By Brandon Stapper, CEO of Nonstopsigns
1. Tell a personal story.
Good pitches tell a story, but the best pitches make it personal. You want your audience to be engaged in your presentation and invested in the outcome. If you hook them with a great storyline with yourself at the center and their interests as the preferred outcome, you are far more likely to be successful than if you create a flat pitch that just goes over your offerings.
How do you create a good story? Begin by developing a narrative that follows the classic hero’s journey structure. The hero’s journey is a story arc found in almost every story ever told. Here is the basic plot structure: The hero is happy, then the hero faces a hardship, then the hero overcomes the hardship by changing and, finally, the hero is happy again but in a new way. By building your pitch deck with this story structure, you are more likely to give your audience a reason to pay attention and invest in you.
2. Explain the opportunity and risks.
Do a risk-reward analysis and be clear about the opportunities and challenges that your audience faces. Being transparent will give you credibility and allow your audience to make an informed decision about whether to work with you or not. Your audience does not know the size of the opportunities that exist, and this is your chance to show them what is possible. They also don’t know the challenges, and this is your opportunity to show them the solutions.
If your service is too risky and the opportunity too small, then you might be out of luck. But it is better to be honest about that than to hide the realities during your pitch because the audience will find out about them later on.
3. Show the change your service will create.
You are there to help, so it is important to communicate exactly how you are going to help them with their challenges and what the outcome will be. Change is hard and your audience may be reluctant to go through with the solutions you offer unless they understand what the results will be from the get-go. This will also give your audience a goal to aim for so they know why they are working with you in the first place.
This is a perfect opportunity to use your storytelling skills to show how you are going to help the audience overcome the obstacles they face. Make them feel the result that change will bring by using metaphors, imagery and data to back up your claims about the possible futures that you want them to envision. If you nail this part, you will have the audience in the palm of your hand.
4. Answer the question, why you and not someone else?
One of the key factors of a successful pitch is uniqueness. Your audience has likely heard many similar pitches to yours and they might have preconceptions coming into your presentation. Give them something new to focus on so that they remember you and understand why you are different.
Beyond just uniqueness, you want your audience to see you as an indispensable part of their success. Show your audience why you are necessary and why no one else can do what you do. Build this into the story you tell them by setting up the beginning in a unique and personal way. Then tie that background into the solution you offer to their challenges so the audience can see how your experience and qualities bring something new to the table.
5. Above all, remember your audience.
Always remember that you are talking to other real human beings. People want to be entertained, so reciting practiced lines and dry data points is not going to be enough to win them over.
A good way to do this is to make eye contact and respond to facial expressions. If someone is surprised by something you say, respond with, “That’s surprising, right?” If someone frowns, say something like, “I know it’s not a fun thing to hear, so this is what we are going to do.” By reacting to the audience’s moods, you will keep them engaged and help them stay with you until the end of the presentation.
Brandon Stapper is a self-made entrepreneur and investor residing in San Diego, California. He is currently the CEO of Nonstopsigns.