Imagine this. It’s Tuesday, you are riding the elevator up to the fifth floor of your office. The elevator stops on the second floor and your CEO hops on. “Hi,” they say. “What do you do?” You have three floors to nail what to say and no idea where to begin - what do you do?
Maybe this exact scenario hasn’t happened to you before. We have all had moments with potential clients, executives or someone we were networking with to tell them who we are and what we do - the elevator pitch. Designed to be an introduction tool, your elevator pitch should be a concise, engaging way to tell someone who you are or what you do. Often, we get intimidated with the idea of trying to wrap all we are into a short speech. Elevator pitches can be the perfect target to being able to reach someone for an idea, partnership or becoming a client. We are here to give you the four best practices for creating the perfect elevator pitch for you to nail at any given opportunity
1. Brainstorm to discover the objective of your pitch
Every pitch should have a purpose (and yes, you should have more than one). Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your pitch. Are you promoting a
product or service? Selling a new idea within your organization? Are you pitching yourself or your brand to a potential client? When you pinpoint what you are trying to accomplish, you can start brainstorming.
To begin the brainstorming process, create a list of eight to ten things you are trying to promote. Think about what makes you stand out from anyone else. What exactly do you do? What have you accomplished? What goals do you have set? What problems do you solve, and why is that important? Include statistics or data that can provide value to back up what you are saying. The purpose of your elevator pitch should include what you can do that no one else can.
You might discover that you have multiple things to pitch, and it’s okay to have more than one. Your pitch to the CEO of your brand isn’t going to be the same pitch you make to a potential client. Maybe one item you list can fit for a certain type of pitch but doesn’t flow well with the others. Keep your list as a reference point. You can always add or tailor it to fit the appropriate situation.
2. Write your pitch down and edit it - ruthlessly
You want your pitch to be as specific as you possibly can be. This is where having multiple pitches becomes easier. Eliminate anything that is redundant, unnecessary or broad jargon. You want to be concise enough to get your point across, detailed enough that you stand out. Think of each statement you make as a single selling point.
“I’ve developed a process that delivers 10 percent social media growth every year” sells better than “I'm good at social media engagement.”
“I’ve had the highest client retention number for the past three years” is more tangible than “I'm good at managing clients.”
“I’ve exceeded sales goals every quarter for the last two years” versus “I’m good at sales.”
This isn’t the time to be shy. You want to position yourself as the expert in whatever you are pitching. Think of your target audience and what they would care to know. Organizing your pitch by sections can help make it clear to who this is and what your USP (unique selling point) is. You always want your pitch to be as intentional as possible.
Here are five possible sections for your points to fall under:
Who I am
What I do
How I do it
Who I do it for
Why I do it
Every section should have one to two points under each. Organize it in the most logical way for you. Think about if you were to get off in the middle of your pitch. What do you want them to walk away remembering? This might look different depending on who you are pitching to. Adjust as you need to in order to give yourself the best lasting impression.
3. Practice, practice, and practice some more.
After you have your pitch honed in on the most important points, it’s time to practice. Start by recording and timing yourself. Give yourself a baseline on how long it takes you, and then cut it down. Practice on friends, family, and coworkers. Pick different settings and designate time in order to get yourself comfortable with being able to shift your pitch to what you are capable of given a time constraint. Your pitch should be perfected to fit if you have five minutes, two minutes, one minute, thirty seconds or ten seconds.
Be aware of your body language and tone when practicing. You want to be engaging and compelling, and how you convey that is just as important as the words you are saying. The impression you leave goes beyond that moment. You want who you are speaking to recall the best parts of your pitch. Practice enough to be comfortable and confident, but also practice being enthused. If you are excited about what you are pitching, you’ll leave a more memorable impression than just running through the motions.
4. Remember to evolve.
Your elevator pitch from two years ago might not reflect what you are accomplishing today. Your elevator pitch should always be evolving in order to represent the most current version of yourself. Keep track of notable accomplishments, changes or ideas you have. You never know when an opportunity will present itself. Think of ways to engage with who you are speaking with. Open-ended questions are a great way to draw the listener in and create a more open conversation that will keep them engaged.
The final touch to your elevator pitch is making sure you always have your business cards on you. This is the perfect way to end your pitch and puts your contact information in the hands of who you are speaking to directly.
Follow these strategies will ensure that you are able to craft the perfect elevator pitch. Through these best practices, you will be able to successfully nail every opportunity you have for an elevator pitch, and won’t ever be caught off guard when asked: “What do you do?”