Making pitch decks isn’t easy. Sure, you can make a few slides in just a matter of hours and call it a pitch deck. However, creating a pitch deck that will actually help you achieve your business goals is a different matter altogether. In this article, you’re going to learn how to avoid the 10 biggest mistakes people make when presenting a pitch deck.
But first, what exactly is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is simply a slideshow or presentation that is designed to pitch your company, your services or your products to a select audience. A pitch deck, when done correctly, is a powerful tool that can help you get additional funding from new investors. Whether you’re raising money for the seed round or series A, B, C, and so on, a well-designed and well-presented pitch deck can help your company grow.
Pitch decks are made with presentation software such as PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, Prezi, and many more. For simplicity’s sake, however, we will stick to PowerPoint in this article since it’s still pretty much the de facto presentation software used in many pitch decks. If PowerPoint is not your cup of tea, don’t worry. All the tips here will still apply to your presentation software of choice.
The 10 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid In Pitch Deck Presentations
Ideally, presenting pitch decks should be left to the pros. People who actually know what it takes to convince investors to write out a check and invest in a business. But in the real world, we all know this is rarely the case. So, here are the top mistakes you should avoid when you face the spotlight.
1. Not Making The Presentation Simple Enough
As a presenter, you want to come across as competent, reliable and trustworthy to your audience. As a result, you may think you need to impress them that you know your industry inside and out. While this is perfectly acceptable, you need to check first if your audience is familiar with your industry. In most cases, they won’t be.
If you flood your presentation with technical jargons, your audience will lose interest. What you say will simply fly over their heads, and they’re not going to interrupt you to clarify what you mean. The trick, therefore, is to keep your presentation as simple as possible.
Use simple words to convey complicated ideas. Use simple transitions and animations in your presentation slides so as not to make your audience’s head spin! There’s really no point in complicating your presentation because it will only end up blocking your path to success.
2. Boring And Outdated Pitch Deck Design
You don’t need to have design skills to create a visually-pleasing and professional-looking pitch deck. But you certainly can’t use your lack of creativity as an excuse to go out there and present slides that look like they were created in the 1990’s!
When it comes to pitching, you want to grab your audience’s attention. With an outdated design, you can grab their attention, but it’s going to be for the wrong reasons. They’ll probably write you off as someone who’s not connected to the modern world, someone who’s going not going to know how to handle their investments and financial contributions.
If you don’t want potential investors to think of you like that, then you need to make sure your pitch deck design is going to be visually attractive. The good news is there’s no need for you design your pitch deck from scratch. For starters, you can use free PowerPoint templates and these templates will help you get your pitch deck off to a good start. You can edit it any way you see fit, and you’ll have your very own high-quality pitch deck in a matter of minutes!
3. A Weak Introduction Won’t Get You On The Right Footing With Potential Investors
There’s no shortage of startups looking for investor funding. They want to get the best bang for their buck, so to speak. So, if you want to receive a check made out to your startup, then you need to hook their attention from the get-go. Otherwise, they’ll eventually end up funding somebody else!
It doesn’t matter if you have the most incredible business idea. If you can’t capture your audience and win them over to your side, then your awesome idea is going to waste. Unless, of course, you come up with a way to improve your presentation strategy.
A strong introduction will leave them wanting to know more about your company and what you can do to help them reach their financial goals. They’re not running a charity after all. They need to know they can trust you with their sizeable investments.
4. Your Pitch Is Running A Little Bit Too Long
Investors are busy people. You’ve got to show them you respect their time by making sure you don’t hold them up for far too long. If you’ve only got a 10-minute appointment, then make sure you finish your presentation well before the timer’s up. You don’t want people to keep looking pointedly at their watch or worse, walking out of your presentation.
Time your presentation when you practice. Are you mentioning all the important details? If you aren’t, then cut out the fluff and stick to the things that matter. Remember our first point in this article – you’ve got to keep your presentation simple and direct to the point.
Don’t spend far too long discussing your startup’s history or your founders. Don’t bore them with details. Instead, do your best to keep them on the edge of their seats, excited to know more about your startup. If they would like to know the nitty-gritty details of your business, you can email it to them later on.
5. Don’t Pull Random Numbers Out Of Thin Air
You can’t bluff data on your pitch deck. That’s just an absolutely wrong way to go about building your business. You need to have concrete numbers on your slides. Otherwise, you’re just wasting everybody’s time.
You don’t want to talk hyperboles in your pitch. Sure, you may come up with something that sounds good, but what do you think will happen when you get caught on your bluff? Definitely, nothing good will come of it.
Lawsuits are no joke. You could ruin your reputation by lying about your startup’s data. The best way to go about avoiding this mistake is by actually taking the time to research your market and going out into the real world to prove your idea is feasible.
In short, you need to have concrete data first before you even attempt to get funding from angel investors and venture capitalists alike. There’s simply no better way to prove the opportunity exists. Let the data speak for itself, and you’ll have investors knocking at your door!
6. No Compelling Vision
Many startups fail because they don’t have compelling visions. The founders themselves may think they’ve got something special going on, but investors may beg to differ. If they think you’re simply presenting a rehashed version of another successful startup’s efforts, then they’re not going to give you any money.
When you pitch to investors, it’s your job to convince them they’re going to earn big time if they place a little bit of trust in your company. Convince them with facts and real-life metrics and show them what the future could possibly look like.
If you don’t get much traction on your first few presentations, then you may want to refine or rethink your vision. Again, don’t forget to make sure it’s grounded in reality, and not some fantasy that will be near to impossible to achieve!
7. No Story To Tell
Investors, like most people, love listening to stories. They especially love listening to stories with happy endings. For instance, stories where they invest a certain amount of money and potentially reap huge rewards in the near future!
When telling your story, you’ve got to make it relatable for everyone. Find the common denominator in your audience and use that to craft a story they can very well relate to. Weave your narrative from the very beginning to the happy ending.
Another reason why stories work so well is that it’s more memorable than a presentation filled with dry facts. Just make sure not to overdo it though. Your pitch deck should correlate with your story. It’s going to take a lot of work and practice, but your chances of success may be much higher!
8. Asking Potential Investors To Sign A Non-Disclosure Agreement Or NDA
It’s understandable for people to become wary of sharing their billion-dollar ideas with just about anyone. And many think that the best way to go about protecting themselves is by letting investors sign an NDA even before they present their pitch. If you think this is a good idea, then you’re in for a surprise.
The truth is no legitimate investor is going to sign an NDA. They get pitched all the time. Chances are they’ve probably heard a variation of your idea from one startup or another.
Investors aren’t your competitors, not technically. They invest in startups because they want to make their money work for them. They don’t want to invest the time to build a business that’s going to be exactly similar to yours. It’s true they may have the finances to build a better product than you, but they won’t have the passion to build it. So, no, asking investors to sign an NDA is a big no-no.
9. No Exit Strategy In Place
It probably sounds odd to talk about exit strategies when you’re still in the process of getting funding. It’s like you’re letting people walk away before they even start! But it’s actually a good idea especially if you’re presenting to venture capitalists.
Venture capitalists are looking for ways to grow their investment. They don’t want their money sitting idly in a bank earning a small interest per annum. They want an excellent return in their investment. One of the best ways to convince them to spend a small fortune on your startup is by letting them see just how much their ROI is going to be in just a few short years.
When you present a solid exit strategy or strategies, it means you’ve done your homework. It helps build your credibility and reassures them their money is going to be in good hands.
10. No Clear Value Proposition
Last but not least, most pitch decks lack a clear value proposition. Make it easy for your audience (potential investors) to visualize your value proposition. Why should they choose you over your competitors? What makes you unique? Why should they cut a check for you instead of another startup?
Your value proposition should be relevant to your target market, it should solve specific problems and should have specific benefits, and it should highlight why they should choose to invest in your business.
You need to go back to the basics to define a clear value proposition for your audience. Without it, your amazing story, your visually-stunning pitch deck, and your charming self-aren’t going to be enough to convince your audience to cut that check for you.
Identify your startup’s value proposition and craft a compelling story around it. Don’t focus on your product’s features. Instead, focus on the benefits. You may need to tinker around with the copy, or you can hire an expert copywriter who can bring your product to life.
Are You Ready To Present Your Next Pitch Deck?
As you’ve learned in this article, it would be extremely difficult for anyone to successfully wing their pitch presentations. If you want to get sufficient funding for your business, then you’re going to have to take the time and effort to present a truly compelling and engaging pitch deck. Take note of all the mistakes we’ve covered in this post, and you just might find yourself at the receiving end of a sizeable investment!
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