The Elevator Pitch
You bump into a former client on the streets. He asks you what you do now, and you open your mouth to answer him – but realize you’re at a loss. Where should you begin?
While you try to organize your thoughts and stammer a response, his ride comes and he bids you goodbye.
If only you had been more prepared, perhaps he might have stayed long enough to ask for your contact and eventually followed up on your new line of work. Well, that is where the elevator pitch comes in handy.
What is the elevator pitch?
Imagine you are a businessperson heading into an elevator with a prospective client. How will you sell your product to that prospective client by the time either of you gets off the elevator?
That’s exactly what the elevator pitch is all about – giving a synopsis of yourself or your project that is so brief you could present it during an elevator ride. More importantly, after you finish your pitch, even a complete stranger would know who you are and what you do.
Keep it short and sweet
Most of the time, your target audience has many things to do and proposals to review. They don’t want to take their time choosing someone to do business with – they want to get the direct facts to decide whether your services suit their needs, and then either seal the deal or move on fast.
Even if people had all day to listen to your pitch, they can get bored if your presentation starts delving into less relevant aspects of your product or service. So when you craft your elevator pitch, think about the most attractive points of what you are trying to sell – the unique selling points that set you apart from the rest of the competition.
How to craft your elevator pitch
If condensing all your content into a short speech seems tough, try these few steps.
1. Decide on your content
Think about what you want your pitch to describe. Maybe you want to introduce your family business, or talk about your company. Perhaps you are a freelancer and offer services to other companies. Do you have a great new business idea to sell to an executive? Or you may just want to introduce your qualifications and what you do. Whatever you have in mind for your pitch, it is important to have one topic and stick to it for your speech to be more memorable.
2. Have your audience in mind
Consider who you will be presenting your pitch to. Are they knowledgeable about your line of work? If not, you may want to avoid using jargon, which may put off your audience if they find the terms unfamiliar.
3. Focus on your unique selling points
It’s all fine to say “I’m a graphic designer making logos for companies”, but that statement is hardly memorable. What makes you or your business different from the rest? Why should clients choose you instead of your competitors? Be sure to include these unique selling points in your pitch.
For instance, you could say “I’m a graphic designer making logos for companies, but unlike most other designers, I’ll actually come down to your store and have a look so I can find out what best represents your company. I’ve delivered logos with 100 percent satisfaction so far.”
4. Engage your audience
It can be helpful to end off your pitch with an open-ended question where your conversation partner can carry on the topic. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. For instance, following the graphic designer line, you could ask something like “How does your company source for corporate images?”
Or if it’s more appropriate, you could present your business card or contact details to the other person. It’s a good idea to carry around small takeaway items, which can be business cards, brochures, pamphlets or something that advertises your service or business.
5. Practice makes perfect
When you present your elevator pitch to a potential client, it should not be the first time you’ve actually articulated your speech. On your own, practice in front of the mirror or to a friend or family member. If you can record your pitch and play it back to watch yourself, that’s a plus.
While your pitch may be absolutely perfect in terms of content, if your delivery is poor, chances are you won’t make much of an impression on your audience. Articulate your speech clearly – don’t speak too fast or monotonously. That’s why it is important to practice your pitch. The more you practice it, the more confident you get and the more natural it will sound.
6. Refine your pitch
Remember to time your pitch and make sure it doesn’t go over a minute in length – or you risk the other party losing interest. A good length to aim for is 20-30 seconds.
If your pitch is too long, read through it again and cut out the parts that aren’t absolutely necessary. Make it succinct and compelling!
It’s normal to go through multiple versions of your elevator pitch before you arrive at one that is compelling enough. In fact, you don’t even have to stick to having just one elevator pitch! If you’re pursuing different fields, you could have multiple pitches to be used depending on who you’re speaking to. You could also have a more specific pitch for use when speaking to professionals, and a more casual, general pitch for other social settings.
When to use an elevator pitch
Now that you have an idea of how to craft your elevator pitch, great! You may be wondering when and how to use this speech.
The elevator pitch’s namesake scenario may not actually be that common a situation in reality, but there are still many other cases where a short and succinct pitch will work perfectly.
When making your statement online, most potential clients generally don’t want to read a wall of text on your profile description. Some websites such as Twitter also limit the length of your message. Use your elevator pitch as a way to cut to the chase on your professional profiles, telling potential clients what you do in just a few sentences.
You may have the opportunity to attend various networking events, professional association programs or corporate gatherings. These are usually the perfect time to find connections, and most people probably won’t stop at just a few contacts. You want people to remember you even after the event – presenting an excellent elevator pitch is a good way to make yourself memorable.
Interviewers like to start with the question, “Tell me about yourself”. Your time in front of the panel is limited, and your interviewers are likely going to sit through an entire day of candidates. To make yourself really stand out from the rest of the interviewees, present your elevator pitch to answer that question clearly and confidently.