How to use storytelling in your business pitch

Peter Botting
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The best presentations do away with stiff formality and treat pitches like storytime (Source: Getty)
In business, pitches are things that some people have to do and other people have to listen to. People don’t like pitches or being pitched to - at best they tolerate them. That is why storytelling works in your favour: people enjoy stories and we all have loved stories since childhood. People are natural storytellers - it has been part of being human for thousands of years. Classic business pitches are false and don't feel natural.
Here are some ideas about how to use storytelling in a business pitch.

1. Set the scene. What is the starting point - the A?

Just like those childhood stories that started with “once upon a time…”, set the scene. Where you were, what was the situation. Describe it fully, so the audience understands the key points - but don't clutter the audiences’s heads with unnecessary details or distracting noise. Where you are now, and what have you done to get where you are now?

2. Explain the challenge - the problem.

Explain what happened, what challenge needed handling. This could be a deadline caused by a production hold-up or an external factor, or an emergency. Or it could be a customer or HR issue.

3. Explain what you or your team did.

What did you do and why, and in which order? A, then B, then C. Be staccato, rather than flowery. Explain factually the challenges to what you had to do. Don't oversell - a matter-of-fact tone works best.

4. The outcome - the B

Describe the outcome. The happy client. The fixed problem. The restoration of equilibrium. Then shut up. The story is powerful on its own.

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