This is the second article of six written especially for students who want to improve their pitching skills.
You have probably already witnessed a ton of uninspired presentations in school. But perhaps you haven’t given it too much thought, what the difference between a good and a bad presentation is. One difference is storytelling.
Once upon a time…
The value of using storytelling as a frame for your presentation is a relatively new concept in the world of business and startups, but it’s on the rise. . It makes good sense to start looking at your pitch as some sort of experience where you make the crowd identify with the story you share with them on stage. That’s why plot and characters that we know from the realm of movies can be very applicable to pitching.
When using storytelling, you take on the ancient mechanics of the three-act-model.
1) In the first act we are presented with the characters, and the world they live in – could be a prince and a princess from a fairyland, or some people in the audience living an everyday life with their best friend; a dog.
2) In the second act, a problem or conflict are introduced – the prince is transformed into a frog, or the dog is threatened by a virus that will push all dogs toward extinction; which would be heartbreaking to the audience.
3) Luckily, the conflict is resolved in the third act – the princess kisses the frog, the prince becomes a prince again, and they live happily ever after. And there is also someone, who has invented a medicine for the pets, so that the prince and the princess can buy a dog with a wagging tail, without the fear of an aggressive sickness tragically killing it anytime soon.
This is how you use storytelling in your own pitch!
A way to build up the story in your pitch is made by Andy Raskin. By using the five elements he finds necessary, and in the right order, you can quickly make your own presentation interesting to the audience.
1: Name the enemy … start by naming the thing that’s getting in the way of your customer’s happiness. Do that by painting an emotionally resonant picture of how your customer is struggling, who/what is to blame, and why. – Andy Raskin
Example: “The winter is tough on the skin. Maybe you remember, how dry you get in the face, or how you crack in every joint, how it itches everywhere, and how you get bleeding wounds when you finally give in to the temptation.”
2: Answer “Why now?” … Audiences — particularly investors — are skeptical. They’re thinking, “People have lived this way for a long time — are they really going to change now?” – Andy Raskin
Example: “We live in a time where scientists find, that we will see more and more extremities in the weather. Luckily that means our summers are getting warm up here. But it also means, that the winters will get longer and colder. In fact, we have a tiny ice-age coming along soon.
3: Show the promised land before explaining how you’ll get there … Showing the enemy’s defeat before explaining how you’ll make it happen can feel wrong for novice presenters — like blurting out the punchline before you’ve told a joke. But when an audience knows where you’re headed, they’re much more likely to buckle in for the ride. – Andy Raskin
Example: “There is a time, where you don’t need to worry about your skin many months a year. A time, where you don’t need to buy all kinds of lotion to hang in there. That time is now. We have invented a medicine, that gives your skin elasticity all year round. All you have to do is to eat this pill twice a year.”
4: Identify obstacles—then explain how you’ll overcome them … Now that you’ve shared your vision of the future, (a) lay out the obstacles to achieving it and (b) show how your company/product/service will overcome each one. (There had better be some big, nasty obstacles — otherwise who needs what you’re selling?)* – Andy Raskin
Example: “Right now we are officially testing the product. It needs approval, before it’s legal for us, to sell to you. But the good news is, that the pill doesn’t show any side effects, so it is just a matter of time, before you can get your hands on the product.”
5: Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air … Again: audiences are skeptical. So you must give them evidence that the future you’ve laid out is, indeed, attainable … For early- stage companies and products, demos … can serve as evidence, though results from early customers are more compelling. Least persuasive— but better than nothing — are testimonials from potential customers explaining why they would buy.* – Andy Raskin
Example: You show a short movie, interviewing the test-persons about their good experiences using the pill.
If you are missing a very good example to kickstart your own pitch, we’ve added Elon Musk’s presentation right here.