Are you an ambitious founder, manager or executive? This surprising sin of communication will help you raise a lot more capital and/or be viewed favorably as a leader, according to recently published research by a renowned professor at an Ivy League university.
Any other time, committing the sin is bad. Use it in your pitch deck or in interviews for senior roles, though, and it is magical pixie dust!
Venture capitalists, boards, and hiring committees are unaware that they have a positive bias toward it--and would be the first to deny--but the data is irrefutable.
It helps women disproportionately and is one of the reasons Uber raised a huge venture financing round.
(Hint: It is NOT projecting false bravado. It is much more specific, relatively easy to do and even fun!)
Not doing it may forever doom you to the minor leagues—with the unwashed masses of could-have-beens.
Here it is:
The surprising sin is using abstract vs. concrete language. For Uber it was “a transportation solution that is convenient, reliable and readily accessible to everyone” vs. “a ride hailing app”.
Or “transforming lives through coding literacy” vs. “a coding bootcamp”. This company helped smart but economically useless liberal arts majors find meaningful employment and was recently acquired for $50 million.
Pitches that use abstract language makes investors think the company has more potential to grow and scale.
Using abstract language also makes one be viewed more favorably as a leader and visionary.
Most other times, especially when talking to customers, it is better to use concrete language. It increases understanding and boosts memorability.
Women use concrete language most of the time and so fail to excite investors.
From the new book Magic Words by Prof. Jonah Berger (Wharton School, Upenn)