Over the last week or so, I have seen quite a few pitch decks from VC fund managers who are either raising a new or follow-on fund investment fund. One of the interesting things about the majority of these meetings is not going page by page through the firm’s pitch deck in its entirety. It’s a small observation, but meaningful in a lot of ways.
Let me first set the stage and say that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a pitch deck. Pitch decks are a concise way to highlight whatever it is a person wants to get across to a group of people, and in some cases they can be very helpful. Pitch deck length and content especially matter when, say, you have to give a presentation to a room of 100+ people you don’t know. In these type of situations, having a pitch deck is often necessary. But when you’re in a small group setting with maybe 6 or 7 people in total, going page by page through a pitch deck is often unnecessary and can be a little awkward.
Fortunately, most people we meet with usually send us their pitch deck in advance of the meeting for our review. In my opinion, this should be a standard best practice. Sending the deck in advance of the meeting allows the reader to get an overall sense of the firm or company without overwhelming them with too much detail. The details should be reserved for face-to-face meetings with the deck serving as a reference.
From my perspective, I am often more impressed when pitch decks are presented in a conversational manner without going through them slide by slide. This makes me feel like the presenter is well-prepared, confident, and knows (by memory) everything anyone might want to know about their offering.
In the past, I myself have been guilty of relying too much on a pitch deck and totally bombing because I bored my audience to death by droning slowly through each slide, or I was unprepared and relied too heavily on the deck for support and didn’t provide much necessary color commentary. Anyone and everyone who has ever made a presentation is all too familiar with both of these scenarios. It’s not fun and is excruciating for both the presenter and presentees.
In summary, the “un-pitch deck” pitch is suitable and appropriate for many situations, especially those where you’ve sent the pitch deck out in advance of the meeting. I like to assume that most people are smart enough to read a pitch deck and get a broad enough sense for what’s going on. Unless you’re dealing with super technical information or presenting to a large, not previously known group of people, keep your pitch deck to the side as a reference and let yourself (rather than your deck) shine at your meetings. Cheers -KM