Please miss, tell us a story, pleeease…


Most failed pitches will share the characteristic of too much content. They fall into the  irresistible trap of more is best, cramming in every salient fact,  compelling case-histories, blinding statistics, unique reasearch findings, unassailable track records, irrefutable claims of superiority and differentiation.

This ignores the simple truth. It’s not what you put in to a pitch that matters. It’s what your audience takes out. At best this will be three or four key messages and an emotional response that will always outweigh the rational one.

storytelling 5  This is where storytelling comes in.  Since that famous time, immemorial, stories or narratives have been shared in every culture. Booker Prize writer, A.S.Bryant: “narration is as much a part of human nature as breath and the circulation of the blood. Indeed as human beings we are all natural storytellers…. some more innately skilled than others, but we all have stories to tell”.


So the moral of this particular tale is to sacrifice some content and tell a story. As long as it has some relevance it can come from personal experience or be a formal case history described anecdotally. Just as they did when children, your audience of hardened business professionals will listen and engage with your story, with their imaginations coming into play. They will remember the stories long after they forget the rest of your important argument.

The other plus side of the story is this. It is much easier in the heat of a pitch to tell a story naturally, and with confidence, than it is to present the compelling arguments.  And the sooner you bring in your stories, the sooner you and your audience will relax.


Build on this confidence by acting the story, as you would for children. Pause for dramatic effect ( the wolf  dressed as grandma), expansive open gestures (the beanstalk reaching the sky)  and smile (the happy ending).  All are aspects of your performance that  can say ‘you are delighted to be here’.

Remember, in any pitch, storytelling is the way to make the emotional connection and that you, the storyteller, are the most important element. It’s all about you and your team.