Last year, I scored highly in two pitch rounds in an entrepreneurship program and I don’t deserve it. Well, my presentations are clear, concise and direct. They address the most important criteria in an elevator pitch: the problem, the objective and the audience. I also pronounced them with confidence, despite my speech stuttering.
On paper, winning these pitching rounds might make sense, but it’s not with false humility that I say he shouldn’t have won.
So what’s the problem then?
They were safe.
Playing it safe as an entrepreneur is like mixing oil with water. It does not work. It sure is boring. It doesn’t ignite a passion in you or excite your audience. Some people may write a check for “insurance,” but no one will want to back it up with a blank check and travel with you to the mountaintops for “insurance.” For an entrepreneur like me, in the entertainment industry, the sure thing is kryptonite. Actors are meant to be enigmatic risk-takers, both on and off camera. These qualities should have dripped into my speech.
As an actress, I can tell stories for a living. As a producer, I create these stories from the beginning. In the world of entertainment, storytelling is a craft and a primary skill. If entrepreneurs can learn to harness the power of this forgotten skill for their business, pitching can be a secret and winning ingredient.
Storytelling always wins.
MBA programs and mentors will often teach you how to create your speech. The formula is usually:
Hello, I am NAME. My company, NAME, solves THIS PROBLEM, helping the TARGET AUDIENCE achieve THE TARGET GOAL.
For my startup, it looked like this:
Hello, I’m Kele and I’m an actor, writer and producer of triple whammy.
My company, 3rd Culture Productions, is a film and television production company that solves the problem of underrepresentation of African and other minority groups in the entertainment industry.
By creating quality, authentic and engaging Botswana stories, we are giving a voice to our marginalized communities and helping the international film industry meet growing consumer demand for diversity and inclusion.
I can spit out this basic elevator speech in under 30 seconds. It kind of captures the listener’s attention from the first moment. If I’m lucky, it will keep your interest longer. It probably won’t inspire them to act.
Technically, there is nothing wrong with it, except that it evokes no emotion and therefore does not impact the listener. We remember the things we care about, so make them care.
The storytelling approach takes the listener on a journey. It gives them an experience, like watching an unforgettable movie that has been distilled into less than a minute.
Suggestion: If you’re not moved when you say it, your audience won’t be moved when they hear it. Don’t deny them that experience.
The formulaic speech leaves little room for curiosity. Too many business owners treat it as the main course instead of appetizers.
It is essential to find the balance between arousing enough interest and curiosity and leaving them wanting more. You have less than 60 seconds, so alternating this fine line can be tricky.
Suggestion: sparks enough curiosity to prompt the listener to ask more questions. Don’t try to write down all the main points. The goal is to be invited to resubmit your idea with more time and space to develop the presentation.
Did you know that less than 2% of the biggest films in recent years were produced or directed by women and people of color? Why is that? Because there aren’t enough minority groups in positions of power creating the stories. As a black, female immigrant who has worked in Hollywood, I found this ridiculous. What’s even crazier is that movies with diverse casts and crews make the biggest box office receipts.
But somehow, despite audiences telling us their appetite for greater representation, the industry has been slow to catch up with the demand for diversity and inclusion.
3rd Culture Productions wants to produce quality, authentic and engaging African stories, so that marginalized and forgotten communities can have a voice in the world of entertainment. We believe we can get a piece of this $20 billion global pie.
In the first presentation, I explained the problem and presented my business as the solution. In the second pitch, I told a story: I took the listener on a journey by phrasing the problem as a major upheaval for industry executives who aren’t capitalizing on box office revenue, for moviegoers who are tired of not doing so. diverse content, and for minority communities that are routinely excluded in Hollywood.
Investors invest in people first and the company second. You are effectively selling them who you are and what matters to them. By showing them what I find personally unacceptable, I am subtly persuading them to feel the same way too.
Instead of saying my name and my company, I showed them who I was and how important I was to the story. Too often, we try to put on our “take me seriously” face, thinking it shows professionalism.
Being open, showing yourself as you are and vulnerable with your feelings shows passion and determination.
People are moved by what moves you.
Remember, if they are not moved when you say your pitch, your audience will not be affected when they hear it. Investors are human. People love a good personal story like anyone else. Don’t deny them that experience.
Make them curious enough to ask questions. If you leave with a check, that’s a bonus, not the goal. The goal is for them to call you again.