In many pitch presentations, there’s a struggle between how people perceive the decision maker’s status and how they want the decision maker to perceive their own status. It can’t both be higher status, yet that’s what many try to balance.
When someone asks for an investment, the natural reaction for most is to perceive their status as lower. After all, it’s the investor’s decision to invest or not. So, people act accordingly. It shows in the way the decision maker lets you wait. It shows in the way people let the decision maker handle the agenda. And it also shows in the way people prepare their story: they will try to please the decision maker.
They do this by playing a high status game. By praising their product, their team, and their achievement, by painting glorious pictures of market potential and future profits. They try hard to raise their status. Or rather, they try hard to give the impression of having high status.
Because what they actually do is cement their status. People acknowledge the other party to be in charge precisely because they try so hard to please the other party. The struggle is this: How can you acknowledge the decision maker’s status without lowering your own?
By changing the rules of the game. You don’t convince the decision maker but make her see. You don’t praise your idea but tell the truth. Because – if you’ve done the hard work of actually making a great product – all you have to do is paint a realistic picture. So that the decision maker doesn’t have to be persuaded because she will decide to do the right thing when only she can see it.
This is the art of pitching: resonate with what the decision maker believes and make her see what’s the right thing to do.
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