We’ve all had situations where we unexpectedly meet someone who asks the much anticipated question “What do you do?” As an entrepreneur, we thrive on these opportunities, as you never know what interest this person has, what job they are in, who they know, or if their brother-in-law is an investor billionaire. We know it is important to give an effective elevator pitch but it is amazing how many people give really poor pitches. For these reasons, you have to plan and prepare for the chance to deliver your perfect pitch. Once you have a practiced pitch with the essential elements outlined, you’ll then tailor it based on the situation.
A great way to start your pitch planning exercise is to consider what few points you’ll be angry at yourself for letting them walk away without hearing. Use your hand to guide you. The thumb is your intro, your little finger is your wrap up or conclusion. Now fill in the content by making three impactful points (your three middle fingers).
Fill in this guideline to help you get started:
THUMB: (attention grabber, why should they want to listen? What problem are you addressing? what does your business do?)
INDEX FINGER: Point #1 (something your company offers that makes you unique, how are you different than the guy next door who has done this for years?)
MIDDLE FINGER: Point #2 (How will your product or service make me better, safer, richer? People are moved to buy by fear or desire)
RING FINGER: Point #3 (Why should you consider my offering now? Offer proof or a customer example as appropriate)
LITTLE FINGER: Wrap up and conclusion (Your goal is to move the listener to action. You want them to want to hear more based on the pitch you just shared. Next actions can be as simple as a referral, a next meeting or a request for an email with more info. Who knows, they may even suggest the next action for you.)
Do some research for events in your area that allow entrepreneurs to present their elevator pitches for feedback. You can participate or attend as an observer; either way is an effective method to improve your skills. Also, visit YouTube to view a huge selection of elevator pitch deliveries that are amazingly good and amazingly bad, all great learning tools!
Lastly, practice, practice, practice. There is nothing less impressive than a budding entrepreneur or an existing employee who can’t express what their company actually does. Make sure the listener walks away from your elevator pitch understanding what it is you do, why you do it and why they should even care! Once you determine what your core pitch should be, share it with your partners, co-workers and employees and help them deliver the message that you want them to share. Successful entrepreneurs have a strong consistent message that they can deliver to anyone at any time. Good luck giving the perfect pitch!
– Dina Finta is Executive Director of the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership