Q: When preparing to pitch investors, what are the slides you should include in your deck?

A: In that first meeting, most investors need just 20 minutes to decide if your idea is something they’re excited to pursue. So creating a compelling deck that covers your vision, team and idea in five slides is where you need to put your attention. Before we dig into what those slides should cover, I want to share two small — but very effective — things I highly recommend to engage an investor during your pitch:

Build trust and establish a rapport quickly: Typically, your first meeting with an investor will be a one-on-one pitch. It’s easier than ever to know background details of the person you’re pitching and find something you have in common (school, entrepreneurs, etc), and it’s a proven ice breaker. Another trick I learned from about.me co-founder Tim Young is to avoid projecting your pitch and use your laptop screen to walk through the slides which creates a more comfortable and relaxed environment.

Establish a time frame for your pitch: Investors have a notoriously short attention span so state up front your deck is 5-6 slides, and need just 20 minutes to cover the introductory material. Your deck should be crisp and avoid unnecessary slides, and reinforce this point by numbering each of your slides, one of six, two of six, etc.

Most initial meetings last between 30 to 45 minutes. If your deck takes just 20 minutes that leaves enough time at the end of your pitch to dig into the investor’s input as well as better understand what’s important to them when making an investment. You should be able to convey the big vision and current traction with these five recommended slides:

Cover slide: Must include company logo, meeting date and name of the investor you’re pitching. Use a beautiful full screen picture that captures your idea. Since you’ll likely be in the room early, have this slide displayed when the investor walks in – it’s your first impression.

Slide 1: Team and company snapshot

This is one of the two most important slides in your pitch deck. This slide should include the amount of capital you’re raising and the date you founded the company. Bring your team to life by including pictures of all the key people currently involved including founders, team members, investors and advisors. As mentioned last week, if you can effectively sell the investor on why your team is uniquely qualified to solve the problem you’re tackling, they’ll begin to lean in and give you a fair listen.

Slide 2: Numbers and tracion to date

Share early performance data if your product/service is live. If you’re pre-launch, then include development milestones, user test data, anything that might demonstrate momentum. Also, include your social-media following (Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

Slide 3:  Vision and market opportunity

This is the other most important slide in your deck, as it’s your opportunity to tell investors about the future of your space and how it will evolve. Investors love patterns, and if you can create a narrative that shows how your vision has happened in other categories, you’ll have a better shot at moving the investor from skeptical to believer.

Slide 4: Product demo

This is your opportunity to demonstrate how your product/service is addressing the market opportunity. If you don’t have a working product, you still need to show visuals of what you’re building. Hand drawn images are totally fine if you don’t have visuals developed. You should rehearse your demo 25+ times until it flows naturally.

Slide 5: Go-to-market strategy

You want to clearly demonstrate the fact that you have thought about how to roll out your product and how to capture market share.

Other slides: If you feel like you need additional backup, and you likely will, include those slides in the appendix.

The last thing that you’ll want to think about is the tone that you want to convey. Be engaging and try to avoid a dry, mind-numbing presentation.  At the end of the day, great content makes a great deck.  But if you can sprinkle in some creativity and personality on top of great content, then you have a winning combination.