July 8, 2011 · Tips & Insights

Getting Your Point Across in 2 Short Paragraphs


Writing tablet

Are you familiar with the acronym TLDR? If not, you should be. TLDR is internet poison. It stands for, "too long, didn't read." You don't want anything you produce to fall into this category.

It's difficult, with all the information we're bombarded with online, to stand out in just 3 seconds, but that's about the amount of time you have to get your point across. And if you don't have a pitch video attached to your campaign, all that attention-getting has to happen through writing.

So the first paragraph of your written pitch is not the place to dwell on excessive back story. Instead you need to draw your audience in by explaining exactly who you are, what your campaign is all about, and, most importantly, why it matters to them. Right away.

Sounds like a tall order, right? Not if you master this simple fill-in-the-blanks template.

Hi. We're [name of your group or organization]. We are [describe who you are, how many of there you are, and what your backgrounds are, briefly] from [your location]. We [describe the mission of your organization or the bulk of your work]. Our next project is [describe your next plan of action — what you're raising funds on IndieGoGo for].  But we need your help.

We need to raise [amount of money] to cover the cost of [what funds raised will cover] or [consequences of not doing the work]. So we're turning to our strongest supporters to ask for contributions. In exchange, we're offering [name some of your best perks]. Your contribution will help us [reiterate what the funds raised will go toward], and further, it will help [give us the big picture]. Thanks!

At this point it's fine to give interested parties more background in your written pitch. Create a section called "Backstory" or write individual bios of your group's leaders or the people whose lives your group has touched.

But let's get back to the two-paragraph template and check out a hypothetical written example.

Hi. We're the Mega-Pegasus Theater Company. We're a group of 20- and 30-something actors from Detroit, Michigan. We have done three wildly successful one-act plays in church basements throughout the city and we're looking for a permanent home to produce our plays based on the works of unpublished contemporary Detroit writers. Our next project is 'Journey Home,' a two-man, one-act play written by a 57-year-old unemployed autoworker who wrote this work in a 2006 community college class. It's a great piece of theater, but we need your help to get it up.

We need to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of rehearsal and performance space for our proposed 6-week run or this fantastic work, never before read or performed publicly, may never see the light of day. So we're turning to our strongest supporters to ask for contributions. In exchange, we're offering tickets to our opening night performance and a program signed by all the players and the writer. Your contribution will help us continue the work of highlighting the stories of unpublished Detroit writers, and further, it will help support the creative arts and working artists and writers here in Detroit. Thanks!

Putting all this information in the first two paragraphs is important for two big reasons. One, you're grabbing people's attention and giving them a reason to care upfront, before they have a chance to click away. And two, you're constructing your story in a way that makes it easy for anyone to digest, understand, and share — and that includes people like bloggers and journalists trolling the web looking for stories like yours to blast to thousands of potential contributors. But only if they can easily, and quickly, digest what it is you're doing. 

So take a look at your written pitch and, whether you follow this template to the letter or not (and we definitely suggest putting your OWN spin on it!), make sure that the bulk of the information your audience needs is presented upfront without too much background information clutter.

Got a good pitch you want to share with us? Leave a link to your IndieGoGo pitch in the comments!

Image courtesy Flickr user Markus Rodder.