Innovation Blog

Tamsen Webster's 3 Fatal Flaws of Pitching


Cater To Your Specific Audience

The first fatal flaw in pitching is solving the wrong problem as it relates to the specific person you are talking to. For example, an investor is going to care far more about getting the return on her investment than about the ways this product is going to address the pain point in the market place. Customers on the other hand, want to hear about the product and the effect it will have on their lives. Tamsen states that human beings are fundamentally self centered. So if a pitch doesnt interest them upfront by appealing to their specific needs and wants, they will more than likely stop listening 5 minutes in and start to think about whether they want chicken or steak for dinner tonight.

So, how do you make it relevant to them? It is important to remember the process by which humans decide things: We first need to know certain things, in order to believe certain things, which leads us to do certain things. Keeping this in mind, Websters Holy Trinity, as she calls it, is Audience, Action, Problem. In other words, work backwards. First, understand the problem the audience has. Then, determine what they need to believe you will do to solve their problem. To get them to believe that, you need to ask yourself: what do they need to know?


Timing Is Everything

The second fatal flaw is to present the wrong content at the wrong time. Or worse, she adds, the right content at the wrong time. So take it slow and start with the why: educate them on the pain point. Why is your product going to be great for the market? Then, once they understand this, gradually shift into how your product works. (But remember: ditch the technical jargon)

Facts Are Interesting But Passion Commands Attention

The last fatal flaw is failing to engage belief. Overall, this belief is a summation of the first two flaws. An important tool in accomplishing this is engaging emotion by illustration. Humans are not rational decision makers. We make decisions without logic and then justify it with old reasons; use emotion to really pack a punch, and your audience can justify later based on the ace content you present.

Success in the belief factor can also be illustrated as the magic spot in the middle of three circles:

  1. Is it your passion?

  2. Will the world pay for it?

  3. Can you do it? More importantly, will you do it?

Tamsen presented this venn diagram as an adaptation of the hedgehog concept by Jim Collins. She urged finalists to be passionate while pitching. From there, present a business model that you know people will pay attention to and pay for. The reason that people tend not to hit all three and land in that magic spot, she said, is gravity. Just like there are physical laws like gravity and inertia, there are laws governing how people communicate, process information, and make decisions. So eliminate your audiences inertia! Capture their attention, convince them to deviate from the direction their mind was going in (Chicken or steak tonight?) and prove to them that you and your product are worthy of their attention (and money).


The Hedgehog Concept:

Hedgehog concept copy.jpg

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