Karen Katzorke
Karen Katzorke

When you walk into the room to face the investors who very well may alter your entire future in less than an hour, you should be armed with the knowledge that they really do want to be sold. They want reasons to believe in your idea, to champion it, to be emotionally attached to your story and your product. The flip side to this? They also know every red flag in the book that will get you sent out of the room in a heartbeat.

Call it the Shark Tank Syndrome if you will, but investors have noticed an upwards tick in bad pitches over the past few years. Everyone thinks they can land a deal, but the pitches fail because they include too many things investors just don’t care about.

Before you put yourself through the gauntlet, heed the warnings of VCs who have seen it all and make sure your presentation doesn’t feature these no-no’s:

Too much stuff

Yes, we know, very specific. But an overload of content is one of those things that investors can sense in the moment. Superfluous setup slides, overdone graphic and color treatments and the dreaded “End” slide – all of these can cause an investor to violently facepalm. Guy Kawasaki has a helpful guide to the only 10 slides a pitch needs. It’s true, any more than that and you’ve given away too much.

Besides, the star of the presentation should be the President and/or CEO giving it. Cramming too much information in the deck itself gives you less room to speak off-the-cuff (though you should be rehearsed anyway). Only the pertinent details should be on the screen. Investors want to see how you talk about your idea, not how well you can read. Use the slides as prompts to speak about the deeper story.

Guesses and Exaggerations

How confident are you that you have your growth charted correctly, you know your place in the market and your financials leave no stone unturned? If you’re shaky on any of this, at the very least don’t draw attention to it by including a guesstimation in your deck. Investors will hammer you on the specifics and it doesn’t matter to them if you’re proven to be ignorant or you’re purposefully skewing data – if you can’t stand 100 percent by what you’re saying, you’ll lose the pitch.

Likewise, don’t blow smoke up there. Projecting your own massive growth spike will raise eyebrows in the room. Know your competition. Be prepared to show your short and long term plans to indicate to investors that you’ve got the meat to support your claims.

Product Romancing

In a ten minute pitch, spend at most one minute talking about your product’s features. While you should be proud of the idea you’ve worked hard to bring into the world, remember that investors are buying into you. You’re the one that needs to establish credibility – are you someone who will make an investor’s money grow?

If anything, reserve the emotion for when you talk about the ways your product solves real problems. Talk about what you do better than anyone else. If your product/service benefits multiple industries, focus on one key area and highlight it. Don’t make investors consider the market and your place in it – tell them right away why they should believe in you.

Investors have seen it all, so be careful not to include anything in your pitch that they can raise an objection to. Whether you score the capital or not, you want to walk out of the boardroom with your head held high, knowing that you did what most others fail to do: put together a pitch that didn’t waste the investors’ time.