Get All Access for $5/mo

3 Tips to Follow When Pitching to Investors Investors want to invest in people, and people come to life through stories.

By Gabriel Ciordas Edited by Matt Scanlon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Do you know the secret of a great joke?


Naturally, this particular one-liner works better in verbal form than written, but even if it's less funny here, that does not make it less true. Timing is vital. It shows you are reading the room — that you understand the inferences and implications of a discourse. It also shows that you know how to tell a story, which is one of the oldest and most crucial skills a human being can have. This ability goes far beyond communicating anecdotes; it's how we share ideas and values… how we convey who we are.

And this is as true for businesses as it is for individuals. Storytelling is how a business communicates its purpose, both externally and internally. Its success is decided by the story it tells as much as by the product it sells. Entrepreneurs and founders must be masters of telling theirs, especially when they are in the process of securing funding. Here are key strategies to embrace when pitching to investors.

1. Know your numbers, but breathe your story

Any entrepreneur worth their salt will know important company figures and stats like the back of their hand, including growth targets, projections and capital requirements. But these are simply table stakes: such knowledge won't distinguish you from the rest.

Investors don't just buy numbers. They invest in people, and people come to life through narratives. The best storytelling will weave a business into the wider fabric of society — illustrating how it fits in and can shape the world of tomorrow. They key is to illustrate that this is not a ride they want to miss out on. In a sense, you have to generate FOMO.

If your company has been in business a while, an investor might ask why it has taken so long to grow. This type of difficult question is also better answered with a story than a number. You can explore the challenges of the past and demonstrate why they make you ready for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Related: This Is the No. 1 Mistake You Can Make When Pitching Investors

2. Use your deck wisely

A presentation is a common ally for those selling their stories to investors, but the deck should be a companion, not a crutch.

Keep your insights simple and digestible. The presentation is the spine of the book, but you are its pages. Ensure that your deck explicitly speaks to three key elements:

• Product vision: The first objective is to outline the purpose of your product — the long-term challenge you're solving and how that product will do it.

• Market context: A good deck will clearly explore the opportunity in a market, using strong data and financial projections to present growth potential.

• The people behind it: People buy people before they buy products. As much as you may be the face as the founder, it's important to show others within the business who are going to make it all happen. Make the company human.

Related: The 5 Slides You Must Have In Your Pitch Deck

3. Be the most positive person in the room

Realism and optimism are not opposites. Successful founders acknowledge the challenges of launching a business, but do not let them diminish their excitement. So, when pitching and presenting, be the most optimistic person at the meeting. Enthusiasm is infectious, and it can spread throughout a pitch, a deck and a room. Make sure optimism is part of the story you are telling. The investor likely hears hundreds of pitches, and if you aren't excited then you will fall at the first hurdle. And if the nerves begin jangling, remind yourself that you are hugely lucky: you own a business and have an idea. The people in front of you are appealing for the chance to have a slice of it.

Whether telling jokes or pitching investors, entrepreneurs should never underestimate the art of storytelling. More than product/market fit or the financial projections of a business, the story you tell — both about yourself as a founder and your business as a whole — is what will distinguish you in the mind of investors.

Related: 8 Tips That Will Help Your Storytelling Deliver

Gabriel Ciordas

CEO of Creatopy

Gabriel Ciordas is a Romanian entrepreneur, passionate about building innovative companies, and the founder and CEO of Creatopy, formerly known as Bannersnack. What establishing and running thriving tech projects has taught him is that success is found where hard work meets passionate people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Starting a Business

I Left the Corporate World to Start a Chicken Coop Business — Here Are 3 Valuable Lessons I Learned Along the Way

Board meetings were traded for barnyards as a thriving new venture hatched.

Business News

'Passing By Wide Margins': Elon Musk Celebrates His 'Guaranteed Win' of the Highest Pay Package in U.S. Corporate History

Musk's Tesla pay package is almost 140 times higher than the annual pay of other high-performing CEOs.

Business News

Joey Chestnut Is Going From Nathan's to Netflix for a Competition 15 Years in the Making

Chestnut was banned from this year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest due to a "rival" contract. Now, he'll compete in a Netflix special instead.


Are Your Business's Local Listings Accurate and Up-to-Date? Here Are the Consequences You Could Face If Not.

Why accurate local listings are crucial for business success — and how to avoid the pitfalls of outdated information.

Money & Finance

Day Traders Often Ignore This One Topic At Their Peril

Boring things — like taxes — can sometimes be highly profitable.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.