14 words to take out of your VC pitch deck

170 seconds. Weeks or even months of working on your pitch deck could add up to the long run 170 seconds (average) investors spend looking at your deck.

“Investors see a lot of pitches. In a single year, the classic general partner of a venture company is exposed to around 5,000 pitches … and ends up making between zero and two deals”, writes VC and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

With all the pressure to make a difference fast, founders spend an incredible amount of time designing their slides. However, less attention is usually paid to the words on the slide. That’s a mistake, especially when you only have 170 seconds.

When not used intentionally, the words in your deck can be distracting or downright repulsive. We have used our knowledge of language and healthy communication from the millions of documents we have processed writer to find 14 words and phrases to remove from your VC pitch deck:

negative associations

1. “Runway”

Pitching VCs is a balancing act: you want to present your idea in the best possible light, but you also want to show that you have thought about it. However, providing certain types of information voluntarily can have the opposite effect. Do not write: I am seeking X$ financing to provide Y months of runway. You definitely need to show how you’re going to use the funding you’ve asked for, but you don’t want to pitch things in terms of the runway in a pitch deck. The word is associated with an upcoming payout date, which can put an investor in a negative frame of mind.

Caption: This HappySignal Foil is a solid example of keeping your message positive and using uplifting language.

2. “Exit Strategy”

Don’t write: Our exit strategy is… Yes, thinking through your business means knowing how to deal with worst-case and best-case scenarios. But including the exit strategy in your deck can only make investors think about the inherent risks. You want them to focus on the opportunity. You need to know what to say when the topic comes up – just don’t volunteer the information on a slide.


3. “only one percent”

A pitch deck is a tool to show VCs why your idea is worth investing in. The use of clichés can counteract this goal. Don’t write: If we could capture X% of the market… That’s not just a cliché, it’s more wishful thinking than a plan. Justify the text on your slides with relevant facts and figures. Other clichés to break are: the Amazon of X, Imagine a future and Y’s shift to the blockchain.


4. “every”, “always”, “never”, “nobody”

Great pitch requires nuance. Using absolute values ​​to talk about your idea fails in this regard. And if you look more closely, there are probably exceptions to the absolute that is being put up.

When talking about your TAM, target customer, or product value, your words must reflect a thoughtful and measured approach. Using absolute values ​​like “everyone likes X” misses this goal and casts doubt on the validity of your plan.

Subtitle: transom addressable market slide wisely narrows things down to companies with “at least one partnership-oriented employee” in four key market segments. Incredibly specific!

Inaccurate language

5. “unique”

Accurate communication makes it easier to bet that a company has the potential to succeed. But imprecise language is one of the main no-gos we see in pitch decks. Take the word unique. It may seem like an ideal word to show differentiation, but it is imprecise about the nature of uniqueness. Just describe the uniqueness directly, or better yet, the plan to be executed on the uniqueness. Ideas are important – but the plan is what finances companies.

6. “intend”

Good intentions are not the same as a plan. Using the word intent in your pitch deck makes the discussion conceptual and somewhat nebulous. An intention is easier to reject than a plan backed by compelling storytelling.

7. “no competition”

Don’t write “no competition” anywhere in your deck. Like everywhere. At best, it is considered excessive: if there is no direct competition, indirect competition may need to be considered. And at worst, investors might think you haven’t fully explored the market, which means your entire premise might be flawed.

8. “good”

Investors don’t want good ideas, they want the best ideas. Using the word good to describe part of your plan (e.g. good growth) lacks specificity and reduces the credibility of your sales pitch.

Subtitle: wasabi The market slide shows what precise language can do for a deck.

Qualifier (aka Reinforcer)

9. “very”, “well”, “rather”

Brevity is key when working with a visual format like a pitch deck. Not only do qualifiers clutter your slides with unnecessary text, they’re also less precise. Do not write: very, so and quite. Ask yourself a question: What does very rapid growth look like? Your answer would probably be different than someone else’s. Instead, you could talk about X% growth per year to avoid confusion. Again, you want to be as precise and fact-based as possible.

Subtitle: unest avoids the pitfalls of qualifiers like “very quick” onboarding by relying on a succinct “5-minute” claim.

Other things to note:

10. Legibility

Analyzing successful decks, we found an average readability level of grade 10 or 11. For unsuccessful decks, this number was higher – grade 12 or college. Never use technical jargon, keep your sentences simple and contain a maximum of 1-2 sentences per paragraph. To analyze your own deck’s language, try Writer’s legibility Tool.

11. Humor: Just don’t do it

Making a joke on a slide can easily backfire. The last thing you want is for a failed joke to make your pitch uncomfortable or throw you off track. That could ruin the whole process. So it’s best to skip the cover humor and get to what really matters: your plan.

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