Crafting the perfect elevator pitch is both an amazing challenge and opportunity for any entrepreneur. It's the worst when someone asks you about your business and you stumble, saying, "Um, well, it's just this thing I started..."
Having an elevator pitch in your back pocket is an invaluable asset--whether you plan on pitching to potential investors, customers, and employees.
Avi Loren Fox--the millennial founder and designer of Wild Mantle Co.--recently appeared on MSNBC's show Your Business Elevator Pitch. Here are some tips Avi learned and discovered along the way that helped her create the perfect pitch. The words that follow are all Avi's.
1. Discover your formula
Before I pitched on MSNBC, I watched a bunch of the other pitches and challenged myself to dissect each one into a formula so that I understood the structure of the pitch. Most addressed the basics: WHO you are, WHAT your business is, WHEN you started and how far you've come (including metrics), WHERE you are now and where you want to go, WHY they should invest in you and HOW you plan to use this money to make them more money. Sound familiar? They teach the who-what-when-where-why-how formula for writing in grade school. In a 60-second pitch, you only have time for 11 or so short sentences. I crafted my 60-second pitch so that the first 30 seconds could be delivered anywhere to anyone (who, what, when) and the second 30 seconds directly addressed our challenges and the future (where, why, how). So, make every word count. Watch other pitches. Leave the content of your pitch to hit all the important points, so that the enthusiasm and confidence of your delivery can win over hearts and minds.
2. Memorize your pitch
I've got great news! Because an elevator pitch is really really short, you can actually memorize it so you don't have to worry about thinking on your feet and messing up what you're going to say. My elevator pitch was only 11 sentences, and by the time I finished memorizing it, I knew it inside and out and was able to focus on what words I wanted to emphasize and what body language I was going to use. In order to memorize my pitch, I broke it down visually into sections (first half, second half), and then took it one sentence at a time. When I memorized the first sentence, I added the second, and so on and so on.
3. Practice somewhere noisy
When you practice your pitch, it will likely be in front of a mirror or video camera in a quiet room. This is a really great place to start, but the reality is that when you actually deliver your pitch, you get one shot and you have to be confident in your ability to deliver without reacting to any distractions. Remember that you'll be looking at other people, who have their own expressions, body language, and reactions that you need to be able to process without it affecting your pitch or shaking your confidence. So, after I had my pitch memorized, I practiced giving the pitch to other people, I practiced while the TV was on, and I practiced on the street until I could get through the whole thing without anything distracting me. That's when you know that you have it down, no matter what.
4. Power pose
Remember that TED Talk by Amy Cuddy about power posing? Well, it's legit. Before I practice a pitch, and especially before I deliver a pitch, I make it a point to stand in a power pose, like Super Woman or with my arms in the air. Practicing good posture actually boosts your confidence, which not only ups your chances of delivering your pitch really well, but also will make you come off as more confident to those you are pitching to. And, would you rather invest in an entrepreneur who was confident or one who was scared and slouchy?
5. Work with the adrenalin
In the hours before I pitch, I usually also get really nervous. I've learned that when I try to fight this and feel bad for being nervous, it just lowers my confidence. Instead, I've discovered that if I accept my nervousness, I can use the huge adrenalin rush to my advantage to help me focus. Go with the roller coaster--don't fight it! Just breathe, throw your hands up, and enjoy the ride. If you can get past the nervousness, you can use the adrenalin to your advantage to help you focus and take the pitch by storm.