Be Pitch Perfect – Win New Business from Multimedia Story-telling


Amazingly apt. Wise words from the Dalai Lama. What does it have to do with pitching effectively, story-telling or multimedia? Everything. As humans we love to talk. Only the other day I was at a meeting where my client was explaining the concept and purpose of their project. Such passion. Such words. All talk. As I listened, I gleaned as much about the project as I did their personalities; unprepared, unsure and unguided. It was all about them. There was nothing in this chat that provided me with reason to want to listen in depth, to discover more or to feel an affinity with the project.

However, had they stopped to understand why I might be interested in this project or why I wanted to listen to them or what I may have wanted to discover about them – I could have been won over.

It is often a defence mechanism or an arrogance on part of people pitching to others, that they immerse themselves in their own words, forgetting why they’re pitching in the first place. That’s why talking alone will not win you a pitch – but listening to your audience will. Listening allows the discovery of something new and that is how successful people in business, charities, enterprises, the public sectors or corporations win pitches.

Finding The Right Pitch

Let’s begin at the beginning. What is a pitch? In the dictionary the word has several referenced meanings relevant to different scenarios, one of which is persuasion. Here ‘pitch’ means “a speech or act that attempts to persuade or buy or do something”

To pitch effectively, you the ‘pitcher’ need to learn something new or discover something new about the target audience. This way you can adapt your pitch with a twist, a fresh perspective or a new fact that will hold the attention of your audience.

When selling a new idea, a product or a partnership – the person you are selling to wants to know ‘WHY YOU’? This ‘WHY YOU’ means they need to discover something about your idea, concept, product or partnership that they didn’t know before.

This is their ‘take away’. This gives them a reason to adopt your idea, to buy into your concept, to like your product or be in partnership with you.

Finding Something New

This can be done via research of the target audience. Looking into areas such as their psychology, their habits, their desires, hopes, dreams aspirations, their goals and daily routines.

Interviewing people close to your target audience or members of the team you will be pitching to, gives you first hand insights.

Background research of a company, it’s achievements, it’s vision, it’s ethics, it’s news, it’s people, it’s past, present and future goals add the finishing touches to your  ‘storypitch’.

Finding Your Angle

As a trained journalist, programme-maker and story-teller, I adapt stories according to who I am trying to appeal to. In the same way, a pitch presentation using multimedia, is no different. I see ‘finding your angle’, as another way to ‘see the story’. It is almost as if you are standing at a different section of a triangle at various times looking in at the same central point. Everyone is on different trajectories, but aiming for the same ending. Tracking these lines of thought provides a creative power house of story ideas. Then like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces that best fit can be lined up together. This creates your final ‘storyline’ and you have found your angle.

Finding Your Platform

The final story reached collaboratively needs to be adapted and developed for particular mediums of story-telling presentation. How do you know if your story suits a multimedia approach? An easy litmus test is SAC.

S —      SIMPLE             Is your story simply told?

A —    AUTHENTIC      Is your story authentic?

C —     CREATIVE         Is your story creative visually?

By collaboratively asking yourselves the SAC questions you will be able to work out if your story is a multimedia fit.

Finding The Balance

Everything depends on the final pitch presentation. This story-telling performance can tip the balance. Structuring the presentation is like telling a story. It must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Hook your audience in straight away at the beginning. Build in a timed talk that’s relevant to the multimedia story-telling element. End on a take home thought that brings the audience back round from their journey of discovering something new. A new equilibrium is created. The final pitch presentation won.

Anshu Rastogi is a story-telling expert helping charities, SME’s & individuals to win new business and understand the pitching process through visual media.

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How Successful People Use Video

Successful people can be measured in many ways, their personality traits, their attitude, their beliefs and their status in terms of finance, career and personal life. After working with a handful of successful people over the years, I have noticed common characteristics. One of these being the ability to adapt to change and adapt well.

Virgin’s Richard Branson, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Mashable’s Pete Cashmore, all successful people, continue to grow and grow, trailblazing through their journey with flexibility, fearlessness & foresight. How? They think, observe, research, analyse, take risks & passionately adapt to changes. For those of us on the other side watching, we see them as ‘being ahead of the game’, the leaders setting trends and influencing the marketplace.

It comes as no surprise, Richard Branson acted quickly with the smartphone & video on demand explosion, Mark Zuckerberg pushed his social network forward into video live streaming and Pete Cashmore has ‘mashed up’ the world of video and tv with his own studio capability & channels. All examples of successful people doing what they do best, deciding, committing & succeeding.

Using video story-telling right now – whoever you are – is a ‘successful’ thing to do. You are ‘on trend’ and ‘ahead of the game’ because by 2019, people across the globe will be viewing a million minutes of video story content on the web every second. Takes your breath away, right?

I am always intrigued by how successful people use video. Through my observations and story-telling consulting, I see many common links. They fall into the following:

Overcoming Fear

Successful people using video story-telling overcome their fears, harness this energy and convert it into a force of action, creativity & results. How? Like many people when faced with a new approach, a deadline or a creative challenge, it can be hard to switch off fearful thoughts, similar to a ‘twitter feed’ – constantly on & updating. However successful people manage through positive thinking to override these negative fear thoughts and literally log out of their ‘ego’s twitter fear feed’ and log into their mind’s ‘positive reinforcement news-feed’ instead.

An amazing example of this is during a troubled period for the well known chocolate brand, Cadbury’s. It was at a time when sales were failing & people were falling out of love with them. Fear was ultimately the driving force behind the push from the management team to reach out, try something new and take a leap of faith. What ensued was one of the most successful video story-telling campaigns of the last ten years. By overcoming their fears, both the Directors at Cadbury’s & the creative team at Fallon used this energy to create a memorable and entertaining formatted video that touched the funny bones of over 6 million people within 3 months of its release. Converting fear to creativity whilst producing content is one of the many ways successful people use video story-telling.

The Journey, The Story

There is always a path taken to reach any destination. There is always a journey a successful person must embark on before they can tell their story. This narrative is a powerful tool – for an individual their story becomes their identity & for a business their story becomes their brand. Recognising the elements of a journey and translating this into story-telling is what all successful people using video do.

They harness the ‘magnetic pull’ of a story to their advantage. Once the influence of a story has permeated and left its mark, the opportunities for more and more stories then develop. In this way, one video leads to another and another and another.

By breaking down a journey, story points emerge & evolve, providing ideas, content and purpose. These could be the thoughts behind developing a series of explainer videos for a product or a vlogger’s newest make-up tips. Recognition of this ‘journey’ becomes the ‘story’, which becomes the video. No one does this better than Apple. Simple thoughts, translated into an engaging story-telling video promotes the first ever ‘iphone’.

Foresight, Risks & Opportunities

Foresight is an ability we all wish for. Risk-taking is a quality we must embrace. Opportunities are what we all crave. For successful people using video story-telling, one leads to the other. Being vigilant of industry news and trends, networking & planning ahead are all skills people use to anticipate the next ‘big thing’ in their sphere of expertise. Having prescience to predict a trend requires complete faith in taking risks and decision-making. This then creates the opportunity. In the same way, not so many years ago, Google owners decided to take the plunge when they bought YouTube in October 2006, predicting then it would be “the next step in the evolution of the internet”. They were right. Today, YouTube is the world’s most popular video sharing website with over 4 billion video views a day. Similarly, one of YouTube’s original co-founders, Steve Chen, using his insights and ability to predict trends, has taken the leap of faith to launch a live interactive YouTube Cooking Channel, called Nom.This opportunity was created after ascertaining one of YouTube’s most popular uploads are cooking video’s. Using foresight and having the confidence to take the risk, Steve Chen has created a hugely profitable opportunity out of food-based video stories.

Target Your Audience Better Than Anyone Else

Successful people using video story-telling are masters of understanding their audience and their marketplace. They take time to get to know their viewers. By this, they invest in research such as focus groups, surveys, analytics, following habits & isolating trends. Big businesses & brands can afford to take these routes where as others, such as individuals, must engage with their followers emotionally & socially to fully understand what it is they need and what it is they love. Once you ‘get’ what makes ‘your people tick’ you are on the road to success. Combining skills of great research & analysis with intuition accomplishes brilliant results. This is well documented during the making of Facebook’s “How To’ video series where deep insights about their audience needs dictate their video story-telling.

Keeping It Simple

You will notice in life stress levels, mis-understanding and time consumption all increase when we are deluged with complications & complex information. It is no wonder it’s been found that we take in an average of over 6 newspapers worth of knowledge every day. Leading a successful life involves being able to wade through the data minefield or rather understand how to target it and get what you need from it! In the same way, the best video story is always simple, clear and dynamic. With smart phone viewing rising exponentially, the simpler the story-telling the better. As proven by Google, using this 15 second viral video to launch it’s Google app – simple, clear & dynamic – easy to absorb, offering new information to it’s audience, an entertaining narrative & watchable from any smartphone any where in the world!

Tech – Talks

Talking is often underrated, whereas communication is seen as a desired skill associated with successful people. Whether you are talking or communicating, it is essential for you to make sure you are heard and your message is understood. Sometimes to do this, successful communicators may throw in an analogy or a funny anecdote or they might use the art of gesticulating to make their message clearer and more engaging. In the same way as we use the art of ‘conversation’, we use video story-telling. Successful people use video to tell their stories, to enhance their messages & engage with friends, colleagues, customers and followers. Remembering that good communication is all about talking & creating a conversation around a message, successful people using video will incorporate technology & innovation to do just that. Some ways in which a message can be enhanced and then a conversation turned into ‘chinese whispers’ through video story-telling include using the latest motion graphics, virtual reality, hand drawn animation, live streaming, observational filming, drama or immersive platforms.

It doesn’t matter if you are a brand looking to produce the next big video or an individual looking to make it as a popular vlogger. Successful people using video  story-telling will always manipulate technology to enhance their messages & create ‘great conversations’ as Samsung shows with their promotional video introducing the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

Failure To Launch

There’s been a lot of recent articles about why failure is good if it’s seen as a journey, a learning curve to move forward from. Successful people re-frame mistakes or rejections as motivation to find a better route to their destination. When an idea is not working, they choose to walk away and take a different path. This is key in creating great video story-telling too. Some stories, however how hard you try, will not suit a video format. Businesses and individuals have to make decisions about quantity over quality and money over exposure. It definitely takes courage to accept that the idea behind the new branded content just doesn’t make a dynamic story. What evolves however is a new idea or a fresh injection of energy to start over and try out a different approach. The creative process requires the successful person using video story-telling to experience ‘failure’ and to use it as a tool for their next big idea. In the same way, Evian Water, had to try a number of approaches to producing videos about their story until they hit the jackpot with the dancing babies.

Money Worries

Always thinking about money isn’t healthy for anyone, which is why successful people are not motivated by money alone, but by passion, enjoyment, vision, recognition & making a difference. When thinking about great video story-telling the focus of those producing it is around the story, the purpose, the difference it could make, the numbers it could reach, the information and conversations it could share & the fun involved. Using this kind of positive energy creates fantastic video stories.

Focusing on budgets as a restriction and making money dampens creative thought and limits the possibilities. Yes, it’s true some of the best video stories may have had huge budgets but then again it’s also true that some of the best video’s have been made on a shoe-string. From what I know and have seen, clouding the creative mind with money woes is counter productive. As many successful people have proven entrepreneurial spirit arises when money alone is not the prime motivation.  One of the best viral videos & stories of the last ten years is one that has inspired weddings all over the world – it required no money, just a pure passion of sharing their joy with others.

Supportive Connections

Working in a team and collaborating with others is what successful people thrive on. They are great at making mutually beneficial connections. They know how to bring people together as a team. Being in a supportive network encourages success. Whilst using video story-telling, successful people realise collaboration is key. Teamwork is the foundation of producing brilliant video stories. This includes everyone, from the people who serve the tea on shoots to those high up who initiated the idea. Even individuals using video require the teamwork of the systems they have in place and the followers to provide feedback, more stories and a platform for success. Companies, charities and business all rely on work flows to support the varied and voluminous video story content they produce as well as the teams that actually create the stories. A great showcase of supportive systems, team-working and effective connections, both in terms of technology and people, is the company Red Bull. They have taken their creative energy and developed appropriate video story channels and workflows to promote their product and passion for sport. In addition, they are making money out of it too!