Matthew Bellantoni

A Grand Unified Theory of Pitch Deck Slide Count

semi-serious

Over the past several years, there's  been something of a cottage industry around advice concerning the number of slides that an entrepreneur should have in their pitch deck.  Unfortunately, much of this advice—at first glance!—appears to be contradictory.

In this humble essay I will offer a theory that will demonstrate that this advice is, in fact, entirely consistent.

The Theory

The theory states that the number of slides in a pitch deck should be directly related to the font size (in points) that is used in the pitch deck.  More specifically, the relation is described by this linear equation:

lengthpitch deck = f(sizefont) = (0.29)sizefont + 0.39∏

The Method

I gathered data from the following two data points (because a line needs two data points!)

Point 1: Guy Kawasaki's approach outlined in the blog post "The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint," specified ten slides with 30 point font.  (I'm picking this post because it's the first one I remember seeing.)

Point 2: Tim Young's post "365 days, $10 Million, 3 Rounds, 2 Companies, all with 5 Magic Slides," advocates for five slides.  (I'm picking this one because it's the most recent post of this sort I've read.)  He doesn't say what font size he uses, but inspecting the slides in his post it looks like 12 point or 14 point font, so let's call it 13 point.

Just plot these in Excel and it will spit out the above equation (without the pi.)  I didn't do the math, but I figure the error in my calculation is probably +/- 1%.

Corollaries

There are a couple of corollaries that can be easily drawn:

  1. Since the smallest font size available (on PowerPoint, anyway) is 8 points, the would suggest that, theoretically, the shortest possible pitch deck is 4 slides.
  2. It also follows that since there doesn't seem to be an upper bound to font size (in PowerPoint, anyway) pitch decks may theoretically be infinitely long!

Next Steps

Wikipedia states that "[t]heories are analytical tools for understanding, explaining, and making predictions about a given subject matter." So, it is necessary that an experiment is performed and that the GUTofPDSC correctly predict the result.

Here is the proposed experiment.  This Summer, Fred Wilson advocated for a Six Slide Pitch deck, but then did not provide a specimen of such a pitch deck.  The theory predicts that when Fred Wilson does provide such an example, it will have a font size of 16 points to 17 points.

Conclusion

Use as many slides as you like in your pitch deck, just make sure you use the correct font size on them. Also, don't try and assemble a deck of less than four slides, because it's theoretically impossible.

In Closing

The analysis has been performed, the theory constructed, the conclusions drawn and the prediction made.  The matter is now in the hands of  the experimental community.

I eagerly await your peer review and experimental results!