The worst thing your pitch or story can be is forgettable and boring. Not only does it mean your audience won't internalize your message, they also won't see you as an effective person, tainting everything you do.

Let me try this: I'm going to tell you the same story in two ways.

Polar Bear Pitching gathers hundreds of participants from around the world every year in Finland to pitch their company or idea to investors. The pitch is done without a time limit, but while standing in an arctic ice hole. People from all over the world attend. I pitched my new online course, and suggested people invest in their communication skills.

It's got all the information, but, yawn. OK, now, let me try again:

I'm in sub-freezing water, up to my nipples in a hole carved into the foot-thick ice of the Baltic Sea staring up at a group of top notch global investors here in Finland and I 'm learning something important - being submerged in ice cold sea water has a way of focusing your mind on the most important parts of your pitch. That's why I love Polar Bear Pitching in Oulu, Finland!

What?

Hopefully you've got questions... "Why were you in the Baltic Sea in the Winter? How is being in a frozen sea relevant? How did the cold make your pitch better? Was it painful? What event is it that you're describing?"

The goal is to have you start asking me questions, and eventually you'll learn the whole story. But, it'll be a conversation, an interaction, where you're trying to learn more, thinking through the details and pulling them towards you. Now, which of those do you think would work best, for that?

How to, quite actually, etch yourself into people's minds

The brain forms connections, builds new neural connections best, in two scenarios: when it has to work for something, and when something triggers a powerful emotion. You can leverage both with good, succinct storytelling that leaves your listeners wanting to ask questions and getting them involved.

Think back to math class - it was not my best subject. When I sat there watching the professor lecture, I was in passive reception mode. The memory floated on the surface, but faded as soon as I left the room. However, when I finally sat down to do the work, figure it out on my own and really focus my attention, the neural connections I made really took root.

Your paleomammalian, ancient brain evolved to focus on what it thinks is most important thing to keep you alive right now, and we have some pretty old fashioned hardware for deciding things like that. Things which take a lot of focus and attention must be important. Things that inspire fear, anger, happiness, lust, joy... essentially any powerful emotion and focus, will make the memory stick.

Putting it all together

So, putting it all together, if you make your audience work a little bit for your story they will be far more involved, and you will be remembered far better. Tease them with a juicy snippet that is charged with a powerful emotion to get their attention. Danger, risk, excitement, opportunity: think "grabber headlines" in real life. But, don't give the full story. Give them just enough to get them interested, then have them pursue the interaction with you. Walk them through your train of thought, letting them come to the final conclusion on their own, or at least tease it out of you.

This combination of giving your audience just enough to make them curious, in other words, NOT telling the whole story, and creating emotional energy around what you're sharing will mean those neurons will form memories that last, literally making your story, or pitch, a part of their brain forever. Cool, huh?

Published on: Jul 6, 2017