Pitch Anything: Summary Review & Takeaways
This is a summary review of Pitch Anything containing key details about the book.
What is Pitch Anything About?
Pitch Anything describes a formula to help deliver a winning pitch in any business situation. According to the author, creating and presenting a great pitch isn’t an art—it is simple science. Applying the latest findings in the field of neuroeconomics, while sharing eye-opening stories of his method in action, the book describes how the brain makes decisions and responds to pitches.
Who is the Author of Pitch Anything?
Oren Klaff is one of the world's leading experts on sales, raising capital and negotiation. His first book, Pitch Anything, is required reading throughout Silicon Valley, Wall Street and the Fortune 500, with more than 1,000,000 copies in print worldwide.
- Print length: 240 Pages
- Audiobook: 25 mins
- Genre: Business, Nonfiction, Psychology
What are key takeaways from Pitch Anything?
Takeaway #1. Pitch to the Primitive Reptilian Brain
Our pitches often fail due to an evolutionary gap in the human brain which makes it difficult for people to perceive our words as we want them to.
Our brains have evolved in 3 different stages resulting in 3 distinct parts. The first part of the human brain to develop was the primitive reptilian part of the brain aka the croc brain - this is the part of our brain which keeps us alive due to the strong survival mechanism and the fight or flight instinct. The next part of our brain to develop was the midbrain - this allowed us to understand more complex situations including social interactions. Lastly, the sophisticated neocortex evolved which gave us reasoning and the ability to understand complex things.
You have most likely tried pitching using your sophisticated neocortex part of your brain as this allows you to put your ideas into words so that you can convey them to other people. The problem is that when people listen to you, their primitive reptilian part of the brain is tuned in. At best this means that unless your idea is new or exciting it gets ignored and at worst if what you’re saying is too abstract or complex, it can be perceived as a threat making your audience flee.
The solution is to pitch to the primitive reptilian brain and not the sophisticated neocortex. As you learn a little about neuropsychology in this book, you’ll soon learn how to take control of any persuasive social encounter and make it work for you.
Takeaway #2. Use Desire and Tension To Secure Your Audience’s Attention
Use the sensations of desire (via reward) and tension (via loss) to keep the attention of your audience throughout your pitch by flooding their brains with dopamine and norepinephrine.
Desire doesn’t necessarily have to be a prize or a reward, it can be the pleasure of solving a puzzle or understanding something new - An entertaining presentation (something novel) can also work wonders if the audience were expecting a ‘bog standard’ speech with a PowerPoint slideshow but you come in with the bells and whistles!
Tension meanwhile, makes people alert - Use some low-level conflict with a powerful push-pull strategy to get them hooked. You might go in saying that ‘this product isn’t for everyone but it will blow the minds of the few who are ready for it”. Also, make the audience realize that there’s a lot at stake if they don’t take you up on the opportunity you’re putting in front of them.
Takeaway #3. Establish Frame Control and You’ll Be Able To Control The Meeting
Different people have different perspectives (known as frames) based on their intelligence, values, and ethics. When two people’s perspectives clash, only the stronger frame can survive so when you learn to take control of the frame, you gain more influence.
This is easy to understand when thinking about getting stopped by a police officer whilst driving - Most of us will instantly cower to the authority figure, apologizing for speeding or for not knowing our brake light was out meaning that the police officer’s frame has overpowered our own and that they are controlling the encounter.
The person whose frame prevails takes control of every aspect of the meeting from content to duration to tone with their ideas and statements accepted as fact. In a business meeting, for example, you might be focused on quality but the customer is focused on price, providing your frame prevails you will be able to convince them that the product is worth the price due to the superior quality.
In other words, without frame control, you are unlikely to have a successful pitch.
Takeaway #4. Know How To Counter The Power Frame, Time Frame, and Analysis Frame.
You will encounter stereotypical perspectives (frames) as you go about pitching and must know how to counter them confidently.
The arrogant person is portraying a power frame - To succeed here you must not do or say anything that validates their power instead, use defiance and denial. For example, if you feel that you’re not being taken seriously - yank your product samples away from that person or close down the PowerPoint presentation saying that you don’t want to waste any more of your time on someone who is not taking you seriously.
The person who is stingy with their time is playing the time frame - Don’t let their assertiveness over time knock you - When they say “I only have 10 minutes left” say “That’s ok, I only have 5 minutes left myself before I need to wrap things up”.
Lastly, the person who is fixated on figures and minor technical details is portraying the analyst frame. Don’t underestimate this last frame as they will bog down your pitch with their questions and try to pick holes in every fact and figure you give them. The solution is to keep your answers direct and high-level, going straight back to your pitch with a compelling personal story that you don’t finish to keep them gripped - For example, you might say ‘It costs $25 to produce. Anyway, there we were in the pitch black going far too fast downhill without brakes… But I digress, back to the pitch…” This counter-frame known as the intrigue frame gets the focus back on you and what you have to say whilst leaving your opponent sitting up and taking notice wondering ‘what happened next?’
Takeaway #5. You Are The Prize. Let Your Audience Seek Your Approval
When you go into a pitch seeking funding, for example, your audience will generally consider themselves superior to you as they are the ones who have the money (the prize) that you want. Reframe the situation so that your audience considers you the prize that they want to catch.
Avoid agreeing to last-minute schedule changes to the meeting and never ask ‘what do you think so far’ when actually pitching. Instead, you can make sure the ball is in your court by asking ‘Why should I do business with you?’
By making this prize frame shift your audience will have to work for your acceptance rather than you having to work for theirs meaning you’ll have the upper hand.
Takeaway #6. Trigger a Positive Gut Reaction by Stacking Frames
Us humans are more likely to make decisions based on gut instinct rather than rational analysis. In fact, we tend to decide about something before we fully understand it and only later come up with reasons to back up our gut instinct.
Our gut reactions can also be called hot cognitions with cold cognitions on the other end of the scale, these being our decisions that happen through rational reasoning. It’s your job as the pitcher to trigger a hot cognition in your audience seconds you’ve introduced your idea to them, this is much more preferential than them reaching a cold cognitional aka rational decision days later.
Trigger the hot cognition by introducing multiple frames quickly, one after the other. Starting with the intrigue frame where you tell a compelling story that solves a dilemma (remembering to leave the audience on a cliffhanger to get their attention) you then pull in the prize frame - flipping the table on your audience so that they’re the ones that have to impress you enough so that you’ll do business with them. The time frame is used last, adding pressure to your pitch by saying it’s a time-limited offer, etc.
Takeaway #7. Neediness Kills The Pitch
As mentioned above, you must always make the audience think that they need you more than you need them because neediness is a sign of weakness and if the primitive reptile brains of the audience sniff neediness and anxiety, they’ll flee taking their money with them.
To eliminate any neediness you need to eliminate your desires, or at least make them more invisible. Focus on your strengths and demonstrate your excellence rather than your wants and needs.
Last but not least, know when to withdraw. Human nature may have you wanting to beg at this point but don’t! Say ‘I’m not convinced we would work well together’ - When played correctly this strategy will have your audience begging you to consider them rather than the other way round.
Takeaway #8. Attain Situational Alpha Status
In every social encounter, a dominant alpha emerges with other participants taking subordinate beta positions. In order to be persuasive, you have to ensure that you’re the alpha in the situation at hand.
Oftentimes your audience will try to weaken you into beta status by making you wait in the lobby before they’re ready for you, for example. Ignore their tactics and dish out some of your own, making use of small acts of defiance such as not letting your audience see your papers until you’re good and ready in an attempt to take the alpha status.
Takeaway #9. Keep Your Pitch Short and Simple
Put your audience at ease by letting them know you’ll be keeping the pitch short and to the point - If you know your subject, you can pitch anything in 20 minutes.
Introduce yourself by outlining your impressive successes but don’t get bogged down with your full resume since leaving school. Before telling your audience your ‘big idea’, let them know why now is the ideal time to invest, and why the window of opportunity won’t remain open for long.
Then, use the following outline to pitch your idea... “For [target customers] who are unhappy with [current offerings on the market], my product is a [new and novel idea] that provides [key solutions to problem] unlike [competitor’s product]. My product has [key features].
It can be as simple as that.
What are the chapters in Pitch Anything?
1 The Method
2 Frame Control
4 Pitching Your Big Idea
5 Frame Stacking and Hot Cognitions
6 Eradicating Neediness
7 Case Study: The Airport Deal
8 Get in the Game
What are good quotes from Pitch Anything?
"When you are reacting to the other person, that person owns the frame. When the other person is reacting to what you do and say, you own the frame."
"There are limits to the human attention span, which is why a pitch must be brief, concise, and interesting
"Money is never a prize; it’s a commodity, a means for getting things done. Money simply transfers economic value from place to place so that people are able to work together."
― Oren Klaff, Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
What is the STRONG method of pitching?
Pitch Anything introduces the STRONG method of pitching, which can be put to use immediately:
1. Setting the Frame
2. Telling the Story
3. Revealing the Intrigue
4. Offering the Prize
5. Nailing the Hookpoint
6. Getting a Decision
What do critics say?
Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: “Pitch Anything opened my eyes to what I had been missing in my presentations and business interactions.” — LOUIE UCCIFERRI, President, Regent Capital Group
* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.