Why Your Pitch Deck Isn't Getting Anyone's Attention

The majority of entrepreneurs I meet that are within year 1 of their business have a pitch deck.

The minority of these entrepreneurs actually have a pitch deck that’s great — I would say 1% of the pitch decks I’ve seen would score 90% or above if I were to grade it.

Creating a great pitch deck isn’t something I expect an entrepreneur to get right with their own devices — it’s one of those documents that require nuanced skill and knowledge to get right, hence why a lot of entrepreneurs work with a firm like mine to create them.

If you’ve been pitching your heart out with your current deck but don’t know why it’s not getting much attention, it’s likely that you’ve committed 1 or all of these 4 common mistakes I see in startup pitch decks.

No Story To Follow

There are absolutely no new business ideas left on this planet.

You heard me. None.

Startups all provide a reinterpretation or new spin on existing ideas —

It’s the same product but with updated features and new packaging.
It’s the same content but in a virtual environment rather than a physical environment.
It’s the same service but for a different demographic.

With all this sameness, the major differentiator that separates a business idea from a business that makes money is storytelling. 

Successful pitch decks nail down their story — the narrative that wraps around the business is compelling and makes it clear that the business deserves to exist. The narrative has a solid stance that’s unique to the founder(s) and doesn’t throw a bunch of market research at the audience with the hope that they’ll figure out what they’re getting at. 

A pitch deck that doesn’t showcase this narrative and has no story to tell is not a real business — just a pile of statistics, mission and vision statements, and market research without a plot to link it all together.

If you’re not grabbing your audience’s attention from the get-go, look at your deck’s flow between slides and make sure there’s a story that audiences can hold on to from start to finish.

Emailed Deck 

If you’re not able to deliver a pitch presentation in person, do not email the deck without the verbal presentation!

Record a voiceover for your pitch presentation and put it up on Youtube or Vimeo at an easily shareable link so that the viewer can receive the presentation as if it were in person.

Delivering a pitch without the verbal presentation is kind of like watching a TED talk with only the slides and no speaker. The verbal and visual presentations are a necessary pair, and each isn’t as effective by their lonesome.

No Visual Language

Visual language is incredibly impactful and effective if used properly. Experienced designers don’t just make things look pretty, they extract important information from your content to provoke emotion, and to highlight or articulate what words can’t do by themselves.

Therefore, a good pitch deck is designed to play off the verbal communication of your pitch deck, visually enhancing powerful and memorable statements that you want your audience to walk away with. 

(If you don’t get the gist of this conversation already — if you want a good pitch deck, get a good designer on board.)

8-Year Olds Don’t Know What You’re Talking About

This is probably the top culprit of the majority of ineffective pitch decks I’ve seen — communication.

Many entrepreneurs aren’t able to simplify the descriptions for their business because they have the curse of knowledge — they know too much about their business, which prevents them from easily explaining their business in 10 seconds, in lingo that an 8-year old can understand. 

Some easy ways to resolve this is to find a willing, articulate friend or family member that knows nothing about your business’ industry and to have them help you simplify your language. Thoroughly explain your business to your friend or family member and then ask them to tell you in their own words, a description of your business. This usually provides you with clues on how to reframe your language so that it’s easier to digest.

If you want to really nail down this important aspect of your pitch deck (you can also use this language for your marketing materials and website) I recommend working with a copywriter or branding professional to help refine it.


Want to fine-tune your pitch deck even further? Grab my Pitch Deck Checklist.

Sophia Sunwoo