What is an Elevator Pitch?
You may have heard people talking about your ‘elevator pitch’. This is a short pitch – usually 60 seconds or less, which tells people all about your business and your mission. It’s called an Elevator pitch because the idea is you should be able to deliver it to someone in the time it takes you to go up in an elevator. If you meet some big shot in a lift you want to be able to impress them by the time they get to their floor! Do you think you could sum up perfectly what your mission is in 60 seconds or less? Very few businesses can! So that’s why it’s important to practice.
It’s All About the Structure
Sixty seconds is not a lot of time. Most of the businesses I’ve seen take on this challenge think it would be no problem at all to keep within this timeframe, then on their first run are realising they can’t get even close to fitting in all the information they need to. That’s why you need to structure your pitch very carefully and make sure the important facts are in there. This is the format of a good elevator pitch:
- The Problem
- The Solution
- The Business Side
- The Ask
You can see it’s a lot of information to squeeze into a minute! You can use our Elevator Pitch Framework to help you structure your pitch. Let’s go over what each of these areas should include:
People will decide within the first moments whether they are going to listen to you, or whether their eyes will glaze over as they think about what to have for dinner. So you need to grab their attention right at the start and make them interested. Hit them with an interesting fact or a question or something that is going to pique their curiosity. It should be something that evokes some kind of emotional reaction, whether that’s shock or laughter or just being able to relate.
Now you have their interest, it’s time to address the real issue that you are solving. Talk about the problem that your business addresses to set up why there is a need for it.
They’re thinking of the problem, so tell them of the solution, talk about why your business is the answer and why it’s a better solution than anything else out there. Explain what makes you unique.
You’ve sold them on the idea but now it’s time to talk facts. Now you need to back up what you’ve just said with information about the industry, market size, potential revenue. You want to discuss your plan to make this a success – What are your revenue streams? Who are your customers? How will you execute?
Once you start talking facts, people will mentally begin to pick holes in your business. Beat them to it. Address any of the obvious threats to your business and show you’ve already thought this all through. Mention who your biggest competitors are and what challenges you might face. It may seem counter intuitive to point out the risks, but it shows you know your stuff.
After discussing the risks, talk about the good stuff. What you’ve got going for you. This is a great opportunity to talk about the team or your own background and what you bring to the table that nobody else has. You might also talk about your successes so far – sales you’ve made, partnerships you’ve agreed or even buzz you may have created online – anything that shows you’re moving in the right direction.
Every pitch should have an ask. Even if you think you don’t need anything. You might not be pitching for investment, but you should always take the opportunity to gain something. If they’ve listened this long they clearly have an interest so take advantage. It could be something as small as asking them to try your product or even following you on instagram – but there should always be some kind of ask.
Streamline All the Waffle
So if you were to go through each of those sections, write down your notes and then read them out, I guarantee it will be more than 60 seconds. Writing the pitch is actually the easy part, the hard part is in whittling it down to the bare, most important bones. Write and re-write the pitch over and over until it is just pure pitch gold. You will end up cutting out a lot of information that you deem important, but be bold and cut it. If someone is interested they will likely have follow up questions and you can slot your information in then – but the actual pitch should be completely streamlined.
Turn It Into a Spice Girls Song
Read the pitch out sixty times. And then read it 60 more. The secret of a really perfected elevator pitch is that it should just roll off your tongue without you even needing to think about it. You know how when a Spice Girls song comes on the radio and you somehow still know all the words, despite not having heard it in over a decade? That’s what your pitch should become. Nobody is impressed by a pitcher holding notes, so make sure this pitch is etched into your brain.
Make it Interesting
Once you have it memorised, it’s time to make it interesting. It’s one thing to know your pitch off by heart, but you need to keep it exciting as you talk. A monosyllabic pitch won’t hold anyone’s attention, so work on your tone, inflection and flow to keep your audience captivated.
Swallow Your Pride & Get Feedback
I know, there’s nothing more nerve wracking or embarrassing then pitching to people you know. For some reason it’s worse than doing it in front of complete strangers, but you’ve got to do it. The reasons are two fold. Firstly, you need to get used to doing this in front of people and learning to pitch perfectly when your belly is full of nerves.
Secondly, you need to get feedback. Regardless of how carefully you constructed your pitch or how many times you’ve practiced it, there will always be things you haven’t thought of, or questions that won’t have occurred to you. Encourage your friends to ask you any questions that pop into your head so you are well prepared for whatever might come up. Ask for feedback on the pitch and genuinely take it on board. Try not to get defensive (easier said than done) and value every bit of constructive criticism you get.
Elevator Pitch Template
To help you get started, print off our Elevator Pitch Framework and fill in the boxes with key points to make for each section. Then start whittling it down and practicing and be on your way to pitch perfection!
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