Many entrepreneurs will pitch their business at some point, whether a short elevator pitch or a longer pitch presentation. Pitches can be a useful way to concisely communicate your business’ plan of action. Effective pitches captivate the audience and clearly articulate the product, the plan, and the purpose. Done well, startup pitches can be an effective tool to help inform potential investors, engage potential customers, and gain support. Telling a story through a pitch can help engage listeners and keep them connected to your mission.
There are two main types of pitches: a shorter elevator pitch presentation or a longer pitch presentation. Elevator pitches are typically completed in the time it takes to ride an elevator, hence the name, and are commonly around 30 seconds. Pitch presentations can range from 10-20 minutes and are more in depth than their quick counterpart. However, both types of pitches generally contain the same information, and the level of detail is where the two differ. The order of which the components are organized within the pitch may differ, but the main types of information pitches can contain include the following.
One aspect of the pitch is to explain what the company does. What is the company’s product or service? What does the company offer that other companies do not? Effectively capturing what the company does can be crucial for listeners to understand your business.
The next component answers the question “why is this business important?” Why is the product or service necessary? Is it something new that hasn’t been done before? Is it taking a new approach to something existing? Explaining why there is a market need and why the company exists in the first place helps listeners understand the intention behind the business.
Next, founders must answer the question “how will the company make money?” Understanding how the company will reach customers and how will it grow and scale in the future can help listeners see the potential of the business.
Who is involved in the success of the company? Who are the customers that will be purchasing the product or service? Identifying the target market and highlighting the team behind the business can help listeners understand the foundation of the business and potential growth opportunities.
Storytelling can be an important component to any pitch, as studies have shown that a listeners’ brain waves begin synchronizing with the storyteller, lighting up areas in the brain in functional MRI scans. Brain waves from the listener can mirror the storyteller and help the brain process complex information. Adding storytelling to your pitch can help the listeners become more connected to your startup pitch and understand the ins and outs of your business.
One way to effectively add storytelling can be a founder learning and researching their audience and their backgrounds before a pitch. If they have never been exposed to your industry or you are offering a novel product, some additional context may be needed to help them understand the complexities. Knowing the audience allows entrepreneurs to tailor their pitch to their audience for the greatest level of understanding.
The ideation of the business tends to be an effective way to add storytelling. A personal experience or past need recognition may have spurred on the initial idea for the business. For example, a founder may see a family member’s personal experience with chemotherapy drugs which inspires them to develop a novel way to administer chemotherapy drugs to help mitigate the negative effects. The personal connection to the original “why” behind the business can foster a strong emotional connection from a listener. This can show listeners the dedication to the concept, bringing them in tune to the mission of the business, whether they have had a similar experience or not.
Effective storytelling is all about engaging the audience from beginning to end. In order to capture attention, a founder could hook in the audience early, whether through visualization like putting the listeners into a scenario, or empathy through an emotional connection. Entrepreneurs may also want to avoid jargon and complex terminology that the listeners may not understand, especially with complex industries, like medical, manufacturing, technology, and others that require a high level of understand. Relating the company to what listeners have experienced themselves and communicating it at a level at which they understand helps ensure efficient communication.
It is important to try and understand what listeners may take away from your presentation. Differentiation can be useful to set the company apart from similar startups, competitors, and even other companies pitching ideas in the case of a pitch event. A listener may not always remember the company name or who founded it, but they are more likely to remember what the company does and how it sets itself apart.
Efficiently adding storytelling to your pitch is not about spewing data points or complex facts and figures. While both of these can be important in pitches, storytelling focuses on the beginning, current, and future operations of the business. Relating aspects of the business to what listeners have experienced can help foster deep connections and understanding. Science has shown that storytelling can allow founders’ and listeners’ brains to synchronize, helping the listener understand complex information. The personal connection developed through storytelling can help your pitch stand out from a crowd.