An investor pitch meeting can be a scary moment chock full of opportunity. The way that you pitch, what information you provide, and how you craft the story of your brand, idea, and pitch itself can all affect your success.
“When it comes down to it, human beings are storytellers, and the ability to bring the story element into your pitch narrative can make or break your success.” – Ryan Rottman, co-founder and CEO OSDB Sports
Thankfully, there are a number of storytelling strategies and techniques that can help you succeed when pitching to investors, and may even help you in the long run as you grow your brand narrative and build your communication skills.
Start at the end
Whether simply telling a story, or speaking with potential investors, the worst thing for a story is not knowing where it is going. Before you begin your narrative, understand the end goal, then work backwards. This allows you to both discover, and carefully plan all of the steps of your idealistic brand story with a cohesive end goal.
While this type of cohesion is important to your pitch success, starting from the end does more for your narrative than just this. When you start from the end, your potential investor knows what your pitch is immediate.
“When pitching to an investor, get your thesis, your end goal out there immediately. Don’t beat around the bush with build-up and teasers. Provide the successful outcome as a precedent.” – Ryan Rockefeller, CMO and co-founder of Cleared
Begin your pitch with what product or project success looks like, with the end of your narrative, then bounce back to provide the steps and story that took you here. This not only helps you maintain the focus of your investors but avoids wasting either of your time.
Use, don’t overuse emotions
Anyone who’s taken a basic English or writing course has heard of pathos, logos, and ethos: the Aristotelian rhetorical basics. They refer to the emotional, logical, and ethical appeal. All of these should be balanced within your pitch storytelling, but it can be quite easy to misuse pathos (emotional appeal) within your approach.
A good product creates an emotional response, so your pitch should include the emotional appeal of what you can offer to not only your consumers, but your investors, and even the rest of the world. This means that as you enter your narrative, you carefully select the emotional aspects that you want to touch on.
“Emotional investment is an important piece of investment. Beyond the logistics of a good idea, investors are looking for something to put their heart in as well, something that excites them.” – Matt Woods, co-founder and CEO of SOLD.com
In this same space, be wary not to overuse emotion. While an excited investor is a good sign, emotions fade. Balancing your appeals allows you to ensure that emotion is a factor of investor loyalty, and not the entirety.
Numbers should be part of your story
An investor pitch meeting needs to cover the financial aspects of your business plan without being a strictly financial meeting. You need to tell your brand story, discuss your direction, and discuss how finances will be used. One of the spaces you can easily suffer in as a storyteller is to completely separate your narrative from the finances.
A good pitch seamlessly weaves financial discussion into the big picture of your business, rather than separating your pitch into half-story, half-budget meetings. This is where understanding your end goal comes into play. Plot out your financial needs and milestones in relation to your story’s big picture. This allows you to flow in and out of financial needs in such a way that it is all part of the storytelling process.
“Finances are a necessary coverage within a pitch meeting and should support the overall ideals and direction of the business, not exist separate from it. When you make clear the relationship between these two things, investors are more likely to ally themselves with your plan.” – Woody Sears, founder of Hearhere
What’s your story?
Authenticity is one of your greatest tools in a pitch meeting. If you want to establish trust, provide emotional insight to you and your business, and invite your potential investors to share your passion, authenticity is an absolute requirement.
The best way to do this within the context of your pitch story is to include a little bit of your own story. Why did you create this product or start this business? What inspired you to embark on this journey? What is the need you are trying to fill, and why?
“When your passion is real, and genuine in front of the investor, your investor is able to participate in your narrative rather than just receive it. This is how you gain loyal partners, rather than passive supporters.” – John Berry, CEO and managing partner of Berry Law
As you plan out your pitch meeting narrative, place genuine, authentic pieces of your story and motivation within the story. Of course, ensure that all of these pieces of you are relevant to the business, but don’t be afraid of a little vulnerability. This assures investors that you are honest, and have a genuine belief in what you do.
While your business should be able to speak for itself, you and your motives are an important part of that process and are a core piece of your pitch.
To the point
Don’t mince words or beat around the bush. Your investor isn’t looking for you to meet a word count, and the length of your pitch does not determine the validity of your product. Tell your story with concision, ensuring that every piece of information is relevant to the pitch.
“Save excess information for questions. If something is not necessary within your brand story, leave it out. If you missed a piece of information investors are curious about, they will ask you about it. Be prepared to answer questions, but don’t waste time.” – Daniel Tejada, co-founder of Straight Up Growth
When you use concision and careful intentionality in telling your brand story, you demonstrate a level of respect that makes investors more likely to pay attention to your pitch, ponder your cause, and think about questions that could enhance their likelihood to invest.
When you utilise these tactics, your pitch-meeting storytelling skills will grow dramatically, and you may find yourself a better communicator overall as well.
Robert Haynes, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.