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Understanding the Difference Between a Pitch Deck and a Presentation Deck

In the startup world, effective communication is crucial for conveying your business vision to potential investors, partners, or customers. Two essential tools for this purpose are the pitch deck and the presentation deck. While they might seem similar, they serve distinct purposes and are used in different contexts. Understanding the difference between these two can significantly enhance your ability to communicate your message effectively.

What is a Pitch Deck?

A pitch deck is a concise, focused presentation designed to provide a high-level overview of your business to potential investors. Since it is usually emailed and needs to stand on its own without your presence, it should contain clear, detailed text to thoroughly explain your business idea.

Following are the key characteristics of a pitch deck:

1. Self-Explanatory Content

Because pitch decks are typically reviewed without you being in the room, they need to be

self-explanatory. This means including more text and detailed descriptions on each slide to

ensure clarity and comprehension.

2. Conciseness and Clarity

Investors have limited time and review many decks. A pitch deck should be brief, usually around 10-15 slides, focusing on delivering key information clearly and succinctly.

3. Investor Focused

The primary audience for a pitch deck is investors. The content is tailored to highlight the business model, market opportunity, financial projections, and potential return on investment. The goal is to stand out and make it crystal clear what you are selling and how the investor stands to make money.

4. Balanced Visuals and Text

While visuals are still important, pitch decks include more text to ensure that all key points are communicated clearly in your absence. Charts, graphs, and infographics can be used to support the text.

What is a Presentation Deck?

A presentation deck is used when you are presenting in person to an audience, whether it be investors, partners, clients, or conference attendees. The presence of the speaker allows the slides to be more visually engaging with less text. Here are the main characteristics of a presentation deck:

1. Speaker Support

Presentation decks are designed to complement your spoken presentation. Since you are there to explain the content, the slides can focus more on visuals with minimal text.

2. Visually Engaging

These decks rely heavily on images, charts, graphs, and infographics to capture and maintain the audience’s attention. Visuals should take up more space than text to create a dynamic and engaging presentation.

3. Flexible Audience

The audience for a presentation deck can vary widely, from investors and clients to industry peers and public audiences. The content is tailored to the specific needs and interests of the audience, with you providing the necessary context and detail.

4. More Slides for Impact

Presentation decks can include more slides because they are likely to use more images to elicit reactions from the audience. The additional slides help keep the presentation dynamic and engaging.

Key Differences Summarized

  • Purpose: A pitch deck is designed to provide a concise, standalone overview to secure interest when you are not present, whereas a presentation deck supports your live presentation, making it more engaging and dynamic.

  • Length and Detail: Pitch decks are shorter (10-15 slides) due to the need for conciseness and clarity, while presentation decks can have more slides to accommodate additional visuals and elicit audience reactions.

  • Content: Pitch decks contain more explanatory text to stand alone, ensuring the investor is crystal clear about the business and potential returns. Presentation decks use visuals to complement the spoken presentation.

  • Audience Interaction: Pitch decks are meant to be read independently by investors, who review many decks and have limited time. Presentation decks are used in person, allowing for interaction and immediate clarification.

Recommended Slides for a Pitch Deck

The Startup Ladies recommend the following slides in a pitch deck when sending it to a prospective investor. We train our investors to look for the following information, so be sure to include it in your slide deck:

1. Company Logo

Start with your company logo to create brand recognition.

2. Problem

Clearly define the problem your business aims to solve.

3. Solution

Explain your solution and how it addresses the problem effectively.

4. Competition + Differentiation

Highlight your competitors and what sets you apart from them.

5. Market: TAM/SAM/SOM

Define your Total Addressable Market (TAM), Serviceable Available Market (SAM), and Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM).

6. How Do You/Will You Make Money?

Outline your revenue model and how your business generates income.

7. If Product - What Does It Cost to Produce?

Provide the cost of production for your product if applicable.

8. Financial Projections (Income vs. Expenses for 3 Years)

Include detailed financial projections showing income versus expenses for the next three years.

9. Traction: Sales, Beta Testers, Letters of Intent, Followers

Showcase any traction your business has gained, such as sales figures, beta testers, letters of intent, and social media followers.

10. Team (Employees and Advisors)

Introduce your team members and advisors, highlighting their expertise and roles.

11. Exit Targets (Who Might Want to Purchase Your Company?)

Identify potential exit targets or companies that might want to purchase your business in the future.

12. Fundraising Goals + Expenses (How You Will Spend the Money Raised?)

Specify your fundraising goals and detail how you plan to allocate the funds raised.

13. Asks

  1. Ask for a specific dollar amount from the investors.

  2. Request introductions to others who may be interested in investing.

  3. Seek contacts who may be helpful to your business.

14. Thanks + Contact Information

Conclude with a thank you and your contact information to make it easy for investors to reach out.


Understanding the difference between a pitch deck and a presentation deck is crucial for effectively communicating your message in different contexts. By tailoring your approach to the audience and purpose, you can enhance the impact of your presentations and better achieve your business objectives. Whether you're emailing a pitch deck to investors or presenting a deck in person, knowing which tool to use and how to use it can make all the difference.

Here's to women winning WAY MORE than 2% of the venture funding in the US. Cheers to female founders and women owned businesses. #InvestInWomenFounders


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