My client, Anabel once told me of a time she was asked to represent her boss at a conference. She was more than excited to fill in for him as it was going to be a gathering of her industry bigwigs and some of the speakers were people she had looked up to and inspired her decision to pursue her career.
Impressed with some of the ideas that one of the key speakers shared, she resolved within herself to meet the said speaker and tell her just how much her words had impacted her. During a break in the session, Anable noticed the speaker who was also a highly respected CEO chatting with other attendees and made her way towards the group. After hovering around awkwardly for a few minutes, the CEO noticed Anabel and waved for her to join the conversation. She joined the circle but was too star struck by the portfolios of the other people within the group to join in on the conversation. The CEO noticing her uneasiness gently led her away from the group, smiled at her and asked her how she was enjoying the conference and wanted to know what she did and the organization she was representing. My client opened her mouth but didn’t know where to start from.
The CEO noticing her uneasiness gently led her away, smiled at her and asked her how she was enjoying the conference. Anabel blurted out a curt response and fell silent. She speaker again noticing Anabel’s timidness wanted to know the organization Anabel was representing and her function. Again, Anabel opened her mouth but didn’t know where to start from. Then as she tried to organize her thoughts, an announcement was made for the CEO to join a panel and she shook hands and was on her way.
Anabel tells me that to this day she counts that moment as one of her most embarrassing moments and the ultimate missed opportunity.
Anabel would have avoided the embarrasment and the haunting memories of what could have been if she had developed an elevator pitch ahead of time.
So what exactly is an elevator pitch? An elevator pitch is a succinct and persuasive sales pitch. The term ‘elevator pitch’ reflects the idea that you may serendipitously enter into an elevator with a decision maker and that you should be able to sell yourself, business idea or organization in the time span of the elevator ride which could be anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The aim is that by the end of the elevator ride, you should have closed the deal or at least piqued the interest of decision maker enough to exchange business cards and be invited for a follow-up meeting.
An elevator pitch can be used to land a job, close a sale, get a mentor or even sell an idea to your management. It should be interesting, memorable, straight to the point and explains what makes you/your idea/product/organization stand out.
You can get your “elevator” opportunity anywhere from the departure lounge of a busy airport to a hotel lobby or like Anabel at a conference. So it is important that you have your elevator pitch on the ready because you never know when you are going to need it.
So now that you know how important to be prepared with your elevator pitch, here are a few pointers to help you develop your pitch:
- The first step towards developing your pitch is to identify the purpose. Is the purpose of your pitch to make a sale or do you want to land a job with it?
- Once you’ve idetified your goal, use your pitch to explain who you are, what you do/can do and what you want. Remember you don’t have all the time in the world so keep your intro curt and to the point.
- Ensure that you communicate your USP, what makes you, your product or your organization stand out? Why should you be given a chance above your competition?
- Make it engaging by asking questions. After explaining who you are and what you have to offer, ask an open ended question in line with your proposition to involve the person you are pitching to in a conversation.
- Put it all together by writing it out and reading it out loud. Use a timer to ensure that you are able to get all your points across in 20-30 seconds as anything longer may lead to you losing the person’s interest.
- Make several variations of your pitch as you may want to say things differently when pitching for a job than say when your pitch is aimed at getting an invvestor to buy into your business. You also want to have a longer or shorter version of your pitch depending on how much time you get to deliver it.
- Practise, practise, practise, recite your pitch in front of a mirror, record it with your phone so you can play it back to see and hear how you sound. It is also a good idea to try it out on a few trusted friends and let them critique it.
- Remember that you can have the best pitch but still lose the interest of the person because of your delivery. Speak with confidence, hold their gaze and its always a good idea to throw in a smile every now and then to make the atmosphere more relaxing.
Now that you know how important an elevator pitch is and how to develop one, what are you waiting for?