How Long Should Your Startup Pitch Take?

Imagine you’ve been invited to present your company to the full partnership of a VC firm. You bring the executive team with you because you felt it was the right thing to do.

You start out your pitch to the partnership.

You barely get going before one of the partners interrupts you and says, “Before you get started, we’d like to learn about you and your team.”

You give your bio to the partners. Then the four other executives you’ve brought with you give their bios too.

Twenty minutes go by before you go back to your pitch.


The partner said you only had one hour to present, and now you’ve blown twenty minutes on your bios. Worse yet, you’ve lost your audience.

I’ve seen the mistake of spending too much time on the bios repeated too many times to count.

And it’s really painful to watch.

It’s painful because now you will have to rush through the rest of your presentation.

You’ve got maybe 40 minutes left before the partners say you’re out of time.

And you’ve got how many slides to get through?

You’ll be okay assuming you don’t get interrupted, but you want to get interrupted. You want the partners to ask you questions.

That’s why…

You need to prepare ahead of time.

Here are some simple steps you can effectively pitch regardless of the time you have:

A. Get your first slide right.

Your first slide makes or breaks your presentation. Get the first slide right, and you can have your audience eating out of your hand.

Get the first slide wrong, and your audience will be reaching for their iPhones.


B. Rehearse and record your rehearsals.

Yes, rehearse your pitch, and time how long it takes to get through your pitch without any interruptions. You will learn a couple of things by rehearsing and recording your rehearsals:

a. You’ll learn the weak spots of your presentation.

Your weak points will be really clear when you listen to the playback contrasted with your strong points where you can speak forever.

b. You’ll learn what areas need to simplified or cut.

Most of us have a tendency to overly complicate our pitches. You want to go the other way and make it really easy for your audience to understand how you are different.

Keep refining your pitch until you get it right. Then…

C. Rehearse your bios.

You the CEO should give your bio in two minutes maximum. The rest of your team should take one minute maximum each.

This isn’t about ego, it’s about not getting stuck. Make sure your team understands before they get in front of investors. Then…

D. Only bring team members that are going to add value.

Only bring yourself and the CTO or VP Engineering if you are the only two people that are going to speak and answer questions. Bringing the rest of your team isn't going to help you.

Remember that each member of your team is going to feel compelled to add value in the meeting. And this could be a problem if they provide an unexpected answer. Finally…

F. Make sure to allocate enough time for Q & A.

Let’s say you have a one hour time slot to pitch. I’d probably leave at least 20 minutes for Q&A, so that means the pitch has to be less than 40 minutes.

Let’s say you only have 30 minutes. You still should leave probably at least ten minutes for Q&A, so you’ll have to shorten your pitch to 20 minutes.

You’ll be prepared regardless of the situation if you focus on getting your first slide right, rehearsing, rehearsing your bios, only bring team members that add value, and allocating enough time for Q &A.

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For more, read: How To Successfully Pitch Your Business In One Slide

Read original answer on Quora.