I’ve been watching a lot of business pitches lately–several dozen in the past three weeks, actually–in my role as angel investor and venture competition judge.

Pitches can be tough, but they are also vital. Your audience is judging your dominance of your own business by how well you come off. They don’t mean to, but they can’t help it.

You don’t want to memorize, because you come off stilted. You do want to know your stuff thoroughly, from all angles, so you can immediately answer any question and so that, as you tick off the main points, you seem confident and knowledgeable. Make sure you cover the key points–which, if you’re talking to investors about a new business, should include market size, your secret sauce, the management team, and how much money the investors can make and how long they might have to wait for it.

And I like thinking in terms of stories. Tell your story. More important, tell your target market’s story. Why do people buy from your company? How do they find you? What problem are you solving?

For example, the best pitches give a customer a name, and talk about how he or she or it (if it’s a business) had a problem that your business solved. Make it a story. Flesh it out. Make it seem real.

I’m grateful to Garr Reynolds for posting this five-minute video with Ira Glass, master storyteller, from YouTube.  This is great background for anybody involved in a business pitch.  And on his blog, Presentation Zen, Garr adds some additional advice in a post called Ira Glass: Tips on Storytelling.

You should be able to click the clip here to see the video, but, just in case you can’t, you can click here for the source video in YouTube.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.