Prequel Tips
November 10, 2023

Master the Art of Storytelling in Business

Author
Lindsey Schiller
Growth Marketing
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The 3 Act Structure for Effective Stories

What’s your favorite movie? Chances are, the structure of it looks something like this. 👇

All great stories, from Homer's Iliad to Star Wars, have a conflict or tension which make the story interesting. That applies to business presentations too. In business storytelling, the tension is the problem you want to solve, or why you exist. As Melanie Perkins, the founder of billion-dollar company Canva described in an interview:

"If you don't understand the problem, you're not going to understand the solution. If you don't understand the "why", you're not going to understand the "how."

The key is to create an clear understanding of why your proposed idea, product, solution should exist, before diving into what you are creating.

Essential elements of a startup pitch

One of the most common business presentations is a startup pitch to investors (something we coach students on during BETA Camp.) A startup pitch typically has the following components:

👉 The Hook

Just like a movie, novel or newsletter, startup pitches should start with capturing the audiences attention. Often startup founders do this with a unique and relatable origin story. Melanie Perkins started Canva's pitch by talking about her 19-year-old self, earning side income by teaching other students how to use design programs like Photoshop. BETA Camp alum, Mark Zheng started his pitch for health app, Fittma by talking about his experiences as a elite high school athlete.

Other hooks can be an alarming statistic. BETA Camp team Sparkkits introduced their startup by with a simple number: 114 days. That's the total amount of time on average kids spend on screens every year.

There are a huge variety of tactics to get a listeners attention, and often they can blend with the next core element: the problem.

👉 The Problem

This is where you explain why your idea should exist. What is the problem you are here to solve? For Canva, Melanie described how people would spend an entire semester just learning where the basic buttons were on Photoshop. For Fittma, Mark described how hard it is to create nutritional meals on a busy schedule.

👉 The Solution

How does it solve the problem you outlined before? What are the benefits of your product?

Some tips: try to keep this section as simple and straightforward as possible. The goal is to clearly share how this would solve the problem, not explain every feature and element. Secondly, keep it as visual as possible. Slides should show, not tell in profuse bullet points.

Oftentimes, pitches include an additional slide on the business model, that is, how you plan to make money. Again, simplicity is key. Someone should be able to glance at the slide and get it.

👉 The Size of the Opportunity

Every investor will want to see that the problem is large enough to merit an investment. Typically these slides show the size of the overall market, and how much of it you plan to capture.

👉 The Traction

Traction is just a fancy way to say what you have accomplished thus far. Typically when pitching to investors, you already have some accomplishments to indicate that this will likely be a successful venture. The best metrics are actual customers or revenue. But if you are not at that stage yet, other metrics may include how many people are on the waitlist, how many sign ups you have or social media followers acquired. The goal is to demonstrate, credibly, that this is a product or service people want and will pay for.

👉 The Team

Who is behind this? Showcasing your team should not just be to have a face and name on a slide. Ideally, your backgrounds, experience and motivation should demonstrate that you are the right people to execute.

Further Resources

If the above feels overwhelming, good news -- this is exactly what we cover at BETA Camp. After working on their startups for weeks alongside a Startup Advisor, students pitch their ideas to real investors and venture capitalists.

Plus, this is a well covered topic. A few great resources to understand what effective business presentations look like:

Once you have your the structure of your pitch set up, there's also loads of tools to help you design it with pre-formatted templates. Many BETA Camp students use tools like Canva, Pitch.com, or Beatiful.ai to craft a pitch deck that looks as visually stunning as it is persuasive.

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