Resist the Urge for Pitch-Slide Overkill

Experts say Less Information is Better

When it comes to pitch decks, skip the fluff and pack a punch. You need to include enough information to generate interest, but not so much that you send your audience to sleep. Here is how you can run with “quality over quantity” and unlock the formula for a perfectly balanced pitch deck.

Ten is usually all you need. A recent study by DocSend of 200 startup pitches found that on average, pitch decks had 19 slides and investors only allocated 3m44 seconds to the overall package. (Source: TechCrunch) Experts agreed that 19 slides was almost double the ideal amount. Sticking as close as possible to ten slides means you distill all of the most pertinent information and leave out unnecessary filler – and your audience will be much more likely to stay engaged all the way through to the final slide.

Must-Have Slides. The study, conducted with Harvard Business School professor Tom Eisenmann, used strong evidence to show that the ten slides you really must include in your pitch deck, in order, are:

  1. Company Purpose
  2. Problem
  3. Solution
  4. Why Now?
  5. Market Size
  6. Product
  7. Team
  8. Business Model
  9. Competition
  10. Financials (Source:

Keep it Simple. Research shows the slides that typically have the most time spent on them are: “Financials, Team, Competition” and “Why Now?”. (Source: StartUpLandMillions) But that doesn’t mean you should go overboard on these four slides. All slides should be succinct and minimalistic. Twelve percent of investors read decks from their mobile phones, so make sure yours looks good on a tiny screen. (Source: Docsend)

What, When, Why. Onevest co-founder Alejandro Cremades said every second counts when an investor checks out your presentation. “For that reason you need to be very clear and concise with what I call the Three W‘s, which relate to the ‘What, When, and Why’ of your business,” he said. “You want to capture the attention of the investor very quickly.” (Source: BillionDollarCompanies)

Be Up-front. Forbes contributor and successful entrepreneur Chance Barnett said people often crammed too much information into their pitch decks, pushing the most important content to the back. “I encourage founders to put their key numbers and traction at the very beginning of their deck,” he said. “You want to leave some questions unanswered, hit the big points in a clear way, and avoid over-sharing,” he said. (Source: FORBESChanceBarnett)

Axe the Bullets. Palo Alto Software COO actually recommended using 11 slides, but also pointed out that the goal of your pitch deck was not to raise money. “The real goal of your pitch deck is to get to the next meeting,” he said. “Simple and straightforward presentations always do better than detailed presentations full of bullets”. (Source:

Memorable Thesis. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman knows a thing or two about pitching and recommends starting and ending with your investment thesis: “You should end on a slide that you want people to be paying attention to,” he said. “You want that slide to remind your investors why they should invest in your company”. (Source: ReidHoffman)

Hold off on the Product. Airbnb’s pitch deck is a renowned model of all that a pitch deck should be. Forbes contributor Tom Taulli said it was effective because it “hooked its audience” and did not get too deep in the weeds. “It showed pain points and pithy solutions early, avoiding the annoying trend of beginning with the product,” he said. “There is no product description until slide#6 – more importantly, it only shows the core functions”. (Source: TomTaulli)


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