If you’re a business owner, manager or someone who has a sales orientated role, chances are that at some time you’ll need to do an elevator pitch. It might be to pitch to a new client, or to tell someone at a networking event what you do. It might be to develop relationships at a networking event or even simply to get a job through an interview which is via a recruitment panel. You might be up on stage, actually pitching to an audience.
As a business coach, public speaker, networker, writer and BMD, I’ve had hundreds of times where I’ve needed to do an elevator pitch … so here are my top tips for a great elevator pitch:
- Know the purpose of the pitch. To get them to ask you for a proposal, use your services, or purely to agree to a catch-up coffee and chat?
- Know or work out the time you have. Most elevator pitches are 30-75 seconds (yep seconds) but if you’ve been given “3 minutes to introduce yourself” then take that time. Take no more. Organisers hate people who monopolise the floor – but don’t short yourself either. Have your phone (on silent) in front of you with a timer running if you need.
- Plan what you’ll say; usually there is a beginning, middle and end:
- Beginning – who you are and what you do
- Middle – the main message, some options below
- End – CTA, name again and tagline.
Your elevator pitch will be likely broken up into three sections; beginning, middle and end:
Intro yourself and your name. Hi everyone, I’m Blake Chapman from Blake Chapman Communication.
Say what you do. “I use my 10+ years of experience to help organisations like yours attain funding. As a grant writer who specialises in the sciences, I work with universities and private enterprises to attain funding through grant writing.” <Example, I’m sure you could write better.>
- Middle – A few different options below
Ask a question (if talking to an audience). Eg, who would like an extra $100K? Pause, smile and wait whilst you yourself hold up your hand as a yes, yourself. In other words, get the audience engaged. “Well, that’s what I saved my client when ….”
If time allows, say how you’re different. Ie “When you work with Blake Chapman Communication, you work with me and only me. I offer a very unique and personalised service where service and results are paramount.”
If time allows, you can share a VERY BRIEF story “I’ve just been working with a client and we’re both super excited to have got $300K for them!” or “Just helped a client get their 4th lot of funding … “ or “Just helped a client I’ve been working with for 7 years to get their next level of funding for the upcoming year.” Stories of success but obviously don’t mention specifics from a confidentiality perspective.
What’s your CTA (call to action)? “Give me a call on xxxxx” or “Can I get your business card and perhaps I could shout you a coffee?” or “Please pick up my flyer on your seat and check out my website” or “After the event, I’ll be up the back, come and see me”. It might be “Thanks for taking the time to consider my proposal; if you do have any questions, please reach out; I’d only be too happy to answer.” Really depends whether you’re on stage presenting, pitching to a prospective client, or at a general networking function.
Repeat your name (if at a networking event and everyone is getting up to say a quick 30-60 seconds about what they do). Idea is name at the beginning to intro yourself, then say what you do and then again at the end because, if the person liked your message, they will suddenly want to know your name to reach out and may not have caught it properly at the beginning.
Finish off with your cool tagline: ie Donna Stone – Business Coach – My Passion is Your Potential.
Some pointers for the actual delivery:
- Prepare and know your time allowance. Be clear on your purpose.
- Know your audience; Google the place first, or the person (ie LinkedIn is great for that).
- Dress the part; if business/networking for business, then business attire.
- Have your tools; if networking for example, always have business cards on you.
- Smile, be friendly.
- Remember body language. Don’t cross your arms (even if it’s freezing cold)! Stand tall, breathe, smile and use your hands (without going overboard).
- If speaking 1-on-1 maintain eye contact and relax your wording a bit, so it’s not sounding like a well-rehearsed presentation and be sure to absolutely ask the person what they do. So this means you won’t hug the conversation; but instead tell them your bit, no more than a minute and then ask them what they do, or what their business is. Remember in networking and 1-on-1 discussions, it should be at least 50/50 speaking and listening if not listening a bit more. Good listeners gain a lot of knowledge from using their ears AND the other person appreciates being listened to, rather than ‘sold to’.
- Consider props. Above, where I’ve used that one of “who would like $100K” I had a wad of $100 bills (fake of course) and would wave those at the audience. That sure got their attention!
- Be positive.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Especially if you’re new to speaking, or nervous, you will rush. SLOW DOWN. Use pause for emphasis and to allow you to think and avoid the ‘umms’.
- Practice, practice, practice and never read your elevator pitch.
I will say that with any public speaking, whether it’s in business or your personal life, what often is most effective is practice. I’m not just talking about the practice of what you’re specifically saying, but regularly speaking. It’s one of those skills that you can get rusty on and if you do it regularly, then you’re more likely to keep your skills working well.