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Win Buy-In from Decision-Makers in 60 Seconds or Less

By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

As the author of POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything (Perigee – Penguin, ’09) (which Seth Godin calls “Revolutionary” and Ken Blanchard says is a “lively guide to getting heard, getting results”), I’m often asked to coach start-ups who will be requesting venture capital.

I had the pleasure of delivering the luncheon keynote for the Ignite Clean Energy Summit in Boston for the MIT Center for Enterprise.  Following my presentation, I conducted on-the-spot coaching of the national semi-finalists who were all developing “green” businesses.

Based on feedback from the group, the following POP! Your Pitch tips were particularly helpful in helping them create winning pitches they presented to potential investors the following day.

These tips work whether you’re delivering a pitch, making a sales presentation or speaking at a conference. Review this POP! Your Pitch checklist before every presentation you give so you capture and keep the favorable interest of listeners and command the respect you want, need and deserve.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #1:

Say something in the first 30 seconds that gets peoples’ eyebrows up.  A series of “Did you know?” questions that introduce startling statistics or surprising news is a great way to cause people to look up from their Blackberries and decide you’re worth listening to.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #2.

The purpose of a venture capital pitch is NOT to get funding; it’s to get a follow-up meeting.  It’s idealistic to think an investor is going to give you millions after a 10 minute pitch. It’s realistic to sufficiently intrigue and impress an investor in 10 minutes so they’re compelled to find out more.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #3.

Turn audience members into word-of-mouth advertisers by crafting a rhythmic catchphrase people can repeat, word for word.  The best way to craft an AIR-tight sound bite is to use Alliteration, Iambic Meter and Rhyme.  For example, “Click it or ticket” is better than “Buckle Up for Safety.”   I helped an Ignite Clean Energy team come up with “Any plug, anytime, anywhere” as a tagline for their electric car.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #4.

Insert a one-minute story about how clients have benefited from your company so decision-makers have context (not just content) and connect with you on an emotional and logical level.  As the Official Pitch Coach for Springboard Enterprises (which has helped women entrepreneurs receive $4 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in venture capital, I helped Lauren Williams of Movie Hatch craft a success story about a client who went from having his film collecting dust on a closet shelf to winning the Jackson Hole film festival in less than 4 months.  Her 60 second story captured the interest of everyone in the room.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #5.

 Your confidence is indicated by the authority and volume of your voice. If people can’t hear you, they conclude you don’t have the confidence or clout to carry off your venture.  I once saw a woman who ran a Fortune 100 company lose a corporate audience at a national convention in the first 2 minutes because she had a little-girl voice that ended with upward inflection that made her seem tentative.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #6.

 Your business name is a deal-maker or deal-breaker. Do people “get” your business name the first time they hear it? If they don’t understand it, they can’t relate to it and they won’t want it. Zappos, Google and Yahoo are all fun to say. Arxcis, GPM Technologies, Sempran BioScience, and other difficult-to-pronounce names make people go “huh?”  You’ve spend months (years?) developing your idea. Invest in its success by giving it a name people like and remember.  (My POP! book can help you do this.)

POP! Your Pitch Tip #7.

 PROPS! When you hold up a sample of your product, people SEE what you’re SAYING.  Show and tell is infinitely more intriguing than tell, tell, tell.  I coached an entrepreneur who is developing a “green, biodegradable needle” to start off her pitch by saying, “Did you know 1.8 billion injections are given every year worldwide?  Did you know more than half of them are unsafe?  They spread the very diseases they’re trying to prevent because they use used needles.”  She held up a baggie with a “used needle” and then contrasted it with her 100% safe, one-use needle.  The visual proof was powerful.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #8.

 Tower, don’t cower. The perception of your leadership is measured by your posture. A fig-leaf position means you have something to hide. Hunched shoulders and a tucked-down head are signs of insecurity. Adopt an athletic stance (feet apart, not together), roll your shoulders back, hold your head up and make steady eye contact with everyone in the room at least once to project confidence and command respect.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #9.

 The two most powerful words in a pitch? “For example.” Back up each claim with a real-life example with quantifiable metrics and measurable evidence (i.e., 30% increase in sales, 20% reduction in turnover, took company public with a $10 million profit, grew an organization to 300 employees) so investors know you’ve delivered bottom-line results before and can be trusted to do so again.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #10.

Don’t just ask for the sale – plant a specific action seed by telling them where to find you immediately afterwards. For example, “I’m Chris, in the green jacket, with CleanerGreenerNow. I’ll be (point) in the back corner at the next break. I welcome your questions and would be glad to provide specific details on how we’re going to scale this in the next 12 months.”


“Instant gratification takes too long.” – Carrie Fisher

As a communication strategist and pitch coach, I often have clients tell me, “You can’t say anything in 10 minutes.”

One client, who was pitching a room full of investors at the Paley Center in New York City, said, “Sam, there’s no way I can explain my company, team credentials, business model and exit strategy in 10 minutes.”

I said, “Kathleen, you don’t have 10 minutes. You’re going at 2:30 in the afternoon. Those investors will already have heard 15 other presenters. By that point, their eyes will be glazed over. You’ve got 60 seconds to get their eyebrows up.”

The good news is, we came up with a 60 second opening that not only got the interest and respect of that audience, it helped Kathleen Callendar of Pharma Jet land millions in funding and become selected as one of Business Week’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2010.

(The full story is in this Fast Company article on How to Gain Buy-In to your Idea in 60 Seconds or Less. http://www.fastcompany.com/1751298/how-gain-buy-your-idea-60-seconds-or-less

So, what does that have to do with Super Bowl Sunday?

USA Today editors just selected the top 25 Super Bowl ads of the past 24 years … and all of them are 60 seconds or less.

Chances are, if you’ve seen them, you remember them and remember them … fondly.

They prove you can pack a lot into 60 seconds. You can win buy-in from target decision-makers, tell a compelling story and keep your brand and message top-of-mind, years after the fact.

As journalist Laura Petrecca reports in this article the winning ad “is the 1993 Nothing But Net commercial in which Michael Jordan and Larry Bird shoot an outlandish game of H-O-R-S-E ,” trying to out-do each other to win the right to dine on a McDonald’s Big Mac.”


What’s this mean for you?

What’s a communication you’ve got coming up? A communication in which you want to win buy-in from decision-makers and customers?

Don’t waste the first 60 seconds with preliminary, perfunctory remarks. No, “I’m glad to be here ….” Or “When Bob asked me to speak …” or “Before I start, let me …”

In this day and age of instant gratification, you will already have lost the hearts and minds of your audience if you start with … INFObesity.

Instead, jump into something intriguing that gets people’s eyebrows up. It’s the single best thing you can do to make sure your pitch, presentation, commercial or communication wins buy-in for what you care about.

Are you thinking, “I agree with the importance of doing this; I just don’t know how to do it.”

Want good news? My E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST system shows you how to earn the attention and respect of any audience … in 60 seconds or less.

Discover for yourself why these techniques have been won raves from clients around the world (London, Geneva, Toronto and throughout the U.S.) and have helped people receive millions in funding while helping their products, services and business break out instead of blend in.


Purchase it today to instantly have these E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST tips at your fingertips … so you can have people at hello next time you want their attention and respect.