THE 5-STEP FOUNDATION OF THE MODERN PITCH: MONROE’S MOTIVATED SEQUENCE
Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is a persuasive communication structure that was developed by Alan Monroe, an American psychologist, author, and pioneer in the discipline of communication, in the 1930s.
It consists of 5 steps, which closely resemble the structure of what we now call a Pitch.
The steps are:
1. The Attention Step: Also known as “the hook”, this is the equivalent to the introduction of a pitch. You can open with a rhetorical question, a quote from someone famous or respected, a story (preferably true), or a startling statistic. The hook gives your audience a reason to listen to the rest of what you have to say.
2. The Need Step: In this step, you clearly show the problem you are speaking about exists in the lives of your audience and/or people they know. To get this step right, you need to know as much as possible about your audience. State the problem in negative terms and use credible evidence to demonstrate that the problem is real. Tap into the audience’s imagination to paint a picture of the problem. Speakers frequently skimp on this step, because they mistakenly believe the audience members already see the problem as they do. Don’t make this mistake! Your audience is likely much less aware of the problem than you are.
3. The Satisfaction Step: Now that you’ve established that the problem exists, you provide a reasonable solution to the problem, one that is accessible to your audience. Remember, the whole point of your presentation is to get your audience to take action. If your solution is too difficult or time consuming, it is less likely that your audience will take action. The simpler the solution you propose, the more likely your audience will do it.
In this step, you also need to address any objections your audience might have to what you are proposing. You should anticipate these objections and address them head-on. For instance, if you are trying to persuade your audience to wear seat belts, one objection might be they don’t feel they need to belt-up if they aren’t going very far. A way to address this objection is to provide statistics on traffic fatalities that occur close to home. You can also use testimonials to support your evidence. In this step, you are appealing to reason and logic by using statistics and numbers.
4. The Visualization Step: This is possibly the most important step. In this step, you paint a vivid picture of what will happen if your audience takes the action you are proposing and what will happen if they don’t. How great will the world be if they enact the solution you have proposed? How terrible will it be if they don’t? Use imagery to appeal to their emotions. To be effective, the images you evoke need to be believable and something your audience can relate to
5. The Action Step: Also referred to as the Call to Action (CTA), this is your conclusion. You signal the end of your pitch by succinctly recapping the need (problem), the satisfaction (solution), and the visualization. You then explicitly ask them (“My ask today is…”) to take a specific action. Do not assume they will know what to do because of what you have shared with them. Be clear! The easier the action is to take, the more likely it is they will do it.
These steps can be used as a guide to sell pretty much anything, an idea, a project, your business, yourself. Give it a try the next time you need to persuade people to do something.