Keep it simple and focus on how people benefit.
Avoid complex details when talking to nonspecialists.
A detailed context works best after an emotive intro.
Recently I was part of a great conversation with three other business owners - we were sat having a post-dinner drink at the China Accelerator mentor dinner after GMIC 2017.
One of the guys was introducing his company and started telling us what he does, and we proceeded to discuss how he could improve his opening pitch.
This story is particularly interesting because his company works in nuclear waste disposal which is an insanely complex field and I think if it's possible to simplify and clearly pitch nuclear power than its possible to pitch any business which is why I believe that this is an interesting post to share.
But back to the beginning of his pitch.
As he started pitching his company, he went down the same path as many people do, and I used to. He began telling us what he did and how it worked which if you are not a scientist soon becomes way too much information and stops making sense.
I think people start going deep on what they do as they feel the audience needs a full context and background to understand how and why it matters which is right...but not as a way to start the conversation.
His structure was something like this:
- How he was qualified
- What his company and technology does
- How the science works
- Where they do it
- A final claim
I understood most of what was said, but some of the science flew right over my head - the thing that stuck out was his last sentence - "We call it closing the loop on the dangers of nuclear waste - our process and technology make it 100% safe."
"Closing the loop" That was it for me, and what concerns most nonscientists, how is nuclear waste managed and made safe?
As with all pitches, I hear I'm always looking for the why.
Why do we relate to the solution, how does it impact us? How do we understand it? How do we connect with it?
Nine times out of ten it is the last thing people say yet it is the best way to start.
I’m often recommending people reverse their pitch and start at the end - start with the overarching conclusion and work backward.
Our fellow dinner had focused too much on what nuclear waste is, and the technical details of how to make it safe which to ley-people make little sense. Non-nuclear physicists mostly only know the scary headlines of leaks, spills, and contamination the highly dangerous aspects, the glowing green ooze from movies. That's why we want nuclear waste to be managed and disposed of safely that's why we want the loop to close.
As we discussed his pitch, I suggested that ‘why' we need a company like his is to make nuclear waste safe. Do we want to know how that works? Not really it's like not knowing how 4G and smartphones works don't stop us buying them. We want to know how it works for us - makes our life better and safer.
So I suggested the next time he is pitching his company he could start by simply saying - "We make nuclear waste safe."
Using this as a starting point to talk a little science and depending on his audience go deep or stay shallow. This way he can be confident that everyone will know why he does what he does, a little of how it works and know that it helps us all.
So the main conclusion was:
Start with a focus on how the audience benefits.
Avoid too many details and know that there is always time for more information later but not as how to introduce a company or service.
Follow up with the details after an emotive intro, why, how and then what.
We all left the after dinner drinks satisfied with our collective discussion about how to directly pitch the benefits of his company and hopefully engage more investors and customers in the future.
Thank you for reading this far and please leave a comment below with any presentation related questions.