Not that sort of pitching, obviously. But so often, this is what’s happening when people are pitching their proposals – you’re talking about one thing, and your audience is seeing something else.
Pitching is such a powerful skill. If you ever need to persuade someone to agree to an idea, a strategy, a programme, a budget, you need to be able to pitch.
As part of a senior leader training session this week, I covered four simple story techniques that help grab an executive audience’s attention, keep it where you want it and get them closer to a yes.
1. Start strong
No-one has time for preamble or context-setting. You have two questions to answer:
a. Why does something need to happen?
b. Why does it need to happen now?
Be bold, be specific and make your audience feel the pain of the current issues or the size of the opportunity.
2. Knock on heaven’s door
Before you get into what you’re going to do about it, be specific about how great the future you’re promising is going to be. Make your audience want it, badly. What is it going to feel like? How is it going to be better? No one is going to want this more than you, so you had better make sure you sound like you want it.
So many internal proposals that go to committees wouldn’t lift the heart rate of their most ardent supporters, so why should the people on any committee be interested?
3. Build a stairway to heaven
Now is the time to show how you’re getting from here to that bright future. Talk about the outputs and outcomes more than the activity. Keep in mind that the resources you’re asking for aren’t for the work you’re doing, they’re for the difference you’re making.
And credibility is key, so make sure you’re honest about the challenges ahead. Anything worth doing will have obstacles to overcome, and honesty will make the proposal real.
4. Finish in Paradise City
Your pitch is all about the future, so that’s the best place to finish. Remind your audience what will be possible once your work is done, how different their world will be when they say yes.
When the jumping off point for your discussion is an outcome that your audience wants, you’re well on your way to the answer you need.
Story is a trainable skill. Those who have it, have the advantage.