What makes a bad pitch deck?

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What makes a bad pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a crucial instrument for startups or businesses seeking investment or funding. This presentation encapsulates your company’s core proposition, business strategy, and growth potential. The significance of an expertly structured pitch deck cannot be overstated—it often serves as the deciding factor in obtaining funding and propelling your company’s expansion. Conversely, a substandard pitch deck can produce a negative impact, prompting investors to view your company’s prospects with skepticism and doubt.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the characteristics of an ineffective pitch deck and provide strategies to evade typical blunders that could undermine your pitch’s effectiveness.

Lack of Clarity and Focus

clarity and focus

by Eric BARBEAU (https://unsplash.com/@ericbarbeau)

One prevalent pitfall in pitch decks is the absence of clarity and focus. Entrepreneurs frequently err by including an excessive amount of information, which can lead to investor confusion and information overload. A well-conceived pitch deck should be succinct, emphasizing the most salient aspects of your business, and should follow a logical sequence to facilitate investor comprehension.

To sidestep this common error, it’s crucial to distill your pitch to its essential elements. Craft a cohesive narrative that interweaves these key points, steering investors through your presentation seamlessly. Visuals and data can be potent tools to corroborate your assertions; however, be mindful not to inundate your audience with an excess of figures and graphs, which can detract from your core message.

Crafting a Compelling Narrative

When developing your pitch deck, consider the storyline you’re presenting. Investors are often captivated by a compelling narrative that paints a vivid picture of your company’s journey, challenges, and triumphs. Ensure that each slide contributes to this narrative, and avoid including any element that does not support the overarching story. A focused narrative will not only maintain investor interest but also reinforce the coherence of your business proposition.

Simplifying Complex Information

It’s also critical to simplify complex information to make it accessible to your audience. Avoid industry jargon and acronyms that might not be familiar to all investors. Instead, use clear, straightforward language and examples to elucidate complex concepts. Remember, your goal is to communicate your business’s value proposition as clearly and effectively as possible.

Poor Design

poor design

by Gonzalo Pedroviejo Gómez (https://unsplash.com/@photographygon)

The design of your pitch deck is a direct representation of your brand’s identity. A pitch deck that’s lacking in design quality can leave investors with a negative impression, making your business appear amateurish. Common design mistakes include an overuse of conflicting colors, fonts, and graphics, which can create a sense of chaos and detract from your message. Ensuring your pitch deck is visually engaging and readable is of paramount importance.

For a pitch deck that captivates, adhere to a restrained color scheme and limit your font selection to two or three complementary styles. Employ high-quality images and graphics that align with and bolster your message, avoiding generic clip art or pixelated images. Aim for a minimalist design with ample white space to facilitate easy reading and maintain a clean, professional look.

Consistency is Key

Consistency in design is as vital as the design itself. Ensure that every slide adheres to the same design principles, with consistent use of colors, fonts, and formatting. This consistency helps in creating a professional and polished look that enhances the credibility of your presentation.

Visual Hierarchy and Emphasis

Incorporate a visual hierarchy into your design to guide the viewer’s attention to the most important information. Use size, color, and placement to highlight key points, and consider the use of infographics to present complex data in a digestible format. A well-thought-out visual emphasis can significantly increase the impact of your pitch deck.

Lack of Differentiation


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A primary objective of your pitch deck is to establish a clear distinction between your business and your competitors, convincing investors of your unique value proposition. Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of concentrating excessively on their product or service features without adequately showcasing what sets them apart from the crowd. This lack of differentiation can render your business unremarkable and unattractive to potential investors.

To circumvent this pitfall, ensure that your pitch deck highlights your unique selling points—be it an exclusive technology patent, a robust and experienced team, or an innovative business model. Demonstrate how your offering addresses a need that competitors cannot fulfill and explain why your company is poised for success.

Defining Your Competitive Edge

Delve into the specifics of your competitive advantage. Whether it’s a unique pricing strategy, exceptional customer service, or a groundbreaking approach to the market, make sure to articulate this clearly. Provide concrete examples of how your business has successfully leveraged this competitive edge in the past or how you plan to do so in the future.

Leveraging Testimonials and Case Studies

Including testimonials or case studies from satisfied customers or clients can effectively illustrate your competitive edge. These real-world examples serve as social proof that your business delivers on its promises and stands out in the marketplace.

Unrealistic Financial Projections

financial projections

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Financial forecasts are a cornerstone of any pitch deck, offering insight into your company’s prospective growth and profitability. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs sometimes create implausible financial projections in an attempt to impress investors. Such unrealistic estimates can be counterproductive, as investors may deem them unreliable and question your judgment.

To prevent this error, adopt a realistic and prudent approach to your financial forecasts. Ground your projections in thorough market research and industry norms, and be ready to substantiate them with robust data. Investors are more inclined to trust conservative projections that are supported by concrete evidence than those that are overly optimistic without any factual basis.

Establishing Credible Assumptions

Your financial projections should be built on credible assumptions that can be explained and justified. Clearly outline the reasoning behind your revenue growth rates, cost assumptions, and other financial metrics. If your assumptions are sound and well-justified, investors will have more confidence in your projections.

Highlighting Milestones and Metrics

Present key milestones and metrics that are significant to your business’s financial health. This could include break-even points, customer acquisition costs, lifetime value, and other critical financial indicators. By focusing on these metrics, you can demonstrate a deep understanding of your business’s financial dynamics and a clear path to profitability.

Lack of Storytelling


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Beyond the conveyance of data and statistics, a persuasive pitch deck weaves a narrative that captures and retains the attention of investors. A common mistake is the creation of a pitch deck that is devoid of emotion and narrative, leading to a presentation that is forgettable and uninspiring.

To eschew this oversight, concentrate on forging a narrative that resonates with investors on an emotional plane. Incorporate anecdotes, personal stories, and examples that make your points tangible and relatable. An engrossing story aids investors in grasping your company’s vision and potential, rendering your pitch more convincing.

Using Story Arcs to Your Advantage

Consider using classic story arcs to structure your pitch. This could involve presenting a problem, the journey to find a solution, and the eventual triumph. This familiar structure can help investors connect with your story and better understand the context and significance of your business.

Personalizing Your Pitch

Personalizing your pitch can be a powerful way to stand out. Share your personal motivation for starting your business and the passion that drives you. This personal connection can be very compelling and help investors see the dedication and commitment behind your company.

Lack of Market Research

market research

by Austin Distel (https://unsplash.com/@austindistel)

Investors are keen to invest in entrepreneurs who exhibit a profound comprehension of their target market and the needs of their customers. Many entrepreneurs, however, make the assumption that their offering will be universally appealing without conducting adequate market research. This oversight can render your pitch unfocused and fail to persuade investors.

To evade this misstep, conduct comprehensive market research and compile data regarding your target demographic, their purchasing behaviors, and their pain points. Utilize this data to demonstrate a demand for your product or service and to show that you have a well-formulated strategy to reach your target audience.

Understanding Customer Personas

Develop detailed customer personas to give investors a clear picture of who your customers are. These personas should include information on customers’ backgrounds, interests, and behaviors. By presenting well-researched customer personas, you can show investors that you understand who you are selling to and how to effectively meet their needs.

Presenting a Go-to-Market Strategy

Your market research should inform a strategic go-to-market plan that you can present to investors. This strategy should outline how you intend to capture market share, the channels you will use to reach customers, and how you plan to scale your operations. A clear and actionable go-to-market strategy can significantly bolster your pitch deck’s persuasiveness.

Lack of Preparation


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The initial presentation of your pitch deck to investors is critical, as it sets the tone for their perception of your company. Yet, many entrepreneurs overlook the necessity of thorough preparation for their pitch, resulting in a presentation that may come across as amateurish. This lack of preparedness can be perceived as a red flag by investors, suggesting a lack of professionalism.

To steer clear of this trap, rehearse your pitch deck multiple times before delivering it to investors. Be well-equipped to respond to queries and address any concerns they may present. It is also prudent to have contingency plans in place for technical glitches or other unforeseen complications that may arise during your presentation.

Anticipating Investor Questions

Anticipate the questions investors are likely to ask and prepare clear, concise responses. This preparation shows that you are not only knowledgeable about your business but also that you have considered various aspects of your business strategy and potential challenges.

Adapting to Your Audience

Understand that each investor may have different interests or concerns, and be flexible in your presentation to address these. Be prepared to go into more detail on certain aspects of your business or to skip over sections that may not be as relevant to a particular investor. Tailoring your pitch to your audience can make a substantial difference in its effectiveness.

How a Pitch Deck Coach Can Help

pitch deck coach

by Simon Maennling (https://unsplash.com/@simon_m1)

The creation of a standout pitch deck that leaves a lasting impression on investors requires time, dedication, and a certain level of expertise. Working with a pitch deck coach can help you sidestep common pitfalls and produce a compelling pitch deck that highlights the promise of your company.

A pitch deck coach can offer critical insights and advice on your pitch deck, helping you to refine your message and ensure that your presentation is coherent, concise, and visually impactful. They can also assist you in practicing your pitch and preparing for investor inquiries and objections.

Expertise and Experience

A pitch deck coach brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the table. They can draw on their knowledge of what has worked for other successful startups and help you avoid common mistakes that could hinder your chances of success. This expert guidance can be invaluable in crafting a pitch that resonates with investors.

Personalized Feedback and Support

Pitch deck coaches provide personalized feedback that is tailored to your specific business and industry. They can support you in honing your pitch to emphasize your unique strengths and address potential weaknesses. This one-on-one support can make a significant difference in your confidence and the overall quality of your pitch deck.



by Alexander Schimmeck (https://unsplash.com/@alschim)

A subpar pitch deck can be the undoing of a promising venture. By circumventing common errors and enlisting the aid of a pitch deck coach, you can develop an impactful pitch deck that captures the attention of investors and secures the capital necessary for your business’s expansion. Concentrate on the pivotal points, weave a compelling tale, and substantiate your assertions with data. A meticulously crafted pitch deck can pave the way to success and leave a lasting impression on investors.