Summary and book review of Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything”: This book, which focuses on pitch frame, negotiation and communication, will teach you how to have a clear grasp of your speech topic as well as the power struggle that is present in each social interaction.
By Oren Klaff, 2015, 261 pages
Note: This review is a guest review, offered by William from the CharismeDeveloppement blog
Book review and summary of “Pitch Anything”
Does knowing how to effectively pitch your ideas interest you? How about learning to understand the mechanisms of communication and being effective at speaking? If so, I think Oren Klaff’s book: Pitch Anything, is a must-read for your own self-improvement. That said, do you really know what a good pitch is?
To answer this, I could give you a theoretical definition, filled with adjectives, but I think an example will be more meaningful.
You are in charge of the HR department of the company for which you work. Your company’s headquarters will soon change location, and you need to make a costed proposal to the company director. This proposal is about the budget you need for the layout of your team’s new workspace. One morning, you arrive at the company at the same time as your boss, and you decide to make this proposal. Problem: he is on the way to his office and you only have 3 minutes to convince him to free up 10,000 €. It’s time to pitch your project!
Thanks to Oren Klaff’s work, “Pitch Anything”, you will learn how the human brain works, which parts make it up, and which parts to target to easily convince the person to whom you’re speaking.
You will then learn the different types of frames that exist in communication, how to take them down or take control of the power struggle with effective persuasion techniques.
CHAPTER 1: The Right Method to Follow for One’s Pitch
Do you know that your brain is made up of 3 different cortices that communicate with each other?
- Crocodile brain: responsible for processing information related to survival, flight, confrontation, sleep, hunger or fear and pleasure.
- Mid-brain: responsible for early learning, the processing of memory and emotions.
- Neocortex: the most developed of all, which deals with creativity, response to complex issues, intelligence, and innovation.
It’s not for nothing that the author, Oren Klaff, begins by talking about this historical evolution. When you are going to communicate with someone, the information you’re going to send to them is formed at the level of your neocortex. It’s complex, responds to a specific problem, and may involve statistics or studies. For you, it’s pretty simple to understand, and it’s mostly logical.
However, what you don’t know is that this same information will be received by your interlocutor’s crocodile brain.
Your crocodile brain has its own functioning:
- When something is boring: it ignores it
- If something looks dangerous: it flees or fights against it
- When something is complicated: it radically summarizes the thing (which leads to a loss of information) and sends it to the mid–brain
You must therefore ensure that your pitch is guided so that the crocodile brain of your interlocutor lets your message reach his/her neocortex.
For that to happen, don’t be perceived as a threat. This is particularly the case when a person keeps their hands behind their back, out of their interlocutor’s field of view. It’s a non-verbal behavior that can be interpreted as a danger.
Secondly, you must make sure that your pitch contains novelty. This is to arouse the curiosity of the opposing crocodile brain. If you offer something out of the ordinary in your pitch, you increase your chances of being understood.
CHAPTER 2: Understanding and Controlling the Pitch’s Frame
The frame is what allows you to take control of a conversation, or to be manipulated and influenced by your interlocutor during a conversation.
There are several frames that you can use to counter those of your interlocutor. You must also know that frames don’t merge, don’t mix but absorb each other. Only one of the frames will emerge victorious from this power struggle and will take control of the conversation. Thus, you will then be able to influence, negotiate or more easily obtain favorable responses to your requests. In short, you take control of the social interaction.
The power frame
To illustrate the first frame, the most widely used frame, take the example of an appointment you have with a recruiter. You arrive 5 minutes before your appointment; you are punctual. Finally, the recruiter comes to get you 10 minutes late, and you follow him to his office. You sit down, untuck your shirt, take out your documents and start the pitch.
Well, know that all these preliminary stages convey the soft power that the recruiter has on you. He shrewdly uses his power frame on you, and you yourself let him do it. To counter this type of frame, you can use a defiant attitude or a refusal to accept certain things. A person using the power frame draws their strength from their status or rituals. If you manage to break one of them, you will be able to regain control of the frame.
The prize frame
The principle of this frame is as follows: you have to make sure you turn the tables around and make your listener believe that he/she needs you, not the other way around. There are lots of other clients like them who need your services. However, there is only one person offering the products or services in question, and that’s you!
From the moment you make the audience understand that the crown jewel of pitch is you, you take control of the prize frame.
This technique can also be used by your interlocutor. For example, they could frame you with the following sentence. “There are many other people who have offered me this type of product in the past.” Make sure to show your authority and prevent the person from comparing you to other offers. So, either they will do business with you, or they will forever lose this unique offer that you have just made to them.
The time frame
The time frame is often used late in the social exchange, when a person has already taken over the frame. Therefore, it’s a frame that your interlocutor can use to disrupt the frame that you have established. If you can identify this type of strategy, it will be easy for you to counter it.
The first use of this frame that your interlocutor can put in place is that of annoyance. They will, for example, say to you “We’ve already been talking for 10 minutes, we’ll have to wrap up…“. This can also be non-verbal language: sighing, frowning, wondering eyes, etc.
If so, it may be your fault because your pitch was not concise and precise enough. Otherwise, don’t panic or talk faster trying to add additional information. Just tell them that you can make another appointment with them or use the self-ejection method of the conversation. This consists in you yourself saying that you have another appointment to get to. Normally, the person should accept your departure and make the effort to see you again. Therefore, it’s you who creates a sense of urgency by keeping control of the social interaction.
The second use of this frame can be done even before the pitch has begun. At that time, your interlocutor warns you “It will have to be done quickly, I only have 10 minutes for you, not a minute more“. The logical answer that would normally come to your mind is to say, “very well, I know how precious your time is, I’ll be quick “. But this is like saying “Okay, take control of the time frame, and manipulate me, please“.
In all seriousness, if you want to stay in control of the social interaction, respond rather: “Well, listen, I don’t want to make a sloppy presentation. I usually work with a mutual exchange of respect and trust with my partners. Therefore, I need to make sure that you are a good partner, and that you are able to keep an appointment and stick to a schedule“.
The intrigue frame
Most intelligent people have a lot of fun when confronted with something new, innovative and intriguing. It’s a form of entertainment for them to guess what you’re going to say. If you’re making a pitch and people have come to listen to you, it’s not to hear things they already know. Using the intrigue story to start a public speech is a great asset to keep you focused on your pitch. With an opener such as “I know you have a problem, and I have the solution… “, “I know something you don’t know..”.
To illustrate the power of the intrigue frame, Oren Klaff uses the example of Spielberg’s film, ‘Jaws’. What creates a lot of the tension in this film is the fact that we don’t know what the shark looks like and where it will strike. We are only told about a giant creature lurking beneath the surface, called the Great White. If the shark had been introduced to us from the beginning of the film and it was equipped with a GPS tracker, the suspense of the film would have been significantly less.
You should also know that the intrigue frame is the most effective way to destroy an analyst frame (which we will see right now).
The analyst frame
The engineers or staff in finance use The analyst frame often. It’s a frame that can virtually destroy your pitch when someone tries to put it in place. Detecting the establishment of an analyst frame is very simple: it is the moment when a person focuses on a technical detail and asks for some in-depth explanations. You know, that moment when someone asks you how you came up with the number or the statistics you have just presented.
At that time, either you are willing to get into a relational conflict with the person at the risk of losing 95% of the room because of very specific explanations, or you make sure to break the frame that the person tries to impose on you, with an intrigue frame or a time frame. I would personally opt for option 2 because it will allow you to keep in touch with the whole room and without losing face in a communication battle. If the person trying to get you into the analyst frame insists, tell them that you will respond to their question later, privately.
CHAPTER 3: Taking Care of Your Social Status
Status plays an important role in frame control. For example, it can allow you to establish a ritual on your interlocutor, in order to set up a power frame.
Regardless your language level, the logic of your demonstration or the elegance of your elocution, if your social status is not high enough, you will not gather enough attention for your pitch to be heard. Thus, you won’t be able to persuade your audience and it will become almost impossible to cut a deal.
The Alpha / Beta duality:
The person described as an alpha is the one who gets the most attention in a social interaction, even when they don’t ask for it. When they do ask for it, their words are immediately heard by everyone and will go unchallenged. It is a very powerful status, and generally, you will feel it. However, be beware, the public will also feel that you have this status, so you must act accordingly or risk losing your status, your credibility, and the trust of others, to ultimately fall lower than a beta.
Here are 3 traps to avoid remaining in the beta status:
- The trap of the waiting room: thousands of salespeople are victims of this situation. You arrive in the lobby of a company and a person at the front desk asks you to sign the visitors’ register. Then, you wait until the time of your appointment. Time goes by, you’re standing up playing with business cards, and you interlocutor comes in, 10 minutes late, saying, “Excuse me, I was in a meeting, I don’t have much time to grant you, follow me.” The negotiation can only go wrong with such conditions and such a terrible start…
- Conference rooms: to take a little time to prepare your equipment, you arrive a few minutes before everyone else. When the team arrives to watch your pitch, they laugh, talk to each other, but exclude you from the conversation. They are all gathered in a large room, much nicer than their small offices. All together with you, the attraction of the day, their little moment of entertainment. While you wait for everyone to get there, people continue talking, still excluding you…
- Meetings in public places: “You want to go for a coffee, you can present me your project at the same time “. If you accept this proposal thinking that it will create a relaxing atmosphere, you are mistaken. A coffee shop or a public space is not an ideal place to make a pitch. You may not want the people sitting next to you hear what you are going to say. Your interlocutor may not dare to mention certain figures or details about their company. There will also be the distraction factor, which will be much greater in a public place than in an office.
Elevating social status
The first thing to analyze is the meeting place. If it takes place on your territory, then set up certain rituals to show that you are at home. If your pitch happens in a place that your interlocutor controls, then make sure to take their power and redistribute it to them little by little. Show that you don’t necessarily respect the codes, without offending the person. In this kind of situation, it’s important to know how to assert oneself and to make oneself respected. This can be conveyed through simple things: taking an object present in the room and analyzing it. You can get up and look out the window as if you were using that office under normal circumstances.
Your social status is also shaped by other business you have done. If you have obtained good contracts, then you have to talk about it. This will automatically increase your credibility and the listener’s attention regarding your pitch.
Finally, to elevate your social status: be at ease! There is nothing more pleasant and appreciative than a person who loves their job, and the results that come with it. It’s a skill that inspiring leaders possess: the alphas.
CHAPTER 4: Pitching Your Big Idea
After spending quite some time talking about the frame and social interactions, Oren Klaff finally reveals a three-phase action plan to pitch your big idea. Klaff insisted so much on the preceding chapters because they represent what salespeople often forget. In most cases, you will polish your speech and repeat it hundreds of times. Everything that happens before is not predictable but nonetheless very important. Here is the plan to follow for your pitch:
Phase 1: Introduce yourself, then, talk about your idea
If the people don’t know you, it’s important to start by introducing yourself. In doing such, one will know if you are a person who is serious, determined, courageous, etc. After this short introduction, you will present your big idea.
Phase 2: Explain the budget and unveil the secret ingredient
Once people have identified your personality and understood your idea, you will talk money. Don’t spend too much time on the details of the numbers, at the risk of having an analyst frame imposed on you by a member of the audience. They must be clear enough to understand the overview and the total budget that the project will represent.
After this often-awkward moment of talking money, you will add to it by arousing the public’s curiosity thanks to your mystery ingredient. It’s about presenting something you have not yet disclosed that will surprise public expectations. Therefore, get the audience to view your product from a certain angle. During the revelation of the mystery ingredient, flip this viewing angle! You can memorize this technique by thinking of it like looking at a pyramid seen from below. From that angle, you see a square. Then, from other angles you can see triangles. Finally, you understand that it is a pyramid when it’s shown to you from the side. It’s only a question of point of view.
Phase 3: Offer your deal
Finally, in this last phase of your pitch, you will talk about the market, the competitors and your positioning. That’s when you can show a bubble graph with your market share and that of your competitors.
However, the market also means that you will have to talk about what you will bring to the people who support your project: a return on investment, a personal achievement, participation in an innovative project which can create wealth. Be brief but give details of quality. Make sure there is no question as to what the audience is going to get. Remember that the most important thing that your listeners will get with this deal is you!
CHAPTER 5: How to Pitch without Seeming in Need
When going into a negotiation with someone, it’s important not to be overwhelmed by your emotions or feelings.
Imagine now that this is the 8th proposition you have made to an investor to get the money needed to develop your start-up. It becomes difficult for you not to show that you’re on edge. You need this deal so much that you forget all the rules of a good pitch.
You’re panic-stricken. As such, you have trouble clearly articulating your proposal. Therefore, you completely overreact.
As a result, you lose the control of the frame and the control of yourself, because, you don’t know how to hide the fact that you are in need. So, even if that’s the case, and even if your future depends on your next pitch, persuade yourself that you will have a second chance.
CHAPTER 6 and 7: Case Study and Action
In the second-to-last chapter of Oren Klaff’s book “Pitch Anything”, he gives us in detail a pitch that he had the opportunity to make at the airport. From the preparation, through the analysis of the context and issues, to the very realization of his speech. You will see that he uses the concrete application of all the book’s methods.
Therefore, if you want to know more and discover this very complete case study, I invite you to purchase your book.
And finally, in the last part of his book, the author speaks directly to his reader. This is to make them understand how to take action. Social interplay and communication are not skills that one develops instinctively. Remember, the first cortex of your brain that processes information is the crocodile brain, and it reacts in the following way:
- When something is boring: it ignores it.
- If something looks dangerous: it flees or fights.
- When something is complicated: it radically summarizes the thing (which leads to a loss of information) and sends it to the mid-brain.
Therefore, it’s vital to continuously practice and learn to perfect your frame control and your interpersonal skills.
It is also at the very end of the book that Oren Klaff gives us the 3rd essential technique to handle a frame.
- The first is the structural method that depends solely on you, the structure of your speech and your attitude.
- The second is the procedural method, which consists of making sure that the other party does not take control of the frame. If so, use small acts of negation and try to challenge them.
- And the third method is to take control of the frame through humor. A touch of humor or a witty comeback will show your interlocutor that you are comfortable despite the tension and the stakes of your pitch. It will also allow you to back your interlocutor into a corner.
Book critique of “Pitch Anything”:
In the book “Pitch Anything” by Oren Klaff, you will be able to understand how to pitch effectively but you will especially understand the importance of social interplay. There will always be someone who dominates and someone who is dominated, or an alpha and a beta. It’s then up to you to choose which role you want to have, while knowing that the alpha will be better able to influence their interlocutor and succeed in persuading him/her.
You have also learned how to take care of your social status, and to not fall into the trap of social rituals, which put you in the position of a beta person. This is a book that I recommend you read. Especially if you are a salesperson or you need to master social interplay in your job.
Personally, this book by Oren Klaff has helped me a lot because I offer services to managers of small and medium-sized businesses. By understanding how to assert your social status and making your pitch better, you automatically get more deals done. Thus, you improve your turnover.
- Practical, detailed and illustrated explanations of the human brain’s composition.
- Analysis of each frame and many tips to effectively reverse them.
- 3-phase action plan describing how to pitch one’s big idea.
- Good use of the book’s theoretical principles through a final case study.
- Complex book containing many principles, so it’s necessary to read it many times.
- The book’s content could probably be reorganized in a more logical and clear manner to make for an easier read.
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