In the world of film & television there is an art form described as pitching; pitching is what you do when you try to “sell” the story you have on offer to interested parties. I think the rules for pitching transcend the film industry and go right across many specters of life. That drunk guy at a party who is prattling on endlessly about his last failed relationship… he could do with a lesson in pitching.
Firstly, the main point of a pitch is not to summarize your whole story but to hook the listener… you’ve got to make them want to know more; it’s the best or most interesting hooks in your story that make your audience want to hear or read more.
Secondly, pitching (story telling) is a two way conversation; even though the other person may not be speaking if you are listening with your eyes you can tell when you are getting nibbles; what parts they are liking, what parts make them stretch and yawn.
Thirdly, duration is important, I try to get my screenplays down to a nine sentence pitch; the truth is if you can’t get your listeners attention in the first three then you need a better hook.
Fourthly, pitching is all about practice so tell as many people as possible; tell the guy at the bus stop, the pizza delivery girl, the plumber, your cab driver, tell everybody; not only will your pitching improve out of sight but it will help you know your audience and refine your story.