Many people cringe at the idea of a 60 second elevator pitch, ultimately seeing it as an outdated sales pitch that does little to truly aid a business. However, in reality, this ‘sales story’ is much more about effective communication. Simply, you must be able to clearly articulate to someone what you do and how you provide value in one minute or less.
A chance meeting at a networking event, conference, or even in a lift, could turn out to be with an investor, partner or customer who propels your business to the forefront of the industry. So, this minute pitch is not to be discounted. In today’s article, I’ll be sharing why – and how – you should develop a concise elevator speech.
Why do you need a 60 second elevator pitch?
Its name, often credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso, is derived from the idea of bumping into a senior staff member in an elevator and having to try and win them over by the time they’ve reached their floor. Your description should be so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more after the elevator ride is over.
You only have a minute to make a powerful first impression – whether it be professionally or personally. The attention span of a person is just 30 seconds, at which point their mind will start wondering if they aren’t fully engaged. We value our time, and if you are found to be wasting it, the person you are speaking to will think you are unable to add value. You need to be quick, clear and concise to avoid causing the listener frustration for lack of understanding what it is you actually do. So, let’s delve into exactly why the 60 second elevator pitch is still so essential today…
Entices them to engage
You certainly don’t want to make an individual yawn whilst you mumble on! It’s easy to get carried away when you are passionate about your product or services, but that isn’t to say your listener will automatically feel the same. Your carefully crafted elevator speech acts as a buffer, spiking the individual’s interest and giving you the in. It’s crucial you showcase the value of you or your idea in the smallest time frame possible.
Organises your thoughts
Describing something when you’ve been put on the spot without any prior preparation, will often see you ramble on, adding ideas here and there or flitting between previous points. It can feel tedious and unnecessarily long-winded an explanation. By preparing your minute speech, you can succinctly organise your thoughts and highlight exactly what it is that makes you/your product so important for the listener.
Not only will you be prepared to impress, but you can reduce your own personal anxiety and instead, enter confidently into conversation with a potentially invaluable investor, client or partner, eliminating the risk of being caught off-guard.
Aids you identifying your ideal
You may have decided on the type of investor you need to aid your business venture, and now you’re on the hunt. Crafting a 60 second elevator pitch allows you to question the language and tone you need to use when talking to those you want to impress, as well as the sort of arguments and ideas that will appeal most. You need to speak the ‘lingo’ and adapt your conversation to best suit the social construct of the situation, whether it be in a professional or personal setting.
Escape the digital trap
Social media has had a significant effect on our attention spans, each of us digests a large quantity of information in just a few, short minutes. It has, therefore, become more and more difficult to make new professional relationships as we lose interest all the faster. By crafting an elevator pitch, you can prepare and utilise engaging language that entices the listener to continue the conversation after the initial time frame, allowing for effective networking and relationships to form. You need to have the confidence to enter into chance meetings, catching someone without headphones or their head in their Kindle.
How to curate and enter into an effective 60 second elevator pitch: The 6 key tips
Most elevator speeches will have been formulated and memorised, preparation is key to success. So, I’ve got the 6 top tips to help you craft an effective pitch, guaranteeing you the right results time and again:
#1 Detail what you do
If you’re representing a company or organisation, it’s usually best to open with the problem and highlight how the company solves it – spiking the listener’s interest as you highlight an opportunity to enter into the market. For example, you might choose to start with: “Don’t you hate it when your internet keeps cutting out? We’ve offered internet services for 5 years, and have a 97% uptime making us the top provider in the local area.”
Remember, ambiguity does not work here; think of a pitch more akin to an extended job title, it’s not your mission or values but simply what you actually do and your unique selling point.
#2 Find common ground
Dropping potential links such as locations, institutions or contacts can comfortably open up conversation and is a fantastic way to enter into networking opportunities. Whilst, of course, this is not essential to build long-lasting effective relationships in the business world, it can significantly aid as it provides you with an ‘in’ to, opening up the potential for further discussion over this shared commonality.
#3 Avoid hard-selling
You don’t want to force your product or services onto an individual, particularly if they are not actually interested or have little need for what you actually provide. Hard-selling can be highly off-putting or could put the listener in an uncomfortable position. It may the desired result of your pitch, but instead, highlight with an example of a statistic such as: “4/5 of our customers recommend our services to their friends and family based on the consistency and speed of our internet services.”
#4 Ask questions
The whole point of the 60 second elevator pitch is to continue into further conversation, and therefore, you should look to finish your speech with a question, enticing the listener to pick up from where you left off. The easiest is often, “What about yourself?” but it could be more specific to what your pitch is related to. If we continue with the internet provider example, you could end with the question, “Do you ever have problems with your internet?” or “Out of curiosity, which provider are you with? And why did you choose them?” but broader questions tend to be more successful.
Furthermore, be prepared to answer questions. Perhaps draft out three or four responses to likely questions so you can continue building upon the strong first impression you’ve made.
#5 Remember body language
There can be a very fine line between confidence and arrogance, and likeability is subjective. You need a solid stance and open body language to portray yourself in the very best light. Having a fantastic speech prepared will do little if you’re body language is opposing what you are saying.
- Have an open posture. Be relaxed, but don’t slouch! Sit or stand upright and place your hands by your sides. Avoid standing with your hands on your hips, as this can communicate aggression or a desire to dominate.
- Use a firm handshake. But don’t get carried away! You don’t want it to become awkward, aggressive, or painful for the other person.
- Maintain good eye contact. Try to hold the other person’s gaze for a few seconds at a time. This will show them that you’re sincere and engaged. But avoid turning it into a staring contest!
- Avoid touching your face. If you do while answering questions, it can be seen as a sign of dishonesty. While this isn’t always the case, you should still avoid fiddling with your hair or scratching your nose, so that you convey trustworthiness.
- Use mirroring. If you can, subtly mirror the body language of the person you’re talking to as this will make them feel more at ease and can build rapport. But avoid copying every movement!
#6 Refine over time
You know your business inside out, but those you are pitching to don’t. To build an effective 60 second elevator pitch, you need to carefully listen to the questions people are asking you and use this feedback to develop and refine your speech. Great business owners proactively look to communicate more successfully, interpreting feedback is essential to develop your speech and build meaningful network connections.
Whilst there is no fail-safe recipe when crafting an elevator pitch, the key is to be concise, clear and quick. Preparation is essential as you’ll be able to focus your thoughts, thereby spiking your listeners interest with engaging insight rather than unnecessary waffle.
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