The importance of storytelling when pitching

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Last night Missive attended KPMG’s ‘The Best British Tech Startup 2019’ event. It got us thinking…What are the storytelling secrets that lead to pitching success?

From agri-tech and med-tech, to an algorithm that is transforming the way journalists consume and disseminate news, eight tech founders pitched to an esteemed panel of four investors: Dan Cobley (Managing Partner, Fintech at Blenheim Chalcot and Chariamn Salary Finance), Russ Shaw (Founder at TechLondon Advocates), Katie Marrache (General Partner, JamJar Investments), and Barry Carter (Partner at KPMG).

Last night’s winning businesses will go through to the finals of ‘The Best British Tech Startup 2019’ and the winner of the entire competition gets the chance to present at Mobile World Congress. MWC is one of the world’s largest annual technology industry gatherings, attracting over 100,000 attendees including investors looking for the next unicorn to get involved with.

While there was no doubting any of the products or impressive applications of technology, it became increasingly clear that the art of storytelling when pitching was crucial for getting through to the next stage of the competition. Delivering a slick, confident, coherent pitch is incremental to success.

The event got us thinking. What are the storytelling secrets to pitching success? Well, whether you’re a hungry founder or entrepreneur looking for investment, here are our quick tips:

1. Share a personal anecdote

It does not need to be complicated, in fact, the less masked in technical language, the better. Several times the Best British Tech Startup 2019 investor panel were quick to say they don’t want to be blind-sided by things they did not understand, rather they would prefer a relatable story.

2. Communicate your point of differentiation

Beyond talking through revenue, expansion plans and growth trajectory, articulate your USP with clarity. More often than not, people think you need an earth-shattering conclusion or differentiator, but simplicity goes a long way: Simplicity in language, delivery and storytelling.

3. Read the room

You can get a good idea of the energy levels in the room by the number and relevancy of questions asked. Also, the audience’s facial expressions will tell you a lot about how invested they are in your story; are they looking at you or their phones? If you’re presenting at an event with networking opportunities, even if you speak to one person, it could provide helpful intel to shape your pitch.

4. Respond to questions directly

Strong communication skills are a critical part of pitching. Turning your deep technical knowledge into relatable messages will enable you to build a connection with your audience. Don’t convolute or morph your responses in what you want to say or what you wish the question had been.

And remember, no one doubts your technical abilities. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Tell a relevant and engaging story. Grab the audience. Hold them. Then leave them with one action or key takeaway.


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