Over the past month, we’ve been helping two start-ups working with one of our clients to refine their pitches, and make a compelling case as to why people should invest in them — in 6 minutes.
It was an exercise in what the gurus around this place call “reductive storytelling.”
In a world where 130-slide presentations are becoming the norm, the art of taking things out is a dying one. A constraint like 6 minutes forces discipline and making choices.
It was also an exercise in the importance of confidence and a strong sense of self.
These start-ups were participating in a three-month program in which they made their pitches dozens of times to a rotating collection of mentors and brand name gurus.
If there’s one thing mentors and gurus are good at it’s giving advice.
One of the companies knew who they were and what they wanted to do. They took some of the advice, and ignored other pieces of it.
In other words, they knew when to stop listening.
We worked closely with them, and helped them create a stellar presentation. I have no doubt they are going to make it.
The other company listened to everything.
The barrage of mentors didn’t help them harden their vision. It made them question every decision. They re-wrote their pitch every few days.
In the end, their final presentation was better than their initial one.
But their uncertainty raised lots of questions about their prospects for success.
These two experiences mirror how pitches tend to go down.
You have pitches with a clear vision and strong leadership. And pitches that lurch from review to review.
I’d recommend the former.