What is an elevator pitch

Not to be confused with baseball jargon, an elevator pitch is a succinct and persuasive conversation to raise awareness of your brand and/or product. It is normally a maximum of 30-45 seconds (the time it takes for a short elevator ride) that would come up in a casual conversation or when talking to busy investors that don’t have much time. If you’re at a social event, your cue to launch into your elevator pitch is this question: “so what do you do for a living?”

Whether you are actually in an elevator with Lord Sugar or at an entrepreneur networking event, you’re going to have to be able to throw the perfect pitch in order to secure investment, interest and future talent.

How to Throw One

The Effect + The Differentiator + The Request

You’re now aware that your elevator pitch is essentially your “verbal business card” (wise words of Juana Hart, founder of J-Hart Communications), but how do you craft the perfect pitch?

Know your audience

Like anything you do, you’ve got to know your audience. You should know who you’re targeting (both consumer and investor), but sometimes it isn’t that simple. At a conference, you may be chatting to someone interesting that might not quite fit your target demographic, so you have to gauge that person before you launch your 30-45 second pitch; potentially adapting some of your vocabulary or angling your unique selling point (USP) to interest them.

Language

The language you use is of paramount importance. I don’t mean national languages, I mean vocabulary and tone. You want to whip up excitement whilst keeping a controlled level of authenticity and credibility. As your elevator pitch will most likely happen whilst you are chatting, use plain English and a conversational tone.

Avoid words such as “revolutionary”. You probably aren’t and you might blow your startup out of proportion. You’re just the right person with the right idea. Be honest and don’t alienate people with outrageous claims.

First line is the most important

The human attention span is about 8 seconds. That’s a short amount of time to grab their attention so your pitch’s success relies heavily on your opening sentence. If you waffle, they’re going to switch-off and lose interest. Start with something relevant to the person you’re talking to.

What you do

You aren’t there to sell your product or service, you’re there to open a potential relationship and dialogue. Talk about what you do and how it impacts people. If you have a stat handy, throw it in. People don’t particularly care how awesome your product or service is, but they do care how it effects them.

Repeat and prioritise

Due to our general tendency to switch-off after a while, it is a good idea to repeat your main points at the end of your pitch. It puts emphasis on and refreshes the main features.

Differentiate

Your main point will have to be what makes you different from your competitors. Drive home what you think is your unique selling point and what differentiates you. If you have worked with big brands to back-up your credibility then don’t be afraid to name drop!

Chat

As I’ve said before, you’re having a conversation. Leave room for them to talk too because people generally don’t like being talked at.

Also, be aware of your body language and eye contact. If you pitch and stare at the floor you aren’t going to seem confident or, even worse, uninterested in the other person.

The request

Your 30 seconds are almost up, so take action. Ask if you can see them again for a meeting or if you can grab a contact detail. Remember to have your business card at the ready.

 

Elevator pitches need a lot of practice. Practice with your friends, in front of the mirror or even with strangers. Remember to create a well structured pitch that is under 30-45 seconds and is, essentially, a dialogue.

Business Card. Check

Elevator Pitch. Check

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