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How to Create Pitch-Winning Stories

"I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.  Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine."  Emily Dickinson

I’ve recently read “What More Can I Say?” by Dianna Booher, which reinforces many of the valuable tips we cover in our Pitch Presentation Academy.  During the Academy we talk of stories, which connect us to others at a deep, almost primeval, level through the power of their emotional energy.  And stories are the narrative architecture formed by words.

Words captivate and influence our emotions; they have stirred nations to triumph and instill hope.  Used carelessly, they cause disappointment or worse still, wreak havoc.  Every relationship we build starts with an interaction, with words.  For us in new business, as in all spheres of our professional life, honing our communications skills, mindful of the extraordinary power of words, is an invaluable talent to nurture.  By being imaginative and playful with words and thus stories, we build our credibility, trust and powers of persuasion.  Facts alone are dry, uninteresting and easily forgettable, but stories we remember.

How to create a pitch-winning story.

Simply put, a story is about the transformation of a character, the hero, as he or she is tested through the unfolding of a series of challenges and struggles in the endeavour to achieve a particular goal.  The story is ultimately resolved in a life-changing conclusion.  Without struggle or conflict, there is no story.  Framed within a pitch context, you could think about it this way:

-        Your Client and/or their organisation is the hero, about to embark upon a momentous period of challenge, struggle and, ultimately, positive change.

-        The metaphor for the challenge is the pitch brief. The hurdles and obstacles it presents as the journey unfolds create further stories to tell.

-        It is through the mastery and resolution of this challenge that change will occur.  The hero, your Client, must overcome trials and tribulations to effect the change and realize the goal - a successful resolution for both themselves and their organisation.

-        Your resolution should be powerful and motivating, sufficiently so for your Client to act upon it.

-        Your Agency’s role is one of enabler, a supporting role in this story. You are empowering the hero, (you’re Dr. Watson, not Sherlock Holmes).

-        Vulnerability is attractive, and human.  Your Agency is likely to have encountered its own problems and setbacks along the way, so don’t be afraid of admitting them.  This is an incredibly powerful way for your Client to connect emotionally.

-        Create a thematic echo, established at the outset to which you return throughout the story and on which you end.  This helps convey a sense of emotional and intellectual fulfilment and achievement; mastery over a challenging journey with a successful conclusion.

-        Use language creatively, through use of metaphor and analogies, adding narrative colour and firing your Client’s imagination.

-        A good sense of humour is an attractive trait and a highly effective bonding tool.  So add a little humour – preferably self-effacing.

Stories are human currency which we share daily.  They have the unrivalled power to penetrate the human psyche.  Using your pitch opportunities to tell a great story will leave a lasting mental imprint on your Client, because how often are we excited and engaged by the lifeless form of facts?

If you’re interested in learning how to create and deliver outstanding pitch presentations, read about our Pitch Presentation Academy here.

Janine Abrahams

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