What in the heck is going on with elevator pitches these days?! It seems like anyone who’s been “taught” how to give an elevator pitch (i.e. humiliated into submission) is either
1. Terrified to give their elevator pitch — exhibited by a shaky voice and stuttering, or
2. So distraught by what people have said to them that they feel they have to correct everyone else.
So, in my attempt to return some dignity to all of those who have been harassed about their elevator pitch, I am going to present my top priorities when working on a pitch. What will happen if you forget one of these items when you’re introducing yourself? Nothing. Can you still gain that person as a client? Yes. Which is worse, leaving out a line of your pitch or sounding unsure of yourself? Sounding unsure. I advise you to get comfortable with a good elevator pitch and then work on making it great. When you start off saying something too scripted, you’ll get lost.
Moriah’s 7 tips for a giving a good elevator pitch:
1. Go second so that you can cater your pitch to the person you’re speaking with. Keep in mind that even if they’re not an obvious person to network with that they may know someone who is, and if they like what you have to say that they could introduce you to them.
2. Start with your name and the company your with. Sometimes, the company you’re with is complicated. If that’s the case, put what you do or the type of company it is into a short phrase. For example, sometimes, when I talk to people, it would complicate things to say I work at The FENDER Music Foundation, so I just say I “run a nonprofit that supports music education,” and if even that is too complicated, I say I “run a nonprofit.”
3. Give a few sentences about your business as it pertains to this person. What do they need to know about you from their perspective? What can you do for them? For example, I would say something different to a potential donor, a potential business partner as well as a potential grant recipient.
4. The elevator pitch should be conversational and short. It should use your language. Keep in mind that what you would write in a brochure about your company is very different than how you should say it. What you say is often more casual than what you write.
5. Don’t give your business card to someone unless they ask for it, and feel free to ask for cards from people unless there is no way you would ever do business with them. Everyone else could be a good contact even if you don’t know yet how you’ll use him or her. And, sometimes I even ask for a card so I can make note that they are not someone I would work with.
6. Don’t end the conversation at your elevator pitch. Use this as an opportunity to get to know someone. Get a good idea of who they are and what they do before you go your separate ways.
7. Just because you know how to give an elevator pitch doesn’t mean you should harass those who are less successful. Give them a break! Anything you say will only traumatize them more and make it worse!
Moriah’s tip for a great elevator pitch:
1. There are a billion books that include at least one chapter on elevator pitches. Read a few of them and use the advice you feel comfortable with. It won’t work for you if you are going to feel uneasy doing or saying it. And, don’t trust the interpretations of people who have already read these books; read them on your own.