As a young entrepreneur, you quickly realize that your pitch is very important and decisive when you want to get anything from anyone; (potential) customers, business partners, business angels… For some, pitching comes naturally. But if you are like me, it will take you a lot of practice to find the right words and the right arguments. Even if you are the one who knows your products and/or services the most, preparation will do you wonders. Especially if you are using this simple, effective and famous technique, storytelling.
In my case, I discovered it during Alexandre Destro‘s keynote on the subject and its use to improve one’s communication skills. He is a psychologist & expert in communication skills who worked with Ozark Henry for his 2015 TED talk in Liège.
Like it is said in the name, it is about telling a story to appeal to your audience. Instead of pitching directly about your business, you present it in another point of view, yours or someone else’s.
An effective example that Alexandre talked about was the “significant objects” experiment done by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, both famous authors in the USA.
In 2009, they sold 100 small objects on Ebay to demonstrate the effect of narrative on an object’s value. There were candles, candles holders, small statutes, puppets, ceramic dolls, wooden objects, etc. Each item had a value under 5 US dollars. Some were even under 1 US dollar! For each object, they had asked several famous authors, TV writers… like Meg Cabot, William Gibson or Bruce Sterling to write a small story behind a given object, to give them some significance. In the end, they sold everything for a total of 8000 US dollars, just because of their backstories.
That is how storytelling can be effective.
At this point of the keynote, I was doubting myself even more so. My thoughts were ‘I am no famous writer, I cannot write like one’ but in order to convince someone of doing something you want them to do, Alexandre gave us this one small and powerful tip. It is something we all have used at least once in our life. Social proof.
Imagine you need to book a room in a hotel abroad. Would you go with Hotel A with 4,5-star with loads of comments on Google? Or would you book Hotel B with this one (very suspicious, might I add) 5-star review with no comment?
Personally, I would go with exhibit A.
By choosing the one with the comments, I got influenced and empowered by other people’s experiences. It gave credit to the hotel in question and it reassured me that between those 2 hotels, I will have a greatest experience with A.
The main message behind social proof is: if others liked it, I will probably like it too.
Now, here is a great opportunity to improve your next pitch. Use testimonials and tell us how it worked for you!
If you want to get help, Alexandre Destro is coming back on June 14 (from 9:àà to 17:00) to give a one-day workshop on how to prepare a TED-style presentation, with personal coaching. More info here: Ted Style Workshop