How to Nail the Pitch and Get What You Want

We live in a time when data rules most industries. People want to see the numbers working in their favor and they want to track everything down to their customers’ mom’s home address...just in case. In this business world where data drives us, the entrepreneur and the seasoned business tycoon alike are forgetting pathos plays an underlying role in every business transaction. We like to believe that business and emotions are separate, but no investor, client or potential talent, makes decisions completely void of emotion. 

With a greater importance on emotional intelligence in the workplace over the past decade, people are understanding more and more that a pitch must appeal to the audience on a deeper level than just numbers. 

Former Pixar Studios Storyteller and Animator Matthew Luhn, believes the key to any pitch is the story you weave and the emotions it evokes. Think about all the investor pitches on Shark Tank—the most memorable pitches come with a story, if not an entire skit. While you don’t need costumes and role playing (unless maybe you’re pitching on national television), crafting your brand and company into an impactful story will create an attachment that’s hard for your audience to walk away from. 

Here are the 4 elements Luhn uses to create compelling brand stories that sell you, your brand, or your product to anyone.

1. A Hook

Most people were taught that in sales or investment pitches you get the point. The elevator pitch conditioned us to have our presentations down to a few bullet points if needed. So, we jump right into the facts. Instead, your opening line needs to be something that is unexpected, unusual, or action-driven to catch and hold the audiences’ attention. 

2. Connection

We all remember the Pixar movies of our youth that made us publicly cry in movie theaters. There’s a reason you felt such strong connections. These movies (along with the best brand stories) make you the hero, not the protagonist. The audience will feel the most empowered and invested when your story puts them at the center as the true hero, while your product or service (or whatever it is your pitching) is simply a way to enable the audience member to become that hero.

3. Authenticity

Nobody will buy into anything if they don’t feel like they can trust the face associated with it. A good way to create an authentic feel is to weave yourself (or your brand if possible) into the story and portray yourself in a vulnerable state. Luhn says Pixar movies do this by showing the protagonist as a child or underdog. If you can create authenticity in a business setting you’ve won over your audience. 

4. Structure

There is actually a very specific structure that Luhn uses to create brand stories, and surprisingly enough it’s based on how he told Pixar’s biggest stories like Toy Story and Up. The trick is to take your audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Pick them up with a joyful thought, then drop them low only to be picked back up again. This up and down will bring out true emotions and connect your audience to your story. 

Of course, always end on a high note unless you are leaving the meeting open-ended or unfinished and want to inspire curiosity or empathy. By being vulnerably authentic, taking the time to create true interest from the start, and engaging your audiences’ emotions, your pitch will sell itself and you can relax a little knowing you’ll get a yes. 

Related: How to Give Feedback In a Virtual Setting