How storytelling in pitch decks closes more deals? If you want to create a winning pitch deck that brings in more capital for your startup, focus on the storytelling.
The storytelling element of your pitch deck may be even more influential in your outcomes than the data you have, your slide design, and even the quality of your product.
If your startup hasn’t clarified its story and isn’t using it to pitch investors and facilitate every step of the fundraising process, then you are going to find you are up against some tough competition.
Here’s why storytelling in pitch decks is so vital, what makes a great story, where it comes into play, and how to unleash a narrative that will have high conversion rates among your ideal investors.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
We’re Wired For Stories
Ever since humans first discovered the ability to create cave paintings they’ve relied on stories for communication, survival, and to thrive. Probably even before that.
That continued from the first gatherings around campfires, to traveling musicians, and snake oil salesmen. Today, our massive consumption of stories, from podcasts to blogs to multi-million dollar movies, the existence of Hollywood, to the addiction to social media all show just how intertwined our psyche is with stories.
We are just wired to respond to stories and share them. They tap into the base core of our brains where the strongest decision-making happens. It’s how we learn and justify decisions to ourselves and others.
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor on Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
3 Elements Of A Great Story
What makes a great story? What specifically makes a winning story when it comes to pitch decks and fundraising for startups? And, how storytelling in pitch decks closes more deals?
Telling Stories That Are Relatable
As we’ll dive into further in this article, successful pitch stories are those that are relatable. It is what brings this often foreign and new concept, theory, and idea to being familiar and making sense.
A relatable story is what connects this venture and funding request with the lizard brain, where our intuition is at work. Where investors make their own subconscious deductions and connections, without selling at them. That familiarity or scenario you are painting helps them to get it in a natural way.
In addition to your words, this can also be accomplished in tandem with the right visual choices in your pitch deck, and your presentation. The colors you use, fonts chosen, pictures, and what you wear, and your body language and voice.
It is necessary to crack this element to tap into this overriding part of the brain, which often vetoes simple logic. It is what makes the difference between people choosing to stay in pain, or the cave, with the status quo, or invested in bonds or the public stock market, instead of making this leap that will improve your lives.
A great, unique, and authentic relatable story makes it even easier to memorize your pitch so that you can present, even if your tech goes down and can’t present your slides on a screen.
Examples That Feel Real
Use examples that make this feel real to them. Use customer pain stories, use cases, and real scenarios for your product and solution. It’s great when you can combine images and a spoken story.
Just as cave paintings, plus a verbal history make a lot more sense. Use these anecdotes to show the impact your startup will have on solving this pain and the value it can have.
A winning pitch deck story is one that evokes emotion. It contrasts pain with pleasure, frustration, and happiness. You can have all the right facts and clean data, though that isn’t what creates a sale. It doesn’t move people enough.
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Not enough to take action. Especially when you are talking about a risky big-ticket item like funding a startup venture.
The right story conveys emotion and passion. It compels them to take action. This part of the narrative involves every step from the problem to the why now, the ask and closing your presentation. Which is why you should learn how storytelling in pitch decks closes more deals?
The Stages Of A Story In Your Pitch Deck
There are nine distinct phases in a pitch deck. These align perfectly with the slides in your deck. Early-stage startup companies need no more than one slide per stage.
Some of these slides may just contain an image, big data point, bold one-liner, or chart. This keeps your deck flowing, clean, and clear. Then fill in the gaps with your verbal story around these key points.
Consider each slide a mini-chapter in your novel. Interweaved to form your overall narrative. Just mind your timing.
You need to be able to deliver your entire pitch in 20 minutes or less. You can always take questions afterward and direct interested investors to your virtual data room for more detail.
These slides can be precluded with a strong cover slide, just like any successful book or movie.
What’s the big problem your startup is going to solve? This is most powerful when you put into story format how you personally encountered this frustration or inefficiency.
Even better if you can relate it to your investor audience and their experiences, and show how you confirmed and vetted the problem with others who you view as your prime customers.
What lengths did you go to in order to prove the need, crystalize it, and show it is widespread enough to warrant creating a business to tackle it?
How are you planning on solving the problem? What’s the big idea here? Where did it come from? What was that eureka moment? How have you tested your thesis for this solution already?
What is this market space? How huge is it in terms of dollars and potential users? Who are these users? How fast is this space growing? Remember to include this information when learning how storytelling in pitch decks closes more deals.
Paint a verbal picture of your market and what’s happening. It may be worth telling a story of how things are changing. The companies being left behind, and those which will rise and soar on this transformation.
What product are you selling? What is the story behind your product? How did you discover this technology?
What are the top three benefits that will change people’s lives? What are your superpowers for creating this product? Are there any patents or trademarks that have been approved?
How much progress have you made already? What interactions have you had with your customers? How many users and paying customers have you accumulated?
What is the story of how you’ve accumulated them? How has this changed the unit economics? What is the feedback?
What are the stories that your customers are telling the world about their experiences with you? And, what trajectory is this putting you on? Answering these questions is understanding how storytelling in pitch decks closes more deals.
Who is on the team? What is the story of your co-founding team members? How have they become the best to take this on? How are they uniquely qualified?
And, how have they proven their talents, capabilities, and perhaps most importantly, that they have the grit and resilience to survive and push through all of the daily challenges to come?
Who is the competition in this space and for your customers? This can help your overall story and the story that investors are telling themselves about this.
Don’t shy away from mentioning your competitors and how well they are doing. This can actually be some of the best evidence and proof that you are onto something and that there is demand and it is big.
So, who are they? Who is getting in? How much are they raising?
This part of the story is all about casting the vision of the great journey ahead. If you have existing financials that can help set this up and give your projections credibility.
Then it is forecasting how much money and profit this business is going to be generating. Including what the potential returns could be. Remember that for the investor this is very much a financial story.
There may be other powerful and more emotional impact elements, but unless you are asking for a charity donation, this about what they are putting in, how it is being multiplied, and the outcome.
9. The Ask
This is a story about the opportunity to participate. To participate in making a difference, and also the difference the financial outcome will make for them.
It’s not just about the numbers on the screen. It is a balance of risk, excitement, FOMO, and the story they can tell themselves about being involved.
Learn how to work these elements and you’ll see how storytelling in pitch decks closes more deals.
The Story Starts Before The Pitch Deck
The story you tell isn’t just restricted to the slides in your pitch deck or your full live presentation. It starts before and around that, and the whole story needs to be cohesive.
Your story begins with investors discovering you and the introduction. It is set up by the elevator pitch and the email messages used to share your deck (which are like the trailer for your story).
When they look you up, your company and personal brand story are playing. They are talking, even if you haven’t put thought into it. So, make sure have been intentional.
It shows up in your marketing, PR, and LinkedIn profiles. They can tell the other parts of the story which don’t fit in a sales presentation. They are looking at if this is my kind of person and are credible. It should bring together the know you, like, trust your trifecta. Make sure that your team is telling the same story and the media is telling it too.
Looking for ideas for how to nail your pitch deck’s narrative? Check out this video I have put together that explains more in detail.
What’s Your Story?
What’s your unique startup’s story?
Find your unique story, lay it out. You have a great story in there. Though chances are that you are not telling it. This can be an especially hard struggle for technical founders, despite their high IQs, or even because of it.
It can take a pro to extract and say it, and give you the courage to tell it. It can be hard to understand, but the storytelling element is often far more important than the technical wizardry or beautiful code you can write.
Creating a strong narrative can be formulated. Just like there are proven business models, the science behind hit songs and bands, and movies or TV series.
Imagine you are going to create the most amazing movie together with your investors. A big Hollywood hit. You have to storyboard out the play in your pitch deck.
Show them here’s the winning script, this is what it is going to take in terms of the cast, budget, etc, to put people in seats in the movie theater or subscribe to streaming services to make it a big hit.
Finally, people are realizing that sales (including fundraising) are about relationships. This has evolved from rudimentary spam advertising to customer-centric models to relational marketing.
It has always been that way, it has just taken some a quarter-century to figure out. This is where your story brings it together and shows what you and your investor audience can achieve together. That’s how storytelling in pitch decks closes more deals.
Closing The Deal
The ultimate secret to closing the deal with these financial backers and bringing your story to life is to know the story investors are telling themselves on a daily basis, and the story they want to be a part of and be real or to tell in their lives.
The great investment they made, and difference they have made, and how it helps them in every other area of their lives. Know your investors and you’ll nail the right story.
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