The success of a pitch often depends less on what is said than on how it is said.
Because emotions shape decisions, not logic. Human brain is hardwired for receiving and imparting stories, making it essential for founders to persuade the emotional part of the brain when pitching investors.
But How does one achieve that? By using the art of storytelling during the pitch.
Tinder’s original pitch deck, when it was still called Match Box, is an excellent example of pitching a short, relatable story rather than a product.
How to Pitch With the Art of Storytelling
Think of it this way: Investors invest in people first and ideas second. They want to hear the story of a user's need and how the founder plans to solve it.
Instead of pitching, "I made XYZ, a platform that does 1, 2, and 3," tell a story of how you stumbled upon a problem and realised there’s a better way to solve it.
Here’s how you can build an effective pitch that captures attention:
- Research well
A good and convincing story is a relatable one. Instead of delivering a rote pitch, try to insert instances that speak to the audience. For that, you need to research who the investors are, where they come from, and what they are looking for.
- Establish the need
The most common question investors have on their minds is, "What problem is the startup trying to solve?" From the get-go, define that need by putting forth a definite, concise statement of the problem. Then wrap it in a story with an example illustrating the need.
- Be narrow, not vague
Paul Graham’s guidance on how to pitch to investors says it impeccably "Your primary goal is not to describe everything your system might one day become but simply to convince investors you're worth talking to further." Yes, the possibilities are endless at an early stage, but try to keep the pitch description concise and precise.
- Flesh it out
Fill the narrow explanation with colour by adding characters to the pitch. Define the problems they faced and how they discovered a solution (your startup) to solve the issue. Close by demonstrating the impact it had on this character's life. Once you have the story down pat, practise it. Practise it some more, and then one more time.
- Don’t get too numerical
Information and numbers are important in a pitch. But too much of it is distracting. An early-stage startup doesn’t need to have great financial projections or a great business model. Just get the basics right. Then add meaning by telling the story of what inspired the startup or what your beliefs are. It instantly sets a founder apart.
- Keep it simple
Get rid of business or marketing speak, jargon, and ambiguous terms. Use the simplest language, particularly if there is limited time, so it’s easy to digest. An effective tactic to simplify pitches is to walk the audience through the user path.
Investors hear a lot of pitches, so they don’t remember data or important-sounding words. What sticks is a catchy phrase. It’s why veterans advice including a sound bite – a short phrase like "we’re the Ola of influencer marketing."
- Brevity is the key
Attention spans are short. Take the first pitch and edit ruthlessly. Remove preambles so you get to the point quickly. Eliminate too much text from slides. Share the most important points right at the start. Analyse what matters and what doesn’t to reach a succinct pitch, albeit a compelling one.
- Don’t ramble
Stories have the unwitting tendency to stretch. So be on the lookout for signals that the idea has hit home. The minute it does, wrap up. The more you pitch after it, the more likely it is that you will say something unconstructive, undoing the positive outcome.
Pitches matter. They can either plunge a startup into obscurity or get it off the ground. So, founders have to make it count, and a compelling story is a fantastic way to give it a strong start.
Don’t pitch the product or service like a boilerplate. Change the perspective to "selling an experience." And if you need help creating a pitch with a wow moment—that instance when investors get the idea behind the startup—reach out to Scalix.