You enter an elevator. As the doors close, you notice the other person inside. This is the person who can take you, your project, your company, your dream to the next level. Your face begins to swelter, and droplets of perspiration glisten on your forehead, as your heartbeat goes faster. Your mouth is dry. When you open it… not a word comes out. You just don’t know what to say. The elevator doors open, the person leaves, and the opportunity is lost.
Does this sound like a nightmare scenario? We offer you some tips and tricks on the so-called elevator pitch so that you be prepared for such a situation in the future.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is akin to a sales pitch that is done in a very short time. As its name implies, it is to be used if we encounter a person on an elevator since its pithiness and brevity allow it to pack a punch in any reduced, social interaction. It should be about 30 to 60 seconds long and quite simple and to the point.
An elevator pitch may be used in other tight situations too: a cocktail party, a chance encounter, a party, a job fair or a career expo are all good moments to wield that elevator pitch you have in stock.
Try to jot down your five favorite movies and see if you can summarize them in under a minute. This should give you a good idea of what, in turn, an elevator pitch is. Your elevator pitch is the story of you, in under sixty seconds. You have a limited amount of time to convey the kernel of who you are, what you want, and where you want to go.
Things to Remember in an Elevator Pitch
The story of You: the elevator pitch is about who you are, what you do, and what you want. Engage the person with your personal story and credentials, then ask for what you want.
Keep it simple: Our life stories are often convoluted. Summarize who you are, what you do, and what you want in as small a nutshell as you can.
Practice, practice, practice: Write down your pitch on a card and practice, but do not memorize lines. Remember: it is about the ideas you are conveying, not specific words. Pitch to a friend or family member an ask them specific questions: Is it boring? Is it confusing? If you don’t have a friend at hand, try recording your pitch and listening to it. Try saying your elevator pitch out loud as well, even in front of the mirror.
Cui bono? In Latin: “who benefits?” Appeal to a person’s self-interest, not to their pity or even sympathy: How can they benefit from what you are bringing to the table?
Have a business card ready: Follow-up is going to be everything. Have a business card and be sure to ask how you may get in touch with the person. That should be the end of your pitch.
Things to Avoid in an Elevator Pitch
Too much information: We may think that by adding more and more we get a more cogent pitch, but rambling is a killer. Keep things tight.
Canned lines: If possible, try not to memorize lines, as it will show. Get your fundamentals right and go from there.
Going too fast: Keep your pitch short and deliver it at a good, solid pace, but don’t rush it.
Too much specifics: What you want is to give a fantastic first impression and to leave the door open to further interactions. Don’t fret about asking for a specific position or for a particular commitment. Rather, wow them and make them eager to know you more.
Lousy greetings and goodbyes: We have been talking a lot about the structure of who you are, what you do, and what you want. Remember, though, that you have to greet the person and say goodbye. Also, don’t forget to smile!
Some Examples of Elevator Pitches
All this sounds very well in theory, but let’s try to look at practical examples.
Let’s say it’s 2004 and you have a little startup called Facebook which you are pitching in Palo Alto: “I have a tech startup which allows users to share stories, pictures and interact with friends and family online.”
Your background is in accounting, but somehow, you want to make a jump into the non-profit world. You encounter the director of one such organization: “Hi Mr. X, my name is X. I admire your work. I have a background in accounting but am passionate about micro-financing in the developing world. I would love to have the chance to explain my ideas in detail.”
You are trying to acquire online marketing business from a company CEO: “I specialize in online marketing and have built a record of success with a solid list of clients, including X and X. I am confident we can provide solutions to make your company draw even more business.”
Have a brief pitch, between 30 and 60 seconds long. Describe who you are, what you do, and what you want. End with a business card and ask how you may contact that person.
There is no real need for canned lines, which may sound robotic, but make sure you have rehearsed, over and over again, so that the key building blocks of your pitch have become second nature to you. You may very well choose to switch the order of the phrases around. That’s fine, but remember the golden rule: keep it simple!
Once that first contact is made, and an ensuing meeting is in the books, visit Slidebean, to see how we can help you carry that first impression towards success. Good Luck with your pitches!