The other day I met one of the "pitchers" who has been selected to appear on the new CBC show Dragon's Den (click here for my previous post). He will have just 5 minutes or so to explain his business idea (on camera) and try to convince the panel of 5 "dragons" (flinty-eyed entrepreneurs who've seen it all) that they should invest in it.
The pitching gets underway in a week or so; the show launches Oct. 4 (lots of time for editing out the boring bits).
The pitcher was taking all this very seriously. His first point, he said, would be to tell the Dragons that 5 minutes was nowhere near enough time to discuss a business idea with the complexity and potential of his concept. So he would really only be able to give a slice of it, and he would hope to talk to them about it afterwards...
I had to stop him in my tracks. "Are you treating this as a standard investment opportunity?" I asked. "Or are you treating this as television?"
He seemed unsure of the difference. "If you play to the panel as if this were a normal venture discussion, you'll be so boring you'll be cut out of the show," I said. "If you treat this as TV entertainment, with its main goal of maximizing ratings, then you take their 5 minutes and make it the most entertaining 5 minutes you can."
(He seemed stunned that the CBC would be in this for the ratings, but I had to explain that if the ratings are low, the show will sink after 5 episodes and ever be seen again.)
My suggestion was that he go for the simplest, most comprehensible, most viewer-friendly pitch he could muster. That way, even if he fails to interest any of the Dragons in investing, he will have the chance to use that pitch over and over again by showing the tape to future potential investors.
Promising to overhaul his whole pitch, the pitcher thanked me for the advice.
"Elementary McLuhan," I thought to myself.
Every one in a while, my degree in Communication Studies still comes in handy.
For more on these Dragons see http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/