If you're a founder trying to raise money, I bet I can tell you the biggest problem with your pitch deck without even needing to look at the presentation.

As an investor myself, I see a lot of pitch decks from entrepreneurs trying to raise money. Of course they span all different stages, industries, and ideas. The founders come from all different ages and backgrounds. 

They are all very different, but they almost always have one thing in common: They fail to truly showcase what is unique about the company.

My advice is always the same the first few times we look at the presentation. Simplify and focus. I also share the following advice:

1. Stop jamming way too much information into the presentation.

You are likely trying to make sure you have a slide to answer every question that every investor could ever ask. The result is information overload; the truly powerful soul of what makes you special is being lost in the weeds of all the data.

Remember that the purpose of a first investor meeting is to raise enough interest to get to the second meeting. The easiest way to do that is to have less information, but to make sure that the information you have is truly compelling. Shakespeare was right: Brevity is the soul of wit.

2. Make it clear what makes you exceptional.

I know you likely have that slide that shows you versus your competitors, but it's pretty vague. And being "lower cost" than the competition isn't necessarily a good thing for me as an investor--it tells me that you might have a tough time capturing value in your space.

What is the thing that makes you truly unique? Don't look at your deck when you answer this. Just look at me and say out loud the single thing that makes you better than everyone else out there trying to solve a similar problem.

3. Make sure that every aspect of the presentation reinforces that uniqueness.

I want you to literally design each section of the presentation to reinforce the one single thing that makes you unique. State that thing explicitly at the beginning and at the end, as well. I know it feels a bit cheap and redundant, but trust me, you don't want to be subtle in communicating what makes your company unique and special.

How does your product slide reinforce your uniqueness? How does your marketing slide do the same thing? Your team slide? So often, each part of the presentation is focused on its one particular niche, not on reinforcing the key message of the deck.

Now go back through one more time.

Is there any claim that you make or piece of evidence you use that your competitors could also reasonably say? If so, figure out how to change that messaging so that it's only applicable to you.

Simplify and focus. Simplify and focus. Rinse and repeat. Simplify so that there is less filler to dilute the core of the message you want to get across. Focus so that it is dead obvious to the listener what makes you compelling, interesting, and unique.