One of my favorite movies is Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece Psycho, an elegant story with gripping suspense and one of the best twist endings you still will ever see. It’s also one of the absolute worst inspirations for presenting ideas inside companies.
This thought crossed my mind (once again) as I listened to a pitch from a young entrepreneur. He was brimming with energy as the story slowly built through page after page of facts and figures and graphs and pictures and profiles of interesting companies around the globe that were attacking the market he planned to target. Then, the twist! The entrepreneur wasn’t going to do what everyone else was doing. No! He and his team were going to go in a different direction and try to disrupt the market.
Having the big reveal come late in the story works in the movie theater. It rarely works if you’re trying to pitch an idea to a venture capitalist or to senior executives where you work. These gatekeepers are bombarded by information, and in many cases have very short attention spans. You simply cannot leave them waiting and wondering about what you want to do and what you need.
One of the first pieces of advice I got when I began writing holds true: Tell them, with some degree of precision, what you are going to tell them — from the start.
Scott Anthony is the managing partner of Innosight.