As an entrepreneur, everything in your life is a little more complicated. The unstable income, unpredictable work hours, and daily demands of your job are just a few things that set you apart from the typical career crowd. But even everyday situations such as meeting new people and pitching your business to potential clients, can also be complicated. How can you explain your job or your company in a way that commands attention? In this article, I’ll share 6 tips that will help you master the art of an elevator pitch.
The Goal of an Elevator Pitch
An elevator speech earned its name from of the amount of time you have to talk to someone as you ride together in an elevator—usually less than 30 seconds. If you were in an elevator with a potential prospect, would you be able to convince him/her to have a more in-depth conversation with you in the time it takes to get to your floor?
I was on a cruise once with tons of awesome entrepreneurs and literally had to give an elevator pitch when the world-famous Russell Simmons walked in the elevator with me.
Conventional elevator pitches revolve around moving forward in a buying cycle—essentially, they’re used by salesman. But your elevator speech doesn’t have to be sales-oriented, it could be a networking introduction, a pitch for funding, or even just a request for advice and third-party opinions.
Who Needs One?
Because modern elevator speeches can be used in a variety of ways, almost any professional can benefit from having one.
If you’re in the market for new customers, you need an elevator speech to open the deal.
If you need funding, you need an elevator speech to hook your investors.
If you just want to meet new people, you need an elevator speech to make yourself memorable.
Basically, if you’re a professional and you meet new people regularly for any reason, you need an elevator speech to serve as your ideal introduction.
So how exactly do you go about making one?
1. Sketch out what makes you unique
Your first job is to sketch out everything that makes you unique (as a person or as a business).
Think of this as your unique value proposition, and feel free to elaborate as much as you like for now. This is the early stage of the drafting process. Talk about what niche you operate in, what your needs are, where you hope to grow, and what value you provide to your customers.
These are all important points you’ll need to cover, and be sure to add in your unique brand image, too.
2. Add a sense of mystery
Next, make sure there’s an air of mystery in your speech. Don’t give away the “secret sauce” right away.
Instead of “offering a subscription software that makes it easier to manage tasks,” you can “offer a solution to save users time.”
Giving the gist of your idea, rather than the full scoop, does two things for you: it reduces the total load of your pitch, and entices users to be more interested in what else you have to say.
If you can, try to add mystery by reducing some of the content you’ve already sketched out, rather than adding new content.
3. Come up with a call to action
Your elevator speech, like a blog post or other piece of web content, should have some kind of call to action.
What do you want your prospects to do after hearing your elevator speech?
Do you want them to visit your website? Call you later for more details? Connect with you on LinkedIn? Identify which outlet will give you the greatest potential for developing a further relationship, and emphasize that channel somewhere near the end of your pitch.
4. Cut, cut, and cut some more
Hopefully, by this step you’ve got a comprehensive, unique, mysterious, and actionable elevator speech that will appeal to almost anyone you talk to.
The big problem remaining with it is probably the length. You need to fit this into 30 seconds, so your next job is to make cuts.
Cut anything that isn’t absolutely necessary, from extra details to unneeded elaborations. Keep your phrasing short and to-the-point, and try to combine phrases to make your full piece shorter.
5. Know your body language
Having an effective written elevator speech isn’t the same as delivering one effectively.
You should learn and rehearse key points of body language to persuade your audience. You’ll want to maintain eye contact and keep an open body posture, and smile at your prospect whenever possible.
Small touches like these might not seem important, but they can make or break a first impression and therefore make or break your entire deal.
6. Practice! But not too much
When it comes to both the body language and delivery of your elevator speech, practice makes perfect.
Rehearse your pitch in a mirror and with other people who want to help you out.
Learn your key phrases, and make sure you can fit everything into your 30 second time slot.
There’s one caveat though, don’t over-rehearse.
If you practice too much, your phrasing will end up sounding clunky and robotic, and you’ll end up making a worse impression than if you’d said nothing at all.
Keep your phrasing loose and natural, and always speak from the heart.
Once you’ve followed these six steps for your own position or business, you should have no trouble introducing yourself to new people. In 30 seconds or less, you’ll have captured the interest of your prospect and opened the door to a much more meaningful conversation.
I hope these elevator pitch fundamentals helped you master the art of elevator pitch.