Pitching is a wonderful tool that anybody can use to get a message across. Whether it is a product pitch for your startup, an investor pitch for raising money or an internal pitch in a meeting to persuade your colleagues of an ingenious idea you want to follow through with. Bringing a message across concisely, captivatingly and with the right amount of emotion is key in modern business communications.
Luckily, pitching can be learned like a language and exercised like a muscle – and it gets more and more fun the further you dig down the rabbit hole, too!
In Part 1 of our ‘do’s and don’ts for creating the perfect pitch’, we focused on the very high-level strategic topics of preparing a pitch upfront. If you need a refresher, read up on it here.
Part 2 of this miniseries will deal with the pitch structure, approach and storytelling.
First things first, there is no definitive guideline on the ‘right’ structure of a pitch per se. However, there is a simple rule, which elements have to be covered in a pitch, regardless if it is a 60 seconds elevator pitch or a five minutes investor pitch. These elements are:
- technical/featured approach to solving it
- ultimate benefit or value and a clear call-to-action to the audience what you want from them; a good example for this is the Stanford-developed NABC framework that is easily learned and applied. It stands for Need, Approach, Benefit and Competition (meaning your differentiation from the competition).
For longer pitches, especially investor pitches, the general approach we recommend to our startups and scaleups follows a compelling introduction, for instance with storytelling or a captivating anchor (more on that further down below), description of the problem (important in a business pitch: quantify the problem as much as possible, for example in terms of lost potential revenue, unnecessary man hours or inefficiencies). This then is followed by the solution’s approach (i.e. your product) and the resulting (quantified!) benefits and the value of your product, leading over into who is using it already (traction) and who also could be your customer (market). All this is made credible by covering your team (i.e. who is delivering all this wonderful magic) and lastly a fitting call-to-action.
Regarding elements like market size, business model or competition one has to remember that the attention span is limited and that some elements can deliberately be saved for the subsequent Q&A session as well. Time is always the essence in a pitch so delivering the above-mentioned three critical points can be a bit of a hassle. Luckily, there is a tool to ‘weave them into the pitch structure’ more seamlessly: storytelling.
Basically, storytelling is nothing else but painting a picture instead of using abstract meta-descriptions. For example, instead of just describing a problem that your startup solves for a consumer, imagine a consumer, give him a name and tell the actual user story and paint the use case of your intended solution. This way, the audience can identify itself with the customer persona and follow you more easily. Likewise, this technique also helps to cover points like market size. Instead of designing a slide with a gigantic pie chart and telling the audience that this is a multi-billion dollar market, you can very elegantly mention that your solutions is needed by every car and truck manufacturer (see the pitch structure above). With this little sneaky trick, you save time and you make clear which market you tackle, without the boring billion-sized pie charts.
Lastly, bear in mind that storytelling is not only for B2C products: it works well with B2B solutions, too. Why? Simply because your end user is always a human being, and these you always inspire with a good story.
>>>> AVISO: In part 3 we’ll talk about do’s & don’ts regarding the Q&A as well as training techniques.