Have you ever thought of the average attention span per slide when an investor is going through your pitch deck? What kind of pitch deck are investors expecting? Our recent Mucker Growth webinar featuring Matt Gore, the founder of Optio, shares his expertise in assisting startups with pitch decks and securing substantial investments as well as imparting valuable insights on crafting compelling narratives for startups.
As the founder of Optio, a firm specializing in helping founders tell their stories for financial success, Matt shares his reflections on his accidental journey into this niche. While working at Adventure Studio, Matt became the go-to pitch deck expert among friends and family. He then transformed his skills into a thriving business that currently supports founders in raising well over a billion dollars. During the webinar, Matt unveiled his strategies for effective fundraising and pitch deck creation.
Highlighting the time constraints faced by venture capitalists, the need for concise and engaging presentations is emphasized. With an average attention span of just 11.66666 seconds per slide, he introduces four key rules:
be simple, not precise;
show, don't tell;
say what you mean;
tell a story.
Be Simple, Not Precise:
Effective communication for founders requires precision over verbosity. Bullet point-laden slides can often fail to engage the audience, causing them to lose interest before reaching crucial details. For instance, a typical data-intensive presentation slide needs to be transformed from a dense, mundane display to a concise, impactful format. Headlines are essential for adding focus, and succinct one-liners can summarize the necessary information. The strategic use of visuals, such as journal logos or percentage improvements, can enhance the comprehension of the presentation.
The redesign of the Theranos pitch deck (as shown in the slide) is an excellent example of this concept, turning a jumbled list into a compelling narrative. Simplicity is key, as demonstrated in the WeWork slide, where a mere five words encapsulate the financials. In the realm of founder presentations, clarity and brevity become the linchpin for successful communication, ensuring swift understanding in a time-crunched environment.
Uncomfortable simplicity is crucial in engaging potential investors. The Cora pitch deck (as shown in the slide) exemplifies this, focusing on the message of raising $10 million without intricate spending breakdowns. The goal of a pitch deck is to secure a meeting, not to provide exhaustive information, suggesting observing someone unfamiliar with the content to simplify it.
Show, Don’t Tell:
To create a compelling pitch deck, it's important to show rather than just tell. Icon, a successful company, is a great example of this. They placed an image of their first fully permitted 3D-printed house on their cover slide instead of a generic landscape image. This instantly communicated their groundbreaking achievement.
Another example involves regulatory changes, which can be a tedious topic. Instead of explaining them in words, the pitch deck incorporated actual PDFs of the regulatory documents. This visual representation made the abstract notion of regulatory shifts into a tangible reality. The team slide, which can often be dull, was made more interesting by Cora's approach. They used images of team members with a clear hierarchy and a touch of authenticity, making the slide more engaging than a traditional bullet-point list. The lesson to learn here is that visuals can convey the narrative and make information both engaging and comprehensible.
Say What You Mean:
The third rule of effective communication is to express yourself clearly and directly. This principle is inspired by the brevity of newspaper headlines and aims to promote clarity in messaging. To achieve this, it is recommended to structure each slide using a signpost, headline, and evidence.
For example, a slide about the landscaping industry may have lacked impact initially. However, with a revised headline that reads "Today, buying a home is miserable," the message became more powerful and engaging, setting the tone for the rest of the slide.
This approach ensures that the audience understands the main message within seconds. Similarly, when presenting solutions, a slide on Stellos' hybrid rocket engine shifted from a dull "Solution: the Stellos hybrid rocket engine" to an exciting claim – "Our solution is to 4.5x every single rocket's payload." This transformation highlights the importance of stating the main message upfront to capture the audience's attention and set the stage for supporting evidence.
Tell a Story:
In the final part of the rules, the emphasis is on the importance of storytelling in pitch decks. Traditional pitch deck outlines lack the engagement that stories provide.
The narrative structure of a story involves
Introducing a hero (the entrepreneur);
Outlining a conflict or problem (previous startup failure due to SOC 2 certification delay);
Presenting a resolution or solution (automating the process, gaining a happy pilot customer);
Concluding with a call to action (joining the mission to assist other businesses).
Adding a compelling story layer to the information makes it more relatable and engaging for the audience. The speaker encourages the audience to think about which version resonates more, highlighting the efficacy of storytelling in conveying investment opportunities.
Thanks to Matt Gore for sharing this information.
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