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published 2 Jun 2015 3 minutes 33 seconds to read

How to shape your pitch to tell the right story

A great pitch is the business card that opens the doors to convince potential clients, investors, media and strategic partners. But be prepared: it’s no easy task to master your pitch to the finest detail and shape it to tell the right story. So, where should you start?

How to Web MVP Academy pitching

This article is written using the advice that Alex Barrera, Co-Founder of and, has kindly shared with the MVP Academy Class of 2015. is a media partner for the pre-accelerator programme.

As a startup, you’ll always be competing for the attention of the audience! And you don’t want to get them bored, do you? Then try to prepare a five to ten minutes pitch that is engaging and avoid using too many numbers and technical data. This leads you to Death by PowerPoint, the main reason why people don’t do well at Demo Days. 

Using the 10 – 20 – 30 Kawasaki rule may help you out when preparing your pitch and it goes as simple as that:

  • Don’t use more than 10 slides in your pitch deck
  • 20 min is the maximum amount of time you can use for presenting those 10 slides
  • Don’t use fonts smaller than 30 points on your slides

Don’t forget the audience

It’s also important to be very observant with the audience and understand what they’re looking for in a presentation. This is how you catch their attention and the very reason why you should customize your deck according to the needs of the people you’re pitching. 

  • The Investors Deck: this one should be an executive summary. Include more words, print it out and put a date to it.
  • The Media Deck: cut out those financial slides and focus instead on the solution – problem. Make sure you present how big the problem is, how much it hurts, your traction and your potential users (comparisons with well-known figures always help here)
  • The Customers Deck: emphasize here how well you understand their problem and present how the solution you propose translates into direct benefits (savings of time, money, and pain). Illustrate with a customer story and give real examples and quotes to support you 

If in doubt, there is one structure of the pitch deck that you can use to make sure you include all the relevant information and cut all the bullshit out. And here it is:

  1. Problem
  2. Solution
  3. Market
  4. Competitors
  5. Technology
  6. Business Model
  7. Marketing & Sales
  8. Team
  9. Milestones & projections
  10. Call to action

You’ve got to be remarkable when pitching, so make sure you communicate things clearly, always emphasizing why you’re doing what you do. Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on how great leaders inspire action may be of help here, so take a quick look at it. And don’t forget the ice cream theory: the secret is in the toppings, so make sure you add the right ones to your pitch!

Your pitch should tell a story 

And in order to stand out, you’d better have a good story. Storytelling requires time and expertise and it’s not just a cosmetic thing your marketing department can throw in the mix. You have to find the storyteller in your startup, match him or her with your writer, and have them work together to find the right angle for your story. 

And before you start, there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself:

  • Who is your protagonist (your persona)?
  • What’s your cast?
  • What are the values at play?
  • Where is the conflict?
  • Who are your antagonists (competition)?  
  • What are your beats? (competitive advantages)

The more knowledge you have, the better the story will be in the end. Then start connecting the dots and putting everything together and get out there: share your story, see how people react to it, learn what works and what doesn’t and ask yourself why.

Last but not least, don’t forget to keep it short and simple! Say what you have to say in as few words as possible and always make sure you know who your audience is and adjust the story accordingly. As counterintuitive as it may sound, there are three magical ingredients for a good story: a beginning, a middle, and an end! And most stories fail miserably because they don’t include these!

This article is brought to you in cooperation with HowToWeb. is a mediapartner


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