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You’re right 170 seconds. Weeks or even months of working on your pitch deck could boil down to the 170 seconds (on average) that investors spend reviewing it.

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

With all of this pressure to make a quick impact, the founders are spending an incredible amount of time designing their slides. However, less attention is generally paid to the words on the slide. This is a mistake, especially when you only have 170 seconds.

When not used intentionally, the words in your deck can be distracting or downright off-putting. We’ve used what we know about language and healthy communication from the millions of documents we’ve processed at Writer to create 11 words and phrases to remove from your VC presentation:

Negative associations

1. “track”

Pitching VCs is a balancing act: you want to position your idea in the best light, but also show that you have thought through it well. However, volunteering certain types of information can have the opposite effect. Do not write: I am looking for funding of $ X to provide Y months of track. You definitely need to show how you’re going to use the funding you’re asking for, but you don’t want to frame things in terms of track in a pitch deck. The word is associated with an impending withdrawal date, which can put an investor in a negative state of mind.

This HappySignal slide is a good example of keeping your message positive and using uplifting language.

2. “exit strategy “

Do not write: Our exit strategy is … Yes, thinking about your business means knowing how you are going to handle the worst and best scenarios. But put exit strategy in your deck can only get investors to think about the inherent risks. You want them to focus on the opportunity. You need to know what to say when the topic is brought up – just don’t give the information on a slide.


3. “just X percent “

A pitch deck is a tool to show VCs why your idea is worth an investment. The use of clichés may defeat this objective. Do not write: If we could capture X% of the market… This isn’t just a cliché, it’s wishful thinking – not a plan. Keep the text of your slides based on relevant facts and figures. Other clichés to cut include: the Amazon of X, imagine a future, and moving from Y to the blockchain.


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