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MicroSummary: For the past 13 years, writer Oren Klaff has used his pitching method and raised more than $ 400 million. In his book ‘Pitch Anything‘, he describes his methods and teaches how to make a powerful and winning pitch any day in business. Whether selling an idea to investors, to your clients or negotiating a higher salary, Klaff will transform the way you convey your ideas.
An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
Learning how to make great pitches can transform your career and help you make real money.
Your success will depend much more on the method you use and not on how many times you try.
Apply the techniques used by Klaff and learn how to persuade your audience and make them focus 100% on you.
Learn how to sell your idea in a better way, using your own voice. 12min shows you how!
“Pitch Anything Summary”
Know The Different Brain Layers
At some point in our lives, we all need to pitch something; to convey your message effectively, whether it’s a sales pitch, a lecture, or some new idea you’d like to present, you need to deliver your content with mastery.
That means you need to know how to present your ideas most powerfully and persuasively possible. Unfortunately, most people do not know how to do this.
There is a big difference between what we are trying to tell our audience and what people really understand the message.
To end this asymmetry between what’s presented and what’s understood, we need to study how the human brain has evolved.
Our brains have developed at three different levels over the years, organizing itself into three different layers:
- The “croc brain”, or crocodile brain, was the first part of the brain to develop. That is your brain’s primitive part. It is simple, automatic and focused on survival. It is responsible for emotions such as fear, which alerted, for example, that they should get away from predators.
- The midbrain is the second layer of the brain. This part allows us to understand higher levels of complexity, and deal with social interactions and family relationships, for example.
- The neocortex is the most advanced part of the brain, which gives us the highest degree of intellectual distinction compared to other animals. Thanks to the neocortex we can reach a higher level of thinking, rationalize facts, and make analyzes to understand complex phenomena.
When you pitch, you are using your neocortex to turn your ideas into words. But the problem is that the people who are watching your presentation are not necessarily using the neocortex to understand your pitch.
Most of the time, the primitive ‘croc brain’ ignores the message, which it finds very difficult to understand, and begins to ignore the pitcher immediately.
If you sound complex, you become invisible to the audience’s mind.
That is exactly why you need to prepare your pitch so that the ‘croc brain’ understands you first, gradually adding more complexity. How? Being simple, clear and staying focused on your goal.
To capture the attention of the crocodile brain, you need to add interesting aspects, novelties, and surprises in your pitch.
It helps capture the attention of your audience’s primitive croc brain and allows you to reach the other two brain layers, the midbrain, and the neocortex.
Capture Your Public’s Attention
It is crucial to win and keep your audience’s attention. Without it, you will not get anywhere. How to do this? You need to provoke two things in your target audience with your pitch: Desire and Tension.
On desire, people always want things that they can not reach. So this emotion comes when you offer them a reward, something they do not have but would like to.
Then, tension comes into play.
Even more powerful than arousing desire, is arousing fear of losing or not conquering something. When you show people that they could miss a great opportunity, or reach an object of desire, they get tense.
In a more scientific explanation, this game of desire and tension fills the public brain with two neurotransmitters: dopamine and norepinephrine.
Dopamine is associated with anticipating rewards and desires, such as when we complete a puzzle or learn a new concept.
Want to increase your audience’s dopamine levels? Be more visual, use and abuse of your enthusiasm, engage in a fun pitch.
Abuse of images, demonstrations and pay special attention to verbal and corporal communication.
We must also take into account norepinephrine. It is responsible for the alertness, that is, tension. If your pitch implies that too much is at stake, your audience’s brains will be bombarded with norepinephrine.
To create a bit of tension, you need to add some kind of conflict, but nothing too exaggerated.
A small amount of conflict is enough to encourage the audience.
To do this, you could, for example when advising a friend on relationship matters, say something like: “she’s probably not the best person for you” After the initial tension, it is necessary to soften by stating something like: “But when you find her, you will know.”
This strategy keeps the listener alert and captive because norepinephrine in their systems is telling them they may have something to lose if they do not pay attention. Cool, isn’t it?
Create A Structure For Controlling Situations
We all have different perspectives and points of view on different life situations. Most of them are based on our intelligence, ethics and our values.
These different life perspectives are also known as ‘structures’ and dictate how we will perceive all kinds of social situations, from conversations to sales pitches.
Structures also determine who is in control of these situations.
When two people meet, their individual structures clash and only one of them can survive. Which one? The one that is most powerful.
For example: Imagine that a police officer stops you for speeding. He has strong moral authority, and you have an unconvincing excuse.
These are the structures. When they collide, the structure of the police officer prevails.
That means that he will be in control of the situation, the tone of voice and even the duration of the encounter. In short, he will be in control of the situation.
Structure shocks also happen in business situations. For example, your customer is focused on price while you are focused on quality.
You try to get him to focus on the quality of your product; he tries to get you to focus on your high price. If your structure survives, you will have control and close the deal.
It means that your ideas will be accepted by the client and you have been able to impose your ideas on theirs.
Learn To Deal With Others’ Structures
If you need to explain your authority, power, position, and advantage, you do not have the strongest structure.
There are many types of structures in the business world, and it is important to know them to deal with them appropriately.
Some people use the “power structure,” which is an arrogant structure, in which they try to stand out from other people by imposing their will.
In such cases, it is enough that you do nothing to validate their power. Instead, take small actions by provoking and denying this power, seeking to break this structure.
You, for example, can start putting your things together and pretending you’re ready to leave if you’re talking to someone who is not taking you seriously.
It causes the power to be questioned and the person to rethink their position.
Another known structure is the ‘timeframe’. The person can try to control the conversation by saying something like ‘I only have ten minutes.
‘To demonstrate that he/she is in control. In response, you can act saying, – “It’s okay, I only have five minutes.”
So you argue against it and show that you are positioning yourself against the structure that you have tried to establish.
There is also the ‘analyst structure’ in which the person goes into very deep detail.
Answer that person’s questions with high-level answers, and before she asks any more questions, come up with an ‘intriguing structure’, telling a brief, personal, simple, and relevant story.
Use The ‘Reward Structure’
The ‘reward structure’ should be one of the structures you mostly use because it is powerful and you can use it in many situations.
Most of the people whom you’re going to pitch to think you’re after their money.
Your goal with the ‘rewards structure’ is to change that perception that ‘money is the reward’ with the realization that you are the reward.
You need to communicate that listening to you is the reward in and of itself.
It is important for people to understand that it is advantageous for them to do business with you. As people tend to want things they cannot have, considering yourself as their reward will make people seek your approval rather than the other way around.
In a pitch situation, never behave as if you were chasing people, trying to get something out of someone.
Do not agree to last-minute changes and do not try to close the deal quickly by saying things like, “What do you think about it so far?” This behavior reaffirms the impression that you are after their money.
Instead, make it your target to have your listener try to impress you.
You can, for example, use phrases such as “I am selective about who I choose to work with; Why do you think I should do business with you?
“This will catch their attention, and they will want to impress you. Using this structure, people will want to sell themselves to you, not the other way around.
Use Multiple Structures To Activate Hot Cognition
Most people believe that we make rational decisions. To tell you the truth, most of the time, we do not.
We make far more decisions that are instinctive than decisions that are rational. In fact, we make some decisions long before we understand the context and only then do we come up with reasons to justify them. This type of decision is called ‘warm cognition’.
The decisions we make through reason are called ‘cold cognitions’.
Once you’ve introduced your pitch, you’ll want to turn on hot cognitions in your audience.
They will make people want what you offer in a matter of seconds, instead of having them analyze their pitch for days to make a rational, cold decision.
You activate hot cognitions by introducing multiple structures in a short amount of time.
- The first structure is the ‘intriguing structure’: you tell the public a compelling story, a personal narrative in which a dilemma is solved. At a crucial moment, you stop telling the story, leaving the audience anxious and ensuring maximum attention, through tension.
- Then you use the ‘reward structure’ to turn the game around: instead of trying to impress the audience, get them to seek your approval. You could say something like “many investors are watching my business right now, and I need to choose which one will be my partner.”
- After that, you use the ‘time frame’, saying, for example, ‘Unfortunately this is a temporary offer, I will make this decision by the end of the day at the most.’ That will make the public think they could lose a great opportunity not to move fast.
By activating all these hot cognitions in your audience, you will leave them wanting in advance anything you can offer.
Neediness represents weakness. Whenever you find yourself seeking approval, this is perceived as a sign of weakness, which can be fatal in your pitch.
If you act needy, the audience will realize your weakness and their primitive ‘croc brain’ will classify your proposal as a threat to their money.
That can put you in a vicious cycle where the public becomes increasingly distant, which makes you more anxious and even needier.
To overcome your need, you can use a three-step formula based on the movie ‘Steve’s Tao’:
In the film, the protagonist Dex follows a pseudo-Taoist philosophy to conquer women. The idea is simple:
- Step 1: Try to eliminate your desires, at least in the eyes of the public. If they have one thing that you desperately want, you will seem needy. To avoid this, make it clear to your audience that you do not need it.
- Step 2: Focus on your strengths. Show your excellence. Dex, for example, was great with kids and made sure his targets saw that.
- Step 3: Step back a bit. The moment your audience expects you to chase after their money, do not do it. Resist and walk away saying something like “I’m not totally convinced we’re a good match.” That will make them chase after you, just as women chased Dex in ‘Steve’s Tao.’
Seek Alpha Status
When you are responding inefficiently to things the other person is saying and doing, that person dominates your current structure, and you become controlled.
Status plays a vital role in almost every social gathering.
At any meeting, a dominant member known as ‘alpha’ arises, while the others possess a subordinate position, also called ‘beta’. It’s hard to be persuasive if you’re in a beta position and that’s why you need to achieve and maintain alpha status.
Some elements of status – such as reputation or wealth – are stable. But other elements, which fall within the situational status and therefore, the game can turn.
For example, even if a successful surgeon has a higher social status than a golf instructor, the instructor is still the alpha during golf lessons.
While pitching, you should note that the audience can use small betas traps to force you into a beta position. For example, making you wait many hours to give your pitch is a great beta trap.
Ignore these pitfalls and avoid doing anything that gives alpha status to your opponent.
Instead, take small denial and provocation to assume the alpha status in the situation, as soon as you can.
As Oren Klaff writes: “When you are challenging and funny at the same time, your audience is challenged by you, and you know instinctively that you are in the presence of a specialist.”
Let’s give an example so that you understand better.
Let’s say that a potential investor decides to make you wait in the lobby. When you get to the meeting room, you can start by looking at some materials and reviewing them.
When the investor tries to see what you’re working on, you might say something like, “No, I’m not ready yet. Wait another minute. ”
If you do it naturally, in a funny way, or as a joke, you can retake your alpha position.
Once you possess alpha status, you should conduct the discussion by showing that you are the specialist, as well as the professional golfer talks about golf – not about surgeries – when it is teaching the surgeon.
To consolidate your status, force your opponent to say something that strengthens your alpha position with a natural blow like “tell me, why should I work with you on this project?”
Keep Your Pitch Short And Simple
Before you begin your pitch, make it clear to your audience that you will be brief and simple. Doing this helps them relax. That lets them know that if they are not interested, at least they will not be bored for long.
When Watson and Crick introduced the idea of the Nobel Prize-winning DNA helix to the world, they only needed five minutes.
If you know what you are doing, you can make any pitch in up to twenty minutes. Remember the TED Talks, which last about ten minutes and teach highly sophisticated lessons to the world.
Begin your pitch with a short introduction, introduce yourself.
That does not mean you should tell your whole life story. Just give the audience a taste of their greatest hits, like some of their most impressive projects and the unique things you’ve done.
Most people will start by talking directly about the ‘big idea’ for which they are seeking investments.
Before doing this, you should talk about a crucial concern in the minds of your audience: because now is the right time to invest.
Instead of showing a long and complex analysis, speak briefly about the economic, social, and technological aspects and forces that make your business critical and justify the investment at that time.
The economic forces that benefit your pitch could be for example: making your audience richer and driving interest rates down.
Social forces could be the growing environmental concerns.
A technological force could be, for example, the growing popularity of electric vehicles.
In presenting these aspects, remember to do this by showing the public the emergence of a great opportunity, but it will not be available for long.
The three forces give context and history to your great idea, which should also be brief and simple. You can use a ‘recipe’ for this:
“For [the public] who is dissatisfied with the current offers on the market, my product is a new idea that presents [the solution to the problem], different from the competition.
My product has these certain [main functions]. ” This is the end of your pitch. Details and inquiries will follow shortly.
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“Pitch Anything” QuotesAs you share your story, there has to be some suspense to it because you are going to create intrigue in the telling of the story by telling only part of the story. That’s right, you break the analyst frame by capturing audience attention… Click To Tweet When you are reacting to the other person, that person owns the frame. When the other person is reacting to what you do and say, you own the frame. Click To Tweet People who have lots of options are not uptight, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Click To Tweet The two parts of the attention cocktail are novelty and tension, which in a pitch work together in a feedback loop for about 20 minutes until—no matter what you do or how hard you try—they get out of balance and then stop working… Click To Tweet Every social interaction is a collision of frames, and the stronger frame always wins. Frame collisions are primal. They freeze out the neocortex and bring the crocodile brain in to make decisions and determine actions. Click To Tweet
At any social gathering where you plan to be persuasive, it is important that you have control of the situation and ensure that your audience sees your pitch through the structures your mind has chosen to use. Also, you should build your pitch in a way that, on a neurological level, people’s brains work for you and not against you.
Keep your pitch short and simple enough that your audience does not get bored and scattered.
Do not show neediness and seek to be in the alpha position during the presentation. Hold people’s attention and be able to pitch anything.
Also published on Medium.