7 Deadly Sins of Concept Pitching

Pitching a film or video concept is at best a delicate and at worst a dreaded process. You have to convince a whole group of directors, investors, actors, etc. that your story is worth their time, money, and effort. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into pitching a concept – after all, most writers aren’t salesmen. So here’s a list of the 7 deadly sins of concept pitching provided by INC. Magazine (and learnt by us at CLAi the hard way…).

1. You Didn’t Build Suspense – If you give away your concept in the first 30 seconds, what’s left to listen to? Keep it interesting by slowly letting out your concept. Build suspense throughout your pitch and have a strong ending that clarifies your main points.

2. You’re Too Available – By giving the impression that you’re widely available, you give the impression that you’re unimportant. If you set up a time constraint in the beginning of your concept pitch (i.e. state that you’d really like to explain your concept and then have a brief chat because you must be out by 2 pm), you will make more of an impression than someone who sticks around until the end of the day. You don’t want to be perceived as someone who is too available and wastes time.

3. You Scare People – Stick to the emotional value of a concept pitch, don’t bog down your listeners with dry facts. Also stay away from abstract statements, these tend to lower your credibility; INC Magazine says “if your pitch is abstract and lacks visual cues, it could be interpreted as a threat.” Remain positive and warm; if people are receptive to you they are more likely to be receptive to your concept.

4. You BS the Expert – Don’t tell little white lies during a concept pitch, especially ones that you could get caught in right then and there. For example, if a potential investor asks how much your projected costs are, don’t omit expenses that you think he might not find out about. This behavior is likely to get you called out in front of everyone and greatly lowers your credibility.

5. You’re Too Nice – Oftentimes when pitching a concept, it’s tempting to be too nice. While remaining friendly is a must, you want to maintain the upper hand. Maintain control of the pitch by refusing to offer up too much information. People want the information you hold without having to pay for it. Don’t offer up your expertise without making sure that they uphold their end of the bargain and embrace your concept.

6. You Quote Dead People – It’s tempting to rely on the wise words of past leaders, artists, or personal heroes. However resist this temptation, as it makes you appear juvenile and desperate for time filler. Search within for the inspirational quotes, don’t turn to others.

7. You’re Boring – Your concept is interesting and innovative, don’t make it seem boring by representing it in a boring way. Be the idea and story that everyone wants to hear about. If you come in speaking about boring or unrelated details, you’re story gets diminished to the background. Don’t get distracted from your concept.

We would like to add #8 to INC’s list.

8. Always Be Prepared – You never know when the guy falling off his bar stool might just be THE investor. Have your 30 second, 3 minute, and complete pitch ready, and include business cards and a website. But please, please, please don’t sit next to any of us while you try them all out!