Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

The Elevator Pitch

The idea of an elevator pitch is that you propose and sell something (yourself, a project, product, philosophy or concept)  in a very short space of time.   You may think it’s only important to people in sales, but in fact there are hundreds of occasions – everything from breaking the ice at a cocktail party to performing well in a job search, which need you to communicate a critical message quickly. So, whether it’s a professional, academic, political, philanthropic, or personal setting, an elevator pitch should be part of your communication took-kit.

As with most oral presentations, you need to start with some good clear thinking.  Developing an elevator pitch forces you to clarify  the essence of  your business, philosophy – whatever. It requires you to get to the core – fast. It can take a lot of time, so don’t imagine you will knock this off in a jiffy.

Developing and refining your elevator speech will become an ongoing operation as you try it out and see what works.  Once you have an elevator pitch you can edit and rejig and morph your script into a range of versions which suit different occasions.

There are a gazillion examples on YouTube. And I don’t  sell stuff, but here are a couple of worthwhile books: How to get your point accross in 30 seconds or less,  Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect

Meantime here’s a pretty good method from  How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business.

    • Write down what you do. Write it several different ways. Try writing it at least 10-20 different ways. Don’t edit yourself at all. You will edit later. This first step is for generating ideas. Don’t hold back. Ideas can be goofy, serious, wild, funny, or conservative. It doesn’t matter. The goal is to get at many ideas as possible down on paper.
    • Write a very short story that illustrates what you do for people. If necessary, the story can be long. You will boil it down later. Paint a picture with words.
    • Write down your objective or goal. Do you want to make a sale, gain a prospect, enlist support for an idea, earn a referral, or something else?
    • Write 10-20 action statements. This is a statement or question designed to spur the action associated with your goal. Things that will stimulate the result you are after.
    • Record yourself.
    • Let it sit. Come back to what you’ve written with fresh eyes and ears the next day or later on in the same day.
    • Highlight the good stuff. Listen and read through what you’ve recorded and written. Then either highlight or circle the phrases that hook you with clear, powerful, and visual words. Obviously not all the words will fall into these categories. You still need connector words, but you want them to be as few as possible.
    • Put the best pieces together. Again you’ll want to write down several versions of this much tighter pitch. Tell us what you do and why people should want to do business with you. Include elements from your story if you can fit it in.
    • Record these new ones.
    • Do a final edit cutting as many unnecessary words as possible. Rearrange words and phrases until it sounds just right. Again, the goal is 30-60 seconds maximum.
    • Dress Rehearsal. Run it by as many people as you can get to listen to you. Get feedback from colleagues, clients you trust, friends and family.
    • Done for now. Take your final elevator pitch and write it down. Memorize and practice it until it just slides off your tongue naturally.
  • Continue to improve. Over time, always be on the listen for phrases that you think could make your elevator pitch more clear and impactful. And then test it out. Every once in a while you will probably benefit by starting from scratch because things always change: you, your business, your goals, and your clients’ needs.

You want your pitch to stand out and be unique, so give it life and personality by allowing your pitch to paint a picture or tell a story.   When delivering it,  convey passion and confidence.  It really makes a difference when your message has some feeling to it.

If that’s too much torture and  trouble for you, you can follow Jim Harvey’s advice:

” I’m not a great fan of the ‘elevator’ because I think even 30-45 seconds is too long when someone’s asked you, usually more out of courtesy, what it is you do. So give it 10 minutes and lets’s see what we can come up with.   Take a pen and piece of paper and jot down some first thoughts about

  • What your business does at the broadest level.
  • A short example of a real life case study and the benefits that has had for the client concerned.
  • A simple, truthful thing that makes you different to the competition.”

He got his whole pitch into one sentence: “We help our clients sell more stuff, whatever they do. “

And finally, here’s one from Intel for employees to use,

“Intel, the world’s largest silicon innovator, creates products and technologies that change the way people live, work and play. Whether it’s a mobile lifestyle or a new way to enjoy entertainment at home, Intel is helping people all over the world accomplish things they never before dreamed possible.”

Readers can really help each other – post your elevator pitch in the comments column.

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One comment on “The Elevator Pitch

  1. Rob Hall
    10/07/2012

    I think this post provides an excellent process for developing one’s pitch… and I say one’s pitch advisedly because I think, unfortunately, the Intel example sounds like the kind of corporate blah that might be heard in the break between sets, rounds, innings in sporting TV programs. The only response is “oh.” I wanted to know about the person in the elevator and whether I should build a business relationship with them—not the corporation.

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This entry was posted on 09/07/2012 by in Audience connection, Preparing a speech and tagged .

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