Ten Simple Rules to Make a Good Pitch Great

Written by our Master Bill Lewis

Fundraising is a highly competitive professional environment.  Having a great company is not enough — you must also have a great pitch.

Here are ten simple rules to make a good pitch great:

1) Use a standard template

A template is an outline of the slides your seed fundraising deck should include.  Investors see hundreds of decks a month and have a preference for how a pitch is laid out.  Follow it and you follow the thought process of the investor. I recommend these slides, in this order:

  1. Title, hook, and tagline
  2. Elevator Pitch
  3. Problem
  4. Solution/Value Proposition
  5. Market
  6. Go to Market Strategy
  7. Competition
  8. Unfair advantage
  9. Traction
  10. Financials
  11. Team
  12. The Ask

2) Answer the basic questions

Making use of the template ensures you cover the basic questions an investor expects to be answered. Keep the multi-slide deep dive on (for example) your technology or the market for later.

3)  Stay focused

Many founders are tempted to put multiple points on a slide. The template helps you focus on one idea per slide.  Use a large font and diagrams.  Aim for no more than 200 words in the complete deck. Small fonts and text are your enemy, white space is your friend.

4)  Write out the speech, and set the timing

Your presentation should last no longer than 20 minutes.  Great pitches are done from memory.   If you have done the necessary research and built the deck as the summary at the pinnacle of your work (as it should be), you are using key data on the slide as prompts for a presentation that you are capable of delivering.

Treat your presentation as the sculptor treats a statue, when there’s nothing else to take away you have reached your finished masterpiece.

5)  Avoid additional notes

Founders tend to add unnecessary details on the fly when under pressure. Don’t keep voluminous notes on each slide or in your speech document.  Take lessons on how to deliver a great speech

6)  Video yourself

Some founders believe they can present on the fly.  Except for the most accomplished presenter this is a myth.  You need to rehearse, get the flow and timing right.  Watch videos of yourself doing it end to end. A smartphone is all you need.  I guarantee that you will see countless issues on the first take, such as unclear explanations or nervous ticks. All are fixable such.

7)  Get friendly feedback

Don’t immediately start pitching new, potential investors. Do feedback sessions from existing investors or others you know well, at least 5–10 times. Expect feedback that is objective and it will give you a preview of the questions you should prepare for.

8) Use a designer

The quality of design of your pitch deck suggests the quality of the input and thought process.  It has an impact on investors. Find a designer early, get a good one and have time for multiple rounds of edits as the deck evolves.

Allow time for edits based on the feedback you receive during practice sessions. Don’t be afraid to confirm your changes and answers with those who gave feedback, they will usually be glad to continue helping.

9) Plan the process

You can expect between ninety and one hundred and eighty days for the fundraising process.  Beginning with friendly investors, and anyone you can pitch to. You should aim to meet your tier one investors mid-way through the process. This will give you time to polish the pitch and still be early enough in the process that your enthusiasm remains high.

10) Be serious, be focused

Treat the fund raising process with the seriousness if deserve and commit time.  As a Founder CEO you need to commit at least half of your time to the fund raising process, more ideally.  This means you need to plan your management resources and delegate to make sure you remain focused.

Good luck!

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