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Words and Actions

Dec 11, 2020

In the second part of our mini-series on the language of entrepreneurship, we enter the dragon’s den, meet an angel and look for gold among the crowds. Episode 15 is all about business pitches and how (not) to use language to find investors. We talk to an expert about how to pitch across cultures, get helpful advice from a venture capitalist and analyse a crowdfunding video.

For further details and a full transcript please visit our website at This episode was sponsored by BSEEN, a support programme for students and graduates who want to start their own business:

In the first part of the episode, we talk about the difference between written and spoken grammar, analysing parts of a Dragon’s Den pitch to show why it sounds so unnatural. Here is an excerpt: 

“We are here today today to introduce Ting-a-tang and ask for an investment of a 100,000 pounds for a 20% share in our business.  Looking for love is a big business in the UK.  By the year 2010 it is estimated that 45% of the UK’s adult population will be single. Today 75% of singletons are actively dating, spending a whopping £8 billion per year in their search for someone special. And so Ting-a-tang was born, to provide a unique and distinctive symbol for single people. Just as wearing a wedding ring showing that you are in a partnership, now you can wear a Ting-a-tang to reveal your single status.” 

In the first of two interviews, we speak to Dennis Davy, whose publications include

Daly, P., & Davy, D. (2016a). Crafting the investor pitch using insights from rhetoric and linguistics. In Alessi, G., & Jacobs, G. (eds) The Ins and Outs of Business and Professional Discourse Research. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 182-203.

Daly, P., & Davy, D. (2016b). Structural, linguistic and rhetorical features of the entrepreneurial pitch. Journal of Management Development, 35(1), 120-132. .

Davy, D., & Daly, P. (2020). French entrepreneurial pitches in English: Analysis of linguistic errors and perceptions of error gravity. In González-Araujo, V., Álavarez-Delgado, R-C., & Sancho-Rodríguez, A. (eds) Ethics in Business Communication: New challenges in the digital world. Brussels: Peter Lang, pp. 33–48.

At the end of the interview, Dennis mentions research into Dragon's Den versions in languages other than English. Here are two examples about the Spanish version:

Fernández-Vázquez, J. S., & Álvarez-Delgado, R. C. (2019). The interaction between rational arguments and emotional appeals in the entrepreneurial pitch. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 26(3), 503-520. 

García-Gómez, A. (2018). Dragons’ Den: Enacting persuasion in reality television. Discourse, Context & Media, 21, 1-9.

Our second interview guest, Alex Toft, is Head of Minerva Business Angels. Information for both entrepreneurs and investors is available at .

In the final part of the episode, we analyse a video for a crowdfunding campaign. The videos is available here: 

Erika’s work on the text type of crowdfunding is from her most recent volume. At the time of publishing this post (15/12/2020) it is in press but if you would like a copy, do email her.

Parhankangas, A. and Darics, E. (in press) Linguistic style and crowdfunding success among social and commercial entrepreneurs: An example of a language study in the field of entrepreneurship. In E. Darics (ed.) Language awareness in business and the professions. Cambridge University Press

In the final episode on language and entrepreneurship, we will look at creativity in selling ideas, services and products - see you then!