As venture capitalists, we receive a huge amount of pitch decks. Before deciding whether they are interesting at all, we screen them quickly. Then, if one seems interesting, we re-read more carefully. And if we still like it after that, we initiate a dialog.
We know that this screen-quickly-first approach is a very common. The company Docsend makes software that enables companies provides to check if or when their recipient open a document, and how long they each and average look at each page. In a study of 200 pitch decks, Docsend and a Harvard professor analyzed what happened with 200 startup pitch decks, as they were emailed to investors. On average, investors spent just 3 minutes and 44 seconds studying a forwarded pitch deck.
So here is a trick to get your message through under these circumstances:
1: Write down a version of your elevator pitch which has, say, 12–15 sentences.
2: Make each of these sentences the headline of a slide in your pitch
In our experience, this approach makes it a lot easier to get a feel for what the story is — very quickly.