Anytime you are cramming information into anything, whether a pitch, a presentation or a page, you are doing the wrong thing.
This came up the other day after screening companies for the Angel investors and in the pitch, there is a lesson for all of us.
I had a conversation with one of the presenters because a few of us thought that he had the kernel of an interesting idea with potential, but he was not communicating effectively.
His slides were full of text and numbers and technical diagrams. They were dense, hard to read and impossible to follow.
He was a scientist/engineer and he told me he wanted to be sure to answer every possible question up front. He wanted to provide all possible information in the six minutes we gave him to present.
When I mentioned to him that he should tell a story that matters to the investors, he replied:
“I am already having enough trouble cramming all of this information into a pitch, I can’t add a story.”
And therein lies the problem.
The audience doesn’t have the capacity to absorb vast amounts of data and information. Slide after slide of text and data literally put us to sleep.
Well one of us anyway, but there was a mad dash to the coffee machine when he was done.
After just six minutes.
In all of your communications, you should also be calling people to action not anesthetizing them.
Yet most marketing consists of cramming information into a presentation, whether a presentation given at the front of a room or a website full of detail and proof.
The strategy is to cram. Which is boring.
Say less, just make sure it engages
Using a storytelling framework, you can engage your audience in your world. You show them that you understand their world and have a solution to the problems that they face.
The story becomes your strategy. You tell this story with everything you do: when you give a presentation, you are telling a story. When you have a conversation, you are telling a story. When you pitch, you are telling a story.
This isn’t an anecdote you throw in on top of everything else, you should live and breathe your story.
The first step to creating your story is to focus on only a story that means something to your audience. Think from scratch.
In the case of our startup client, the data were crammed in as answers to random questions that he had faced before.
But he didn’t need to preemptively answer all of those technical questions. He had to engage his audience first so that they would ask the questions.
The win for all of us is when we can get the audience to start asking us questions. That is a success, that is the opportunity for us to talk about more detail.
So start from scratch. Once you get over the resistance this can be very freeing.
The second step is to know your audience.
Our startup CEO’s belief was that his prospects were engineers concerned with technical aspects of his product.
But when you are raising money, your prospect is an investor. Their understanding of the technology is secondary. They are only listening for how they are going to make money.
The CEO in question needed to tell a money making story not an impact of wind turbulence on stability story.
What is your audience listening for? Remember it is never about you; it is always about them. So the second step is to create messaging that speaks to their needs.
Third: craft your story
In the case of the startup, they need to tell an investor story and explain how they would make money for investors.
Your story needs to explain how your audience will realize their goals and objectives. Clear, direct and brief.
The key is to engage
Whatever framework you use you should be talking about your audience's problem, not you.
And get to the next conversation
Whether selling yourself, your business or your product each communication is about getting to the next conversation - you want your propsects to ask you questions. That is when you can really impress them with what you know.
What do you think?
Do you have any experience pitching? Or reviewing pitches? What has your experience been?