When to cut your pitch deck content? How would you know it is time to shorten your pitch deck?
Despite all of the other amazing feats of science, physics, science, and product creation, startup entrepreneurs are capable of, creating a short and concise pitch deck continues to appear to be one of the toughest challenges faced by founders.
Yet, it is also one of the most important things to conquer for those who hope to get their startups funded.
So, when should you know it is time to cut your pitch deck content? When it is time, how do you do it? Where and what do you start cutting?
Signs You Should Be Cutting Down Your Pitch Deck Content
Here are some of the most obvious signs indicating when to cut your pitch deck content before you try pitching even one more investor.
You don’t get a lot of chances out there. There may not be that many potential investors on your target investor list. You can’t afford to burn these opportunities.
If you are encountering any of these issues, start cutting your deck immediately.
You Are Getting Negative Feedback On Your Deck Before Pitching
If you are already getting negative feedback before hitting investors with your deck, or you just aren’t getting any feedback and response from advisors, mentors, friends, and others you’ve tried testing it with, the chances are you need to streamline it.
There could be other issues with it of course. They may just not have given you time to read it. Or they might not have had enough time. They might just not get it. Or not want to offend you.
Whichever the case is, your deck, presentation, and communication need some work. Slicing back the content may be a great start.
Your Pitch Deck Isn’t Getting Through
One of the biggest and easiest red flags to catch when it comes to fundraising and pitch deck issues can be in sending your deck and getting it viewed.
If you are tracking all of your fundraising campaign metrics as you should, you may notice that your emails and other pitch messages containing your deck aren’t getting through.
Either your messages are bouncing, aren’t being seen, are not opened or your pitch deck itself isn’t getting the views.
It is true that there can be a variety of reasons contributing to this. You may be running too much spam already, your messages may be flagged for spam due to the intro text, subject lines, or email address.
Or these parts of your messaging and campaign just may be failing to interest and compel recipients enough to open them and click through.
Or, perhaps even more likely, if you are trying to send your pitch deck as an attachment, it is getting stripped out by spam blockers, flagged as risky for recipients, or is just too big to get through, be opened, or viewed efficiently and effectively on their devices.
That could be an indication of when to cut your pitch deck content.
Your Pitch Deck Views Are Too Short
If you are tracking your pitch deck views and other metrics online or in your virtual data room (and you ought to be) are too short, then your deck is probably too long.
Investors could be immediately coming to the conclusion that this isn’t for them by what’s on your slides. Though if the number of slides they view and time spent per slide is clearly too short for them to have really digested it or completed your deck, then there is a very high chance it is just too meaty and long.
They either gave up wading through it because they didn’t have enough time before getting onto the next deck or more likely because you couldn’t be concise in your presentation.
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.
Investors Are Visibility Unengaged In Your Meetings
If you are landing meetings with investors you can see that they are visibly not interested much. Their body language says they are not engaged. They may be checking their phone. Their eyes are glazed over. Or you may even see a yawn.
It could be your delivery, but if your slides can’t keep them awake and engaged, then there is an issue.
If they gave you a meeting, they should have been able to maintain interest for a few minutes. So, then you either are rambling, just have too many slides that are too cluttered, or it isn’t the type of startup they thought it was.
All You Hear Is “No”
Perhaps you are getting replies to your prospecting efforts. You are even getting investor meetings or opportunities to pitch from the stage or on camera. Yet, all you hear is no.
That’s not uncommon. Even great entrepreneurs with great startups can have to wade through their share of turndowns before landing their lead investor.
However, if this is becoming a pattern, then it is also foolish to ignore it, and not try something new. If your product sales or advertising were just hitting a wall, then you would try iterating there, right?
It should be no different with your pitch deck. You keep improving and tweaking until you nail it. When it comes to improving pitch decks, less is more, and cutting it down can be one of the fastest and easiest tweaks to try.
If you are hearing no then either you are in front of the wrong investors, or they are not receiving the message and your key points. Making it clearer can help a lot.
At least test out shorter decks. You can even add longer versions to your virtual data room if you like, and then see which is working best.
Look out for the signs indicating when to cut your pitch deck content.
You Are Having Trouble Delivering Your Presentation On Time
If you are finding you are struggling to deliver your presentation on time or comfortably within your time slot, then you also need to cut your pitch deck down.
This includes when you have technical difficulties or more people in the room than anticipated to introduce and get focused. You should still be left with ample time to handle a Q&A session and have real conversations with prospective investors.
If this isn’t happening, then the presentation needs to be a lot shorter.
The Questions Show Investors Aren’t Focused
If the questions you are getting from investors show that you aren’t getting your key points across, investors are confused, or you are distracting them with tangents, then simplify, simplify, simplify.
Remember that the point of the pitch is not to explain all the details. It is a quick sales ad, that carries through from initial awareness to interest in talking about and exploring this opportunity further.
That’s it. Get them hooked and wanting to take the next step. Be very wary about confusing them or putting up any mental hurdles or slowing them down. Otherwise, it is you that is sabotaging your own fundraising process.
So you see, the secret to learning how to nail your pitch deck narrative is to keep it short and simple. For more information, check out this video I have put together.
You Have Too Many Slides
There is an acceptable and expected number of slides in a pitch deck. If you are over that, it is an immediate red flag for investors. It instantly says that you haven’t even tried to do the most basic research on creating a pitch deck or what makes a successful pitch deck.
Or if you have, then you’ve chosen just to ignore the advice and what investors want in a deck. Either way, you are immediately losing credibility with them. You can’t afford that.
There may be some slight leeway depending on the stage of your startup and how long you’ve been in business. Though be wary of finding reasons to justify a longer deck, just because it is easier and faster for you than creating a strong short deck.
So, how many slides should be in your pitch deck?
You only really need 10 slides in your pitch deck. Especially as an early-stage startup.
More mature, later-stage startups may have enough data, and investors may expect reporting on historical revenues, and a menu of product lines or subsidiary companies.
So, what slides do you need in your deck? And, how would you know when to cut your pitch deck content?
1. The Cover Slide
What’s your company, tagline, and contact information?
1. The Problem Slide
What is the big problem your startup is going to solve?
3. The Solution Slide
How are you solving the problem?
4. The Market Size Slide
What is this market, how big is it?
5. The Product Slide
What product are you selling?
6. The Traction Slide
How much progress or traction have you made already?
7. The Team Slide
Who is on the team?
8. The Competition Slide
Who are the competitors, how do you compare?
9. The Financials Slide
How much money and profit is this business generating or going to make?
10. The Ask Slide
How much are you raising in this funding round, and how will you use the money?
How To Cut Your Pitch Deck Content
Reduce The File Size
Help your pitch deck get through to investors and be more viewable by reducing the size of images and cutting back on design elements and slide count to reduce the overall file size
- How to cut your deck – size – images/ desi9gn/ links vs attachments
- Font size – force you to have less text
- Text limits – No more than 1-2 sentences or 3 bullet points
- 3 minutes or less to view
- Test it – if people take away your points – grandmother test
Improve the effectiveness of your presentation by learning when to cut your pitch deck content.
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.