Elevator pitches are one of the best tools you have in your entrepreneurial arsenal. Sometimes called elevator speeches, the concept is pretty simple; if you aren't familiar, your elevator pitch is the shortest, most concise and direct pitch you can give about your business--as if you only had the time an elevator takes between floors to give this pitch to a potential recipient. Sometimes, it's used as a way to pique interest in investment, and others, it's a way to attract new clients. In any case, it's a verbal tool to open the door to a bigger, more important discussion--and that's why it's so important. Sometimes, an elevator pitch is the only chance you have to progress the deal further.

Accordingly, you'll want your elevator pitch to be as polished as possible. So how can you do this?

This is your fundamental guide to building a better elevator pitch.

Uniqueness

First, remember that the people you'll be pitching to have likely heard a lot of garbage in their lives. They've also been approached by a number of strangers trying to beat around the bush or trick them into buying something. If you want to give your full elevator pitch, you first need a good attention grabber--and that means you have to offer something unique. Think about your target audience, and a way you can approach them with something innocuous that leads into your main idea. For example, you might illustrate a problem in some common, relatable terms, then move into how you solve that problem.

Value

Next, you'll need to know what your unique value proposition is. Depending on the nature and intention of your elevator pitch, this could be any number of things--and keep in mind the value proposition of the business and the value proposition of the speech may be two different things. For example, your business might offer an all-in-one solution to persistent body odor, but the value to a potential investor is a long-term return on their initial investment. Be as specific as possible here, citing numbers and examples if you can. If a user doesn't hear some kind of value right away, they're probably going to stop listening to you.

Conciseness

Conciseness is a valuable quality in all forms of writing and speaking, but it's especially important in the context of an elevator pitch because you generally only have 60 seconds to give it (some people reduce this quantity to 30 seconds). Clearly, it's not enough space to tell your audience everything there is to know about your business--not by a long shot--so you have to reduce your talking points down to only those that are most important, and find a way to word them that makes your point seamlessly understandable.

Engagement

Good elevator pitches aren't just speeches, and it's why I take mild exception to the term "speech." On the contrary, good elevator pitches offer some form of engagement, getting the other person involved directly on some level. The more active a participant your audience is, the more likely they'll be to retain the memory of your pitch (and the more interested they'll be in the first place). Ask questions, or try to involve them in an exercise. anything you can do to get them feeling like they're an active part of your pitch is good.

Call to Action

Don't forget that every elevator pitch needs some kind of call to action (CTA). What that CTA is will depend on your ultimate goals; for example, you might only be after an email address or telephone number. You might be scouting for potential investors. You might even just be driving people to your website. Whatever your goal is, make sure there's a specific and appealing ask for it by the end of your pitch. There should also be some kind of incentive for the consumer to take this action, but you should have covered that in your "value" section.

Rehearsal

Finally, you need to recognize that even the most polished draft of an elevator pitch is probably going to sound clunky when you first give it. You'll need to practice your speech, in front of a mirror if you have to, until you're more comfortable and natural giving it. However, be wary not to practice too much, or strictly execute your pitch verbatim--or else you might end up sounding like a robot.

With these tools and concepts, you should have everything you need to take your elevator pitch to the next level of effectiveness. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to go out and put it to good use. Though technically, you can use your elevator pitch as a cold open via email or as an introductory line in a social media exchange, most elevator pitches work better face-to-face so you can have a real exchange. Network everywhere you can, and don't be afraid to talk to total strangers--successful pitching is a numbers game, and the more opportunities you take, the better chances you'll have at hitting your goals.

Published on: Jul 20, 2016
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