Here are some essential questions that every pitch must answer. Don’t forget, the pitch is only partly about why you love the idea. The rest is about why the person you’re pitching to – and their customers, stakeholders, audiences – will love it.
You need: 40 mins, pen and paper.
Answer these questions:
What is your idea in a nutshell (or in a tweet)? Try writing your idea in two sentences or less. Repeat this process once you’ve answered the remaining questions and see how your essential brief has evolved.
Who is going to benefit? Obviously, you are going to benefit if your pitch succeeds, but most people don’t care about that. How is your listener going to benefit? How will their customers, stakeholders or audiences benefit? What gains – practical or emotional – will they experience? On the flipside, you can talk about what your listener will lose if they don’t go ahead with your idea.
Where is your evidence? This might mean data, market research or prototype results. The more tangible, the better. It might also mean finding a comparison or even an analogy that allows your listener to understand a new thing more clearly. My favourite example of this are the scriptwriters who pitched the sci-fi horror film Alien to sceptical studio heads as “Jaws in space”.
How is it going to work? If you’ve hooked their interest, you also need to show you’re thinking practically. What would the next steps be if you get the go ahead? How would you measure progress?
Why now? There are lots of good ideas out there, so yours needs a sense of urgency. Imagine saying “we have to do this now because…” This can mean showing how your idea fits with current market trends, comparing with competitors or tapping into some social buzz.
Why do you care? They’re not just buying your idea, they’re buying you. You need to convince your listener that you have the passion or determination to stick with this project for as long as it takes and not bail out at the first problem. So tell them why you care about your idea, tell them what first got you fired up. This could mean revealing a personal story or even some vulnerability. Showing you care has an added advantage: research shows that when we engage with a speaker on an emotional level, we are more likely to believe what they say.