I don’t care how many slides you have in your deck. There is no magic number. What I care about is understanding all and only what’s relevant for me to figure out if this investment is a). sufficiently in my wheelhouse — i.e., stage, sector, model, traction, team, and, b). that the story is presented in a cogent and compelling way.

If you can do that in 9 slides, you’re a master. But most small slide decks suck because they try to cram three slides worth of info into each slide, often because someone told them their deck was too long or because they read somewhere that there is some magic number of slides that should be in a deck. Or because they think that their deal is so good that a ‘teaser’ deck is all they need — if I can’t see the brilliance of the opportunity in five slides then that’s my problem.

If it takes you 19 slides then you could probably benefit from some pitch deck coaching. But if the deck is well organized, the slides are easy to understand and every slide materially contributes to a cogent narrative that helps me understand what’s special about your project, then we’re all good. But that’s the exception.

Most long decks suck because they include stuff that just isn’t relevant to what an investor needs in a deck. With so much information packed into that long deck, the probability is high that the deck will meander illogically through the narrative and over-explain things that just don’t matter — very often too much space is spent on the product and the tech. And too much about the future greatness the startup is going to attain — while at the same time neglecting to tell what the startup has already accomplished. Long decks are also the world’s greatest source of terrible graphics, i.e., irrelevant, confusing, and distracting.

In the end, if decks are too short or too long (or a dozen other faults) it’s because founders don’t understand what investors are looking for. That’s why we offer Startup Haven members three ongoing workshops: Pitch Coaching, Capital Strategy, and Groundwork Growth. Check them out here.