The idea of an elevator pitch is to memorably explain to someone in the time it takes to ride an elevator what you do.
How long is an elevator ride? Well that’s variable. So how long should your pitch be? Personally, I like having a two stage elevator pitch (partially because audience participation is always more fun) so the first part should be about 15 seconds, then a question, or a pause to allow your audience to ask a question, then a second stage.
This means if you interrupted after the first sentence (using the metaphor) they’re only travelling one floor, you have a chance of piquing their interest before they’re gone.
An elevator pitch is handy if you suddenly find yourself in front of your best potential client, or you want to find a way to explain what you do so you’ll get remembered. We use the metaphor of an elevator to help make people keep the pitch short and concise.
An ideal elevator pitch uses metaphors or similes so that people can understand easily how you help and who you help.
Creating your pitch
1. What’s your aim?
Decide what you’d ideally want people to do once hearing your pitch. It might be to visit your website, book a meeting, arrange a free assessment . . . Something small that is a nice easy first step. Obviously the end goal is always for them to buy something, but that sometimes needs to happen a little further down the road.
2. Who, where, what, why?
Make a list of the main answers to your main questions. Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? Who do you do it for? Have you done this for anyone notable?
If you have more than one service you want to talk about, you might want to have a slightly different angle for each pitch, but just start with your lowest common denominator (usually your cheapest, most universal service).
3. Now rewrite it all in sentence with flow.
Imagine someone just asked you what you do. Your elevator pitch would be something like ‘I make widgets for the computer industry. For instance, I’ve worked with IBM to create a super widget.’
4. End with something memorable
Your hook/aim is a great place to start. ‘I offer a free widget assessment if you know anyone who might be interested.’ Using the line ‘if you know someone who might be interested’ is a great way to let them know the offer is available without it being a pushy sales pitch.
It also helps to have a business-card-size hand out that they can refer to if they do want to pass the information on.
What to do to perfect your pitch
1. Check it. Get some feedback.
What sounds nice and simple and straightforward to you, might sound a bit confusing to others. So getting feedback from the right people is key to making this work.
Ask your significant other, your children, a couple of clients . . . people who can be trusted to be honest with you and aren’t in the same field as you. Your pitch should be able to be understood by a ten year old!
Once it’s perfected, practice your pitch. Try it out at some networking meetings, down the coffee shop, other places you hang out.
3. Listen to feedback
If people don’t seem to engage very much with what you’re saying, it may be that it’s not quite hitting the right spot. Think about similes you can use to explain in a slightly clearer way how you help. P.S. Car based similes are great.
Bringing things to a more basic, relatable level works fantastically (so rather than saying that you are an accountant – you might say you help people pay less tax).
And never underestimate the effectiveness of humour (just aim for slightly self-depricating rather than just poking at someone else).