All movies have the same basic plot structure. That was a theory in a 2004 book called The Seven Basic Plots. This might now ruin the cinema experience for you, so sorry about that. Personally I can see this reductionist approach in every episode of Postman Pat I watch with my young son.
The first of the seven ‘plots’ was essentially the superhero movie – overcoming the monster. The hero sets out to overcome an evil force threatening the planet. After a good start, the invincible feeling hero suffers some kind of setback before everything seems lost just before the day is won.
This structure is instructive when telling the story of your business. A good pitch should read much like a superhero story. Here are some reasons why:
- Sell the villain. You need to establish the threat first. The evil force (market problem) needs to feel tangible for the hero to be required in the first place. Without a villain the listener won’t care as much about the hero.
- Not a stock pantomime villain either. While on the evil force it must be a real threat. Without a palpable sense of jeopardy (project risk) it is hard to invest our emotion in the story. A straightforward sounding villain (challenge) isn’t going to get the heart racing. Creating a novel sounding bad guy is an important part of any superhero story.
The issue for an entrepreneur is similar – looking at the same market drivers as everyone else, what is it that is so different and unique about your take on it?
- The flawed superhero. Investors don’t expect perfection, and actually rather like a backstory where the hero (entrepreneur) has tried and learnt by overcoming setbacks. This shows tenacity – an attribute that is rather useful when the villain finds a way round your superpowers (technology). See Kryptonite. A hero with the right attitude will always overcome a lack of superpowers in a good movie narrative. Let’s face it; everyone wants to be Han Solo rather than Luke Skywalker.
Investors feel the same way – they will invest in a great person over a great idea.
- The team. Hero movies usually involve other key support characters, whether it’s a team all complementing each other’s skills (such as X-Men) or the wise sage figure who guides the hero (think Yoda or Mr Miyagi).
The equivalent of these in your pitch can show off the balance and experience of your team and the world-recognised experts who are backing you.
- The resolution. Enjoyable stories have a satisfying conclusion. The emotional payoff is important if you’re giving up three hours of your life to watch it.
Your pitch needs to also have a clear finish, usually through a strong call to action: a clear offer to the investor where they can see what they are getting and what their part in this story will be.
Follow me on Twitter: @pittso
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