In line at the local grocer, you bump into a former colleague of yours that you haven’t seen since you launched your new business. After exchanging a few pleasantries, he asks what your new company does. You are passionate about what you do and are excited about what you have to offer, but as the checkout line inches up, you realize you only have a few seconds to get it all out. What do you say? And what if the person in front of you is an investor, who you’d like to sway to invest? In this blog, you’ll get advice on how to write an incredible pitch, with help from Elevator Pitch Coach & Keynote Speaker Edo van Santen.
This is why having an elevator pitch prepared ahead of time is so important. In many instances, you will literally only have the time it takes to ride up a floor in an elevator to convey a message about your organization that is both clear and compelling.
It needs to tell the listener who you are, what you have to offer and why they should consider doing business with you. Ideally, it should be engaging enough to get them excited about working with you. Oh, and did we mention you have to do all of this in a span of about 30-60 seconds?
Sound impossible? Not if you use the right strategy and prepare ahead. To craft your elevator pitch, start by answering the following questions:
- Who are you
- What do you do
- What problems does that solve for your clients
- What makes you unique
- What do you want
Putting it together
Now that you know what message you’d like to convey, it’s time to get to work crafting the actual content of your pitch. Start by describing what your company does. Focus on the problems that you solve and how you help people. If you’re really stumped, ask yourself what it is you’d like the listener to remember about you and then hone your speech accordingly. You may decide to prepare different pitches for different encounters. An ex-colleague, after all, should remember other information than a potential investor.
Keep them wanting more
A great asset forcing you to keep your pitch both interesting and well-structured is the A.I.D.A. model (Attention → Interest → Desire → Action). The model, often used by sales and marketing professionals, ensures that your story will be coherent and clear. Above all, remember to get excited. If your pitch isn’t something that gets your blood flowing, it won’t do much to elicit a reaction from your audience.
Narrowing it Down
Of course, you won’t be able to answer all those questions in the short span of a pitch. The key is to choose the questions that best suit your goal, or what you’d like your speech to help you accomplish (i.e. win over new clients vs. land new investors, etc.) and narrow it down from there. You want to whittle the list down until you have only the things that will effectively capture the attention of your audience. From there you can start to actually develop the speech itself.
The Twitter Pitch | Mini-Pitch | 10-second Pitch
One way to approach the challenge of keeping your pitch short and sweet is to think of it as a Twitter update: something that relates to only the core elements of your product, company or service in no more than two sentences (or 140 characters). If you can explain the core values of your organization well in such limited amount of words, your success is almost guaranteed.
Consider the way you talk
When you think about the term ‘Elevator Pitch’, it’s easily associated with a high-paced pitch. Before you know if, the figurative elevator doors will open again. In order to get your story across, talking in a clear, calm tone can make an incredible difference. You wouldn’t want to rush through your story and lose your audience when you’re half way through your pitch. Maintain an absolute maximum of 150 words per minute, less is a lot more. A story at breakneck speed is hard to keep up with and – more importantly – hard to remember. Good writing is rewriting. The less words you use, the better your story will stick.
We all used to have a classmate who talked like he/she was in a hurry to catch the last train. Resulting in a neglect to what they actually had to say. As a voiceover and old radio jock, I’ve experienced it first hand. When I rush into the studio, or I’m to interview someone famous, controlling my breath is of great importance. In these situations, you’ll be quick to take short breaths of air and have little left to speak with. The result: your voice increases in pitch which makes your story sound rushed and that’ll come across as unconfident to your new listener. So take your time. Take a few deep breaths. Just make sure you breathe through your stomach. Not your chest.
Be Open and Honest
It’s important that your pitch is positive and engaging. That said, it should also be realistic. If you’re giving a prediction, don’t tell your audience you intend to lead your market within three years. You can’t plan things like that. Be honest and open about your growth scenarios. Potential investors are very tough-minded, pragmatic individuals. They won’t invest in anything that sounds too good to be true.
Keep in mind that investors (and even customers) are looking for people who are energetic, enthusiastic and passionate about their work. A well-planned pitched that is delivered poorly has no chance of success. On the other hand, a mediocre plan that happens to be pitched well will stand a better chance of making a positive impact.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The last step in the process is to practice your elevator pitch until you’ve got it down pat. You should be able to quickly rattle it off without having to think about it, as if it’s second nature. Once you do, you’ll be able to more effectively spread the word about your business anywhere and everywhere opportunities exist.
Special thanks to Edo van Santen for his input for this blog.