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What's The Story?

Story of your life
January 1, 2000

Once upon a time . . . meanwhile, back at the castle . . . and they lived happily ever after. You might be surprised, but these innocuous, chock full o' memory words may be your most important childhood lesson when it comes to creating your company's financing pitch.

Telling a story isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when your company's financing is depending on it. That's why the bigwigs of Silicon Valley--including Intuit co-founder Scott Cook and Yahoo! CEO Tim Koogle--pay approximately $6,000 per day for Jerry Weissman's coaching sessions. On four nonconsecutive days, Weissman takes his clients through every aspect of pitching to investors--from structuring your story to cleaning up graphics to body language and voice. He explains how to make the most of tools like projectors and computers, and offers a final lesson on how to field questions.

"What's of critical importance in my approach to presentations is [this] specific sequence. You have to get the presenter's mind clear on the story before you touch the delivery skills," explains Weissman, founder of Santa Clara, California, coaching firm Power Presentations Ltd. "I provide a set of techniques and tools and skills, and coach people in the application of those skills. I try to serve not as a critic but as a builder and creator."

So before you start practicing your presentation in front of your dog or your mirror, you need to concentrate on setting the record straight. Here's Weissman's advice on crafting your story: