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Structural, linguistic and rhetorical features of the entrepreneurial pitch: Lessons from Dragons’ Den

Peter Daly (Business Communication and Language Studies, EDHEC Business School, Roubaix, France)
Dennis Davy (Business Communication and Language Studies, EDHEC Business School, Roubaix, France)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 8 February 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

As mastering the two-minute entrepreneurial pitch is a key skill required of entrepreneurs and all those who have to sell an idea in a business context, the purpose of this paper is to analyse successful entrepreneurial pitches in order to provide practical pitch-related advice to entrepreneurs and to business school instructors developing pedagogical materials.

Design/methodology/approach

As mastering the two-minute entrepreneurial pitch is a key skill required of entrepreneurs and all those who have to sell an idea in a business context, this paper aims to analyse successful entrepreneurial pitches in order to provide practical pitch-related advice to entrepreneurs and to business school instructors developing pedagogical materials.

Findings

A ten-stage discourse framework was shown to underlie most pitches and typical linguistic exponents and rhetorical devices were identified. While there was a strong correlation between linguistic exponents and particular organisational stages, it was not possible to map the rhetorical strategies or tropes onto the organisational stages. The rhetorical framework provides a macro-structure to help entrepreneurs manipulate key content, whereas the linguistic framework highlights the salient grammatical, organisational, syntactic and lexical features of a successful pitch.

Research limitation

The sample of entrepreneurial pitches analysed is too small to be totally representative of the entrepreneurial pitch in general. However, this in-depth multi-dimensional analysis provides initial research into the canonical features of the entrepreneurial pitch.

Practical implication

This study provides an actionable, best practice, discoursal template for the entrepreneurial pitch together with the typical linguistic exponents and rhetorical features. The findings should sensitise entrepreneurs and instructors to salient macro- and micro-features of the entrepreneurial pitch.

Originality value

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that has been carried out that takes a multi-dimensional analysis approach (both rhetorical and linguistic/discourse analysis) to deconstruct the entrepreneurial pitch.

Keywords

Citation

Daly, P. and Davy, D. (2016), "Structural, linguistic and rhetorical features of the entrepreneurial pitch: Lessons from Dragons’ Den", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 120-132. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-05-2014-0049

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited