Understanding the five-act structure
Perhaps the most well-known and respected advocate of the five-act structure is William Shakespeare. So, let’s take his classic play Romeo & Juliet to showcase how it works.
Act 1 – Exposition
In the first act, the story is set up and the context of the world you are entering is provided. In Romeo & Juliet, we get a prologue, which introduces our two main characters, the reason why their love is forbidden, the hatred between their families and their tragic destiny.
Act 2 – Rising Action
During this part of the story, our main characters face obstacles and try to overcome them. Romeo meets and falls in love with Juliet, they pledge themselves to each other despite the feud between their families and marry in secret.
Act 3 – Climax
At this point in the narrative, we reach a turning point that changes everything for better or worse. After Tybalt Capulet kills Romeo’s best friend Mercutio, our hero slays him in revenge. Romeo is banished from Verona, and Juliet is left bereft.
Act 4 – Falling Action
The main part of the story is now over, so this action leads us towards the conclusion. The tension of the climax has evaporated, and the tone is steady. Faced with marrying Count Paris, Juliet conspires with Friar Tuck to take a sleeping potion that makes her appear dead.
Act 5 – Denouement
The story is resolved, loose ends are tied up, and the narrative is concluded. After discovering Romeo & Juliet both dead after their tragic double suicide, Friar Tuck shames their grieving families by telling them exactly what happened. The Montagues and the Capulets finally agree to end their grudge.
What does Romeo & Juliet have to do with my pitch?
Shakespeare’s famous tragedy isn’t the story you are telling (hopefully), but given how universally well-known it is, it’s a valuable way to show the 5-act structure in action. So, now let’s dial down the drama and apply it to a business pitch. The critical thing to remember is that by nailing a structure that moves the audience through these stages, you’re aiming to get them hooked in and compelled by your story.
At Robot Mascot, we’ve adapted the traditional Shakespearean 5 acts and made a pitch version for you to follow. In our previous blog about the importance of pitch structure, we explained why it’s the third of the Six Principles of the Perfect Pitch. Now we’re making it easy for you to organise your content into those different sections to ensure you provide the right framework to create a compelling pitch.
Robot Mascot’s Five-act Pitch Structure
1. The Hook
What is the most powerful and emotive angle you can use to explain your business idea? What change could it bring in the world? Who can it help? Why is it innovative and exciting? Give us the headlines.
The investor is your audience, give them a reason to be excited and draw them in. Deliver something that grabs their attention, makes them want to learn more and communicates your big vision.
2. The Essence
Turn the spotlight on the business itself. Give investors a bird’s eye view of what you do, why you do it and how it works. Help them to understand your motivations, the way the company operates and the driving forces behind it.
This act helps you set the scene for investors, pre-empt some of the questions they have, and demonstrate how your company makes a big vision a tangible reality.
3. The Evidence
Having done the setup, you now deliver the knock-out punch. All the hard work you’ve done to prove market demand, product or service fit and consumer research must be deployed here.
Every critical bit of evidence that would silence a concern must be present and correct here. It’s the moment of high drama in your pitch, the pivotal piece that can change everything – much like the traditional 5-act structure ‘climax’ moment.
4. The Plan
Now you get to show investors exactly how you intend to make this business a success. You’ll take all the intel from your financial projections and business plan to demonstrate how you plan to grow the business, the potential financial risks, and opportunities to capitalise on.
Remember, your financial projections are vital in nailing this part of the pitch. We explored ‘The Three Fundamentals Investors Demand From Your Figures’ before, so refresh your memory and make sure you’ve covered everything off.
5. The Ask
Your pitch must conclude with an ask. You need to give investors a call to action. You’ve presented your story and shown them why it’s a great opportunity. Now you want them to do something about it.
There are a few ways you can approach ‘The Ask’. You might be very direct and tell them the exact figures of the investment you are seeking. Or, you can invite them to get in touch to discuss the opportunity further. The choice is yours.
A Powerful Investment Pitch Deck
Used correctly, a five-act structure will create a powerful investment pitch deck. It will help you to focus on the most compelling parts of your business plan and financial projections, presenting investors with an opportunity not to be missed.
Having put time and effort into creating your critical fundraising assets, you’ll have everything you need to craft the content for each act in your structure.
We’ll be exploring content creation in our next blog, but if you’d like to learn more right now, please feel free to download a free copy of Robot Mascot COO James Church’s book Investable Entrepreneur.