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  • Toby Sinclair

Summary: Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

 

📚 Should You Read This?


👋 Hey - I'm Toby. This summary wasn't written by AI. I'm a real leader, managing teams in large organisations. I read to solve tough problems. I share book summaries weekly to help other leaders tackle scary challenges.

Toby's Rating: 8/10


"Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal" by Oren Klaff is a must-read for leaders looking to master the art of persuasion. The STRONG approach is grounded in neuroscience and behavioural psychology. It offers a fresh perspective on pitching that goes beyond traditional methods. If you often find yourself in high-stakes presentations or negotiations, this book provides invaluable techniques to command attention and drive decisions.


 

✅ Toby's Top Takeaway from Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff


You are pitching to a big company. You are scheduled to meet with a senior director. At the start of the meeting, you are told that unfortunately, the senior director has a clash. Instead, one of the other team members will take the meeting and relay the details.


What would you do?


By default, I’m a people pleaser. I would likely say, no worries. Thanks for offering to do that. I know many of you would do this too.


The result. We are destined to fail. To lose the pitch. Walk away empty-handed.


Why?


This approach puts you in a weakened influencing position. It shows you agree with your audience. This is not important. I’m not important.


The good news is that like you, I’m always working to overcome this people-pleasing tendency.


In Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff describes a different approach.


You’ve travelled to this meeting, prepared for it, and have an established goal. Are you willing to throw that away? No one can tell your story as well as you can. If you trust your presentation to subordinates and expect them to pass it on to the decision-maker with the same force and qualities of persuasion that you have, then you are not being honest with yourself. The decision maker must hear it from you. This is what Oren recommends you say:


“So you are asking me to delay the start? Okay. I can give you 15 minutes to get organized. But if we can’t start by then, then let’s just call it a day.”

It uses an influencing technique called Prizing. You are important. This is important. There is only one of you. You mean business.


When I first read the approach, the people pleaser within me was shocked. After learning more about this technique and the others in Pitch Anything, I'm itching to give it a go!



💡 3 Big Ideas from Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff



Big Idea 1 - The Power of Frames


These are mental structures that shape how we perceive the world. Klaff emphasises the importance of "frame control" in pitches—whoever controls the frame controls the conversation. By establishing a dominant frame, you set the rules and tone of the interaction, making it easier to guide your audience towards your desired outcome. This is crucial for leaders who need to assert authority and maintain control in meetings and presentations.


There are four frames:


  • Intrigue Frame: The Intrigue Frame is designed to capture and hold your audience's attention by leveraging curiosity and suspense. When you introduce elements of mystery and uncertainty into your pitch, you engage the listener’s primal brain, making them eager to find out more. The key is to present a narrative that keeps them guessing and wanting to know the outcome. By doing so, you prevent the audience from feeling that they fully understand your idea too quickly, which could lead to disinterest​​​​​​.

  • Prize Frame: The Prize Frame positions you and your offer as something valuable and desirable that the audience must earn the right to obtain. Instead of treating the audience as the prize, Klaff suggests flipping the dynamic so that they perceive you as the prize. This involves demonstrating your value and setting high standards for who you choose to work with. By doing this, you create a scenario where the audience feels compelled to prove their worth to you, enhancing your perceived value and control in the interaction​​​​​​.

  • Time Frame: The Time Frame introduces urgency and scarcity into your pitch, encouraging the audience to act quickly. By setting clear deadlines or indicating that opportunities are limited, you tap into the psychological principle of scarcity, which makes people more inclined to act to avoid missing out. This frame is effective in pushing the audience to make decisions promptly, ensuring that the momentum of your pitch is maintained and that the sense of urgency drives the conversation forward​​​​​​.

  • Moral Authority Frame: The Moral Authority Frame leverages ethical values and societal standards to establish credibility and trust. By aligning your pitch with higher moral standards or a greater good, you can evoke strong emotional responses and foster trust. This frame is particularly powerful when you can show that your proposal not only benefits the audience but also aligns with broader ethical or community values. It demonstrates that you are not just about business but also about making a positive impact, which can be a compelling factor for decision-makers​


Big Idea 2 - Engage the Crocodile Brain


When you pitch, it’s common to assume the audience is listening “logically”. They are not. When pitching, you are speaking to the “Croc Brain”. The irrational, emotional part of the brain. The croc brain of the person sitting across from you isn’t “listening” and thinking, “Hmmm, is this a good deal or not?” Its reaction to your pitch basically goes like this: “Since this is not an emergency, how can I ignore this or spend the least amount of time possible on it?” This filtering system of the crocodile brain has a very short-sighted view of the world. Anything that is not a crisis it tries to mark as “spam.”


If you got a chance to look at the croc brain’s filtering instructions, it would look something like this:

  1. If it’s not dangerous, ignore it.

  2. If it’s not new and exciting, ignore it.

  3. If it is new, summarize it as quickly as possible—and forget about the details. And finally, there is this specific instruction:

  4. Do not send anything up to the neocortex for problem-solving unless you have a situation that is really unexpected and out of the ordinary.


These are the basic operating policies and procedures of our brains. No wonder pitching is so difficult.


Big Idea 3 - Status


Within seconds, we each need to decide, for the sake of our own self-preservation, who in this room is the dominant alpha? And if it turns out that someone else is the dominant alpha and we are the beta, there is a second, even more valuable question: In the short amount of time we have to orient ourselves in this social interaction, can we switch out of the beta position and take the alpha?


If you are pitching from a lower-level platform or low social status, your ability to persuade others will be diminished, and your pitch will be difficult, no matter how great your idea or product. However, if you hold high social status, even on a temporary basis, your power to convince others will be strong, and your pitch will go easily.


The French Waiter French waiters are respected throughout the world for their skill in controlling social dynamics. From the moment you enter their world, they set the frame and control the timing and sequence events according to their wishes. They wipe your status instantly, redistribute it as they choose, and control the frame throughout the exchange. You regain control only after the check has been paid, the tip has been left, and you’re ushered out the front door.


It doesn’t matter how well you argue, the way your points are crafted, or how elegant your flow and logic. If you do not have high status, you will not command the attention necessary to make your pitch heard. You will not persuade, and you will not easily get a deal done.

 

💬 Best Quotes from Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff


Pitch Anything Big Idea

“The croc brain of the person sitting across from you isn’t ‘listening’ and thinking, ‘Hmmm, is this a good deal or not?’ Its reaction to your pitch basically goes like this: ‘Since this is not an emergency, how can I ignore this or spend the least amount of time possible on it?’”
“Bypassing those fear alarm sensors can be extremely difficult. Creating novelty in the message can be tricky, too. But it is the only way our pitch stands any chance whatsoever because the crocodile brain wants information a certain way—simple, clear, nonthreatening, and above all, intriguing and novel.”
“If you have to explain your authority, power, position, leverage, and advantage, you do not hold the stronger frame.”
“Prizing subconsciously says to your audience, ‘You are trying to win my attention. I am the prize, not you. I can find a thousand buyers like you. There is only one me.’”
“To hold your target’s attention, there must be tension—a form of low-level conflict—guiding the interaction. If there’s no conflict, the target may be politely ‘listening,’ but there’s no real connection.”



💡 More Ideas from Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff


The STRONG Method: Oren Klaff introduces the STRONG method as a framework for effective pitching:

  • Setting the Frame: Establish context and control.

  • Telling the Story: Use narratives to connect emotionally.

  • Revealing the Intrigue: Maintain curiosity and interest.

  • Offering the Prize: Position your pitch as a valuable opportunity.

  • Nailing the Hookpoint: Drive the audience towards a decision.

  • Getting a Decision: Push for a clear outcome, be it a yes, no, or follow-up meeting



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