Pitch like a pro: Revealing the big idea

the big idea

This is the second article in a series in which we will discuss the method of pitching outlined by Oren Klaff from his book, Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal.  Oren Klaff spends most of the book outlining the STRONG method and offering examples of how to implement his techniques.  Reference his book for more details.

Now that you have entered the meeting, or stepped on stage at an event, you are ready to start your presentation.  As you know, people do not have long attention spans.  The shorter the pitch, the better.  Know the length of your pitch and let your audience know how much time you will take to present.  Then, they won’t prepare themselves for hours of passive listening, and they will be able to focus on your 20-30 minutes attentively.  Oren Klaff, breaks the pitch into four phases.

Phase 1: Introduce yourself <5 minutes

Phase 2: Explain the budget and secret sauce 10 minutes

Phase 3: Offer the deal 2 minutes

Phase 4: Stack frames for a hot cognition 3 minutes

Phase 1

During this phase you will introduce yourself, your background, and a bit about your “big idea.”  You need to be selective of the details you announce to your audience about yourself.  Only reveal a couple of your successes as your audience will only remember a couple things you say. If you limit this time by simply stating your biggest 1-2 accomplishments, then they are more likely to remember something you would like to be known for.

As you introduce the idea of your product, company, etc., make sure you reveal the relevancy of your product/company in today’s marketplace and explain why the audience should invest at that moment.  In order to answer this question, consider the three forces (economic, social, and technological).  Also, include how you started the company; such as what gave you the idea and a little backstory to intrigue the audience.

As you discuss what you are pitching and the backstory, now you have to go for the why buy/invest now? Explain how your product has moved, revolutionized, and kept up with the times. No one wants to buy or invest in something that has remained static.

The big idea should be introduced simply by mentioning these points: Target audience, current offerings in the market, your new idea, key problem/solution features, competitor product, and the key features of your product.

Phase 2

As you explain the budget and how the idea works, there are a couple things you should keep in mind.  Demonstrate your skills at budgeting and don’t waste too much time on your projected revenue figures as investors will see right through exaggerations.  The key is to “tune the audience to the target audience.”  You know who you are targeting your product to, now, you need to get the audience to start thinking as if they were included in that target for them to see the greatness of the solutions your product provides.  Show your competitive advantage, your “secret sauce” and explain briefly how that sets your product apart.

Phase 3 

This is the phase you really have to deliver well.  Tell your audience what they will get when they decide to do business with you.  Explain what you will deliver, how you will do it, and when they will receive it.  Break it down, but concisely.  You don’t want to waste time, but you also don’t want them confused about the deal being offered.

Phase 4 

Hot cognition is having a strong feeling, either good or bad, about something before knowing much at all about it.  As humans, we often make decisions off of hot cognition rather than thorough detailed analysis.  You need to carry out your pitch by creating hot cognition.  The way to do this is to stack frames (reference other “Pitch like a pro” article).

1. hot cognition 1: the intrigue frame- build desire and introduce something that the target cannot have immediately by using a narrative that has lots of buildup but no final resolution.

2. hot cognition 2: the prize frame-switch the frame and make the target think they are the ones trying to win your attention instead of the other way around

3. hot cognition 3: the time frame-when you add a pressure of a time constraint, people are more likely to make rash decisions as they fear running out of time and missing out on a good deal.

4. hot cognition 4: the moral authority frame- control the frame by moral authority, not wealth or expertise.

Know you know how to structure your pitch according to the expert advice of Oren Klaff!


Reference: Klaff, Oren. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading and Winning the Deal. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.

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Erica Martin

Business Developer at Beekast

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