Whether you’ve got five minutes to pitch your startup or your screenplay, you need to grab and situate your audience fast. Here are two techniques to help you do that.

1. Unique but familiar

Storytellers know how to get an audience on board by situating them in what's familiar before introducing their unique take. For example, the movie SPEED was pitched as “DIE HARD on a bus.” By comparing a new movie to a successful one, we know exactly what kind of film to expect. The unique take--the twist--is the "on the bus" part. We immediately begin to imagine the movie. We can easily imagine the scenes in our head. That’s why the formula “It’s X for Y” can be useful for startup pitches, as in “My startup is Airbnb for parking.” Your listeners can begin to see your idea. Be careful, however. This technique is becoming overused. Apply it only when there's a comparison that's a perfect fit for your concept.

2.Origin of the idea

Another way to quickly get an audience on board is to tell the story of how you came up with your idea. Whenever I pitch my script about a sleepwalking family, I always talk about the real family who inspired me. Not only does it situate the audience, it also lets them know that my fictional family is based on a real, albeit rare, phenomenon. This helps quell my listeners' disbelief and allows them to slip into the universe of my story.

Bottom line, whether you’re pitching a groundbreaking startup or entertainment project, find an entry point that you can use to situate your audience quickly.

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