What will you tell the next generation about COVID 19? Imagine you’re settled in your comfy armchair on your 80th birthday, surrounded by kindergarten kids. What will say? Will you share the statistics, the infection rates and the daily tolls? Or will you tell them stories about business meetings in your pyjamas, the driveway ANZAC ceremonies and the joy of giving your mum a hug after 2 years of separation.
People are more likely to remember facts when they’re wrapped up in a story. The Stanford Graduate School of Economics found that when people listed to a pitch, only 5% recalled a statistic but 63% remembered the stories.
When non-profits are pitching to corporate partners, they sometimes underestimate the human element and the need for emotional connection. We’ve seen a lot of pitches recently and there’s definite room for improvement in how non-profits can inspire a corporate audience.
Use storytelling to paint a picture of the future
Charities have a bucketload of emotional content but seem to go into a brain freeze when presenting to corporate partners. Yes, there will be the rational CFO types around the table, and you will need to show that you understand their business drivers. But don’t waste the opportunity to use that emotional storytelling for maximum impact. It’s especially important for painting a vision of what the partnership could achieve. Send less time on explaining what and how you do what you do, and more on where you’re going.
The master storyteller Alan Clayton once shared his struggles to reposition the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The RSPB was known for having a loyal following of elderly bird watchers in flat caps and tweeds, hiding in bushes. Slightly eccentric and not very inspiring. Instead, he built a vision of environmental protection and regeneration, using children’s personal stories. I remember the quote from a 5-year old:
“I don’t want to live in a world without sparrows”.
How are you telling the story of what your charity is trying to achieve? What is the future that you’re inviting corporates to journey along with you? Can you do better than this real-life example:
“facilitate the development of economic capacity through education and enterprise opportunities to create infinite value and self-reliance”
Personally, I’d take the sparrows every time.
Wean yourself off the PowerPoint deck
Have you noticed that when the PowerPoint slides go up, the whole room stops looking at you and starts reading the slides? It’s a killer for human connection and even more so if you’ve loaded your slides with lots of text and numbers. Challenge yourself about how few slides you can use to tell your story. Or substitute those detailed slides with a simple picture. Remember, pictures trump words and video slays them all. If you’re busy reading off a PowerPoint then you’re missing out on reading the room and engaging the audience. If you want to see a presentation legend, check out Chad Littlefield of Me and We.
Pimp your pitch using props
Props are physical things that allow your corporate audience to be participants rather than passive observers. I once weighed out the exact amounts of food that go into a UN emergency ration. Some rice, dried beans, oil, salt and more. Then I placed it in the middle of a boardroom table and invited executives to see and feel how much a family received for a week. The effect of jars of food that would all fit into my backpack was more memorable than giving stats on the number of kilos distributed.
In his reply speech to the recent Federal budget, the leader of the opposition, Anthony Albanese, said this,
“Last year showed us how rapidly and unpredictably and dramatically the world can change.
But it also gave us a glimpse of how quickly we can change, how fast we can adapt to a new normal and make it work for us. How responsive and creative and flexible and innovative our workplaces and schools and communities can be.
What a tragedy it would be if a glimpse was all we got”
Your charity has got big ambitions to change the world for good. Give your corporate partners more than a glimpse of the future. Tell your stories, throw open the doors and invite them to build it with you.