Leadership 6 min read

The Art of Pitching

Give your most effective and efficient pitch yet.

You’ve come up with a business launch, new product, or some other creative idea. But coming up with a good concept is only the start of the adventure. There are hundreds of interesting ideas vying for attention. Your pitch is the tool you will use to get your proposal heard and convince others to move forward with you. Mastering the art of the pitch will ensure other people not only hear what you mean but want to join you on the journey.  

Although each industry may have specific formats that your pitch will adhere to, the basic requirements are largely the same. It must balance two distinct elements, strategic planning, and appealing to emotions. Whether you are pitching a business plan, a screenplay, yourself or anything else, the advice here will make sure you get heard.

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Having decided that your brainchild is a worthy cause, you’ll want to invest lots of time fleshing out the details, thinking about execution, and making sure your delivery is effective. No matter what you're presenting, recall the old adage: the devil is always in the details. Avoid the common mistake of pitching an idea still in its infancy. Your pitch must create a detailed map towards the final destination. There must be some logic for how to make it real and some level of detail in how an abstract idea can be made into tangible plans, overcome obstacles and create profit or make a difference to your audience.

Octavio Herrera is an entrepreneur and Angel investor who has built, funded and sold several technology companies, including Media Defender (an anti-piracy software company), which he sold for $42.5mm and AdColony which he sold for $350mm. Herrera noted that people  “...assume that an idea alone is good enough to warrant an investment.”

However, as an investor, he can’t invest just on an idea even if the facts are sound and it would provide a valuable service.

Herrera shared a story of a doctor who was pitching a procedure/medical advancement that could help patients repair cartilage damage and delay the need for surgery. “I thought it was a great idea and believed the science, but he never presented a business model or how I would make my return as an investor. I can’t just invest in an idea.”

Remember that moving from an interesting vision to a clear one is the difficult part of creation and invention. Be specific and actionable. Make sure you have thought through the mission, vision, and values. In order for your idea to bear fruit, you must work the soil, water it, and prune its branches. Don’t short change your chances by relying too much on the potential or beauty of your idea, because your audience won’t.

2. UNDERSTAND THEIR AGENDA

Now that you’ve invested your heart, sweat, and tears into fully understanding your vision, put your pitch aside. Yes, let it go. This alone will not get your idea into action. If you want to get your ideas heard and gather the team that you need to execute it, you will have to mind-meld with them. The best pitches fit into their world, their perspective and their goals. This doesn’t mean that you compromise your concept, but it does mean that you cater to the elements of your pitch that address the problem they solve, the vision of their brand, or growth outcomes.


Doug Mirabello and his team at Authentic TV produce many popular shows, including “Flipping out!”, “Cake Masters,” and “Guilty Pleasures,” and hear about 400 pitches in a given year, either from outside producers or directly from talent. He explains that what many pitches often fail to address are the goals of the investors. He states, “When you pitch your show - don't tell me why you think people will watch it, tell me why networks will buy it.” His job is to find show concepts that he can pitch and sell to networks. This is the lens through which he will analyze your concept. Mirabello shared a concept about an amazing family that had multiple generations under the same roof, all of them distinct and funny and energetic. “Our 90% was there, but the rest was missing,” he explained. What was the other 10%? He needs to make sure what they're doing is clear, succinct, and has some drama in it.

Make sure that as part of your homework, you have researcher your audience and know what is that 10% they must have.

3. HAVE A STORY

Although preparation and research are fundamental, they’re not enough. “Most pitches I hear are well-researched and hit all the important slides (team/business model/market etc.) but a good pitch tells a story,” explains Herrera. By engaging your audience with a story, you transport them into a joint quest. He explains that “...going through a deck slide by slide doesn’t create a narrative. A pitch is a sale and a sale needs to tap into emotions in some way.” Too many facts and numbers invite criticism, and also fails to inspire the imagination. In a nutshell, effective pitching appeals to emotion as much as it does to reason.

The story need not be that complex. Weave the story of a person whose life will be improved by your idea. Then explain how your protagonist is just one of many people who will benefit. Taking this approach will breath life to the the facts and details you toiled to layout in your proposal. Your pitch must establish deeper value, alleviate psychological pain or eliminate regret. According to Herrera, “a great story, communicating an unfair advantage, and creating urgency and a fear of missing out for the investor,” will ensure that your proposal stands out above the ones that may cross his desk.


Idea sharing happens all the time: over coffee, in meetings, in elevators. However, pitching an idea to someone who can help advance the project requires more thought and preparation. Every day, those that have the influence to take plans and put them into action are inundated with interesting ideas. Just like you, they are looking for the right fit. Be sure to appeal to both sides of the brain.

Share your voice

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