When big corporates try to pitch a new business idea they can find themselves stuck in a mirror palace. Rather than pitching the idea fresh with a simple and clear angle, the try to describe the initiative by comparing and contrasting it against familiar frameworks. The result is a diluted story that sounds a lot like other big corporate presentations.

Examples of mirrors in the mirror palace:

  • Mission, vision, customer comes first, care for the environment stuff. It is all important but trying to squeeze that into your product pitch dilutes things a little
  • Traditional ways of segmenting the market and your competitors. Big technology research firms define labels for market segments, provide market sizing data for these segments. You have a problem when your product does not completely fit. Do not force fit it, but rather create your own version of the market view in your presentation and add a chart in the back that tries to show how things are related to the traditional view
  • Overloading the benefits. Adding feature after feature, benefit after benefit. There a particular risk when many people work on a presentation (often remotely) and provide input such as "add 'great ROI' somewhere on page 39",  Too many benefits = no benefits
  • Engineering approach to describing the world: everything is an architecture diagram. Great for planning and carving up software development work, not always the best framework to pitch your product.
  • Over-structuring and over-story-telling. When you re-hash and re-hash the story over and over again with many people you end up with a business school essay. A logical but boring description of the market, the opportunity, and the solution. But you might spend too much time on providing market background, and taking out some of that raw edge of your story.

One way to unstuck yourself is to get the most charismatic sales person to run the pitch verbally without slides, and without interruption, record, and craft a slide deck that can support that spontaneous story.


Art: Paulus Moreelse, Girl at a mirror, (1632)