Aristotle and the Best Pitch Deck Ever

Orson Welles records H.G. Wells  War of the Worlds  at CBS. A small town would never the same again.

Orson Welles records H.G. Wells War of the Worlds at CBS. A small town would never the same again.

At Unicorn Business Plans & Pitch Decks, we often help our clients to pull off the business plan pitch deck double. It makes a lot of sense. A beautiful pitch deck is a crystalized version of the business plan that gets you in the door. Once you’ve got an investor's attention with a great business plan, the investor wants to see you in the flesh, to see what you’re like on stage. That’s right - you’re working in the theater now! Of course, you need a beautiful pitch deck - that goes without saying. But like everything in this world, good looks only get you so far. Your best pitch deck ever needs to tell a great story. To help you do that, we’d like to introduce you to a friend of ours. His name is Aristotle, and he passed away 2300 years ago.

We can make you a beautiful pitch deck, so can lots of other people. The trick to making you the best pitch deck ever is pretty old. About 2300 years old in fact. That’s when the 'hypothesis of everything' philosopher Aristotle turned his attention from the stars in the sky to the stars on the stage. Drama has an incredibly powerful effect on people’s emotions, and Aristotle wanted to figure out why. Why does a story make us laugh, or cry? His examination into the DNA of story is called Poetics. Its central tenets have become the basis of the most effective stories you've ever encountered. We’re talking news, comedy, television, film, social media updates and your relative’s annual thanksgiving anecdote. It’s so innate in us that every single human on the face of the earth is an expert in story. They may not be able to DO it, but they can always FEEL it. When a story is not working for you, it’s not your problem. It’s because it’s not an effective story. Most importantly for you - this story form is the beating heart of your best pitch deck ever. It goes like this.


Thesis: Antithesis: Synthesis


We’ll break it down, but the easiest way to demonstrate it is that it’s the basis of every news story you’ve ever seen.

THESIS: An ordinary [day, place, person]

ANTITHESIS: Then something completely EXTRAORDINARY happens

SYNTHESIS: Now that [person, day, place] will never be the same again.

It’s what makes the news news. When someone asks ‘What happened?’ ‘What’s the story?’ This is what they want to hear. This is what will lend your pitch deck its immediacy.


Whether you’re writing a business plan, pitch deck or executive summary, you need to begin by giving your investor a sense of the status quo, before your business comes to town. The best pitch deck ever will frame this status quo as a problem. One of Unicorn’s clients frames it pretty simply: big businesses don’t know what their customers are going to buy next. This makes it hard to know what to stock.


This is the bit that makes a beautiful pitch deck beautiful. Your business takes the world as we know it, and flips it on its head. We’re in opposite world now. In the news, or in most stories, this is an uncomfortable crisis. It was a sleepy town, until it was woken by sound of a spacecraft landing… or similar.  In business, the antithesis you’re looking for is going to make everyone’s status quo a whole lot better. In our client’s example, they have a proprietary digital platform that crunches quantitative data and qualitative psychometric insights to predict what customers are going to buy next with astonishing accuracy. It’s amazing. Your beautiful pitch deck is going to take the investor from problem world to ‘beautiful solution world’ in a single click.


Now that the aliens have landed, this sleepy town will never be the same again. This literarilly  happened to a town called Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.

“A huge flaming object has just crashed on a farm outside Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.”

It was Orson Welles delivering his famous War of the Worlds. It sparked a mass hysteria. Orson picked Grover’s Mill because it was the most boring town he could think of. And it was. But it's never been the same since Orson turned it on it's head. Now it has monuments and visitors to the site of this cultural milestone. Real or not real, the power of story has changed Grover’s Mill forever. In a beautiful pitch deck, your business plan is to change the world for the better, perhaps in a tiny little way. Our client has helped big business take the guess work out of their supply chain, while their customers are delighted by spot-on instore recommendations from cashiers and sales clerks about brands and products they might like to buy. 

So, when you work with Unicorn, we'll help you create the best pitch deck ever with the help of some 2300 year-old tricks. Thanks Aristotle.

We wish you your best pitch deck ever.

The Team at Unicorn Business Plans & Pitch Decks.