working with you, you can go on websites like Upwork or anywhere you can find a freelancer. A little bit of those touches are going to make a lot of difference for you.

Your deck needs to have the right flow. If you have a pitch deck where things are all over the place, you’re going to lose the investor because investors are typically used to a specific structure or flow on a presentation. In this case, to give you an idea so that you have something to follow, the typical flow and structure are something like the following:

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Market
  • Product
  • Traction
  • Team
  • Competition
  • Financials
  • Funding Ask
  • Thank You slide

Obviously, on this presentation, you’re going to be adding the cover slide and an executive summary at the beginning so that they know what this is about. But, again, you always want to have a flow and a structure that are consistent with what the investor is reviewing out there.

The presentation needs to show how great your team is because if you ask any investor, they’re going to tell you that the most important thing to them is the team. It’s all about having the right people seated on the right seats of the bus. You’re going to have one slide that is going to be allocated for the team. Then, as a follow-up, you’re going to have the slide about the advisors or the board members, or whoever is additional on top of the team.

On the team slide, you want to include just the executive leadership team, the management team. You don’t want to include even the interns because you need to have only people that you know for sure that are going to be sticking around for the next six months in the business. Because if you start having people leaving the business that are not as committed, which you would find that level of commitment at the executive leadership team, you’re going to start to create concerns. The investor is going to think, “Maybe the business is not working. That’s why maybe they’re leaving.” Fundraising is all about removing concerns, not adding friction to it, so have people that are fully committed.

When it comes to showing that slide – when it comes to really showing it in a powerful way, you want to put the headshots of the team, and then you want to break it into bullet points. You want to add two bullet points to each one of the members of the executive leadership team, where one could be the experience, and another one could be some big accomplishments of that individual.

Then, one thing that you could do for social proof is, at the bottom, showcase all the logos of big companies, corporations that each one of the team members has worked at. That way, it would pop that logo, that recognizable brand when the investor is reviewing the presentation.

Market size is critical. When it comes to the market size, you need to make sure that it is over 1 billion. If it’s under 1 billion, probably most investors are not even going to touch it because the market size also determines the returns that they are able to generate from that investment. So, if it’s under a billion, it doesn’t justify the risk of an investment into an early-stage company. 

Again, it needs to be over a billion. Try to think big. Don’t try to niche too much what you’re doing. Keep it global so that you allow the investor to dream, and you allow the investor to think how big this could be, jumping from where you are today and graduating and maturing into something much bigger that has much bigger numbers. Again, keep it global, keep it broad, and keep it big.

It needs to show, as well, that you’ve done your homework. The financials are a critical aspect, a critical aspect because we don’t know where we’re going to be tomorrow, but you being able to showcase to the investor that you have done your homework on the numbers – money-in, money-out – and then how you’re projecting those over the course of time is going to give that investor peace of mind thinking that you have a clear grasp on what’s happening. 

There are studies that have followed pitch decks and that have showcased that the financials are the single, most important piece of information that investors like to digest. They want to know that you’ve done your homework and that you have a clear idea of what you’re doing. Typically, this should be anywhere between three to five years that you’re showcasing. And don’t make the mistake, that most founders make, which is taking a screenshot of your financial model and putting it on your pitch deck. Try to get some design work in there so that you can break it down into multiple slides how you are onboarding customers, how that is going to be modeled out, what’s happening with your revenues, how those are increasing, how you’re making money, and what’s the breakdown on that. Make it easy for the investors so they can review right away and they get a good understanding of what’s going on with your business.

Your pitch deck needs to be very easy to be forwarded and delivered. The best way to do this is to grab your pitch deck, put it on Google Drive or in a Dropbox folder, and then share the link. Avoid attaching it to an email because the attachments that you do are going to increase the actual size of the email. It’s going to increase your chances of landing on the spam folder of that investor, and you want to make it easy and simple, so just share a link that they can either open themselves or forward to someone else but very easy to get to your PowerPoint format. 

Never send it on a PDF because investors like to put notes and to put in the comment section that they forward to someone else. Allow them to have something that they can manipulate and edit easily because that’s going to also increase their interest and the engagement that they do with the document itself.

The pitch deck needs to be emotional. It needs to be compelling. Your story needs to move, touch, and inspire people. Everything starts with them getting excited with the problem that you’re looking to resolve and how you’re bringing that solution to market to really make it pop and cover that gap. It needs to be a problem that they can relate to. Maybe they experienced it themselves. Maybe there was someone in their family, but something that leaves them touched with what you’re doing, with what you’re bringing to market. That’s why the visuals that you use and the combination with text that you do are critical. You may need a copywriter, someone that can help you with the language. But you want to be as buttoned-up as possible.

Lastly, make sure that you’re putting your contact information everywhere, from the cover slide to the thank you slide. It needs to be prominent. What is your email? What is your phone? If they’re excited about what they’re looking at, can they grab the phone and give you a call, even if it’s 2:00 am? What is your cellphone? Just put it in there. It is critical that they know where to find you because you need to be able to get that money in the bank if they are interested.

Hit a Like on this video and leave a comment and let me know what you’re up to with your deck. Don’t forget to Subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re rolling out every week. If you’re raising money, send me an email at [email protected]. I would love to help out. Thank you so much for watching. 


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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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