Crafting a great and effective elevator pitch is an art. It is a daunting one for certain, but becoming a master at elevator pitches can make the difference between engaging an audience or having it doze off as you introduce your company or services. You want to be engaging. You want to be unique. Most importantly, you want to be you.
For those unfamiliar with the term, an elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name. It is a very brief, concise and persuasive speech useful for introducing what your organisation does, and sometimes to generate interest in a project or idea.
While elevator pitches are generally useful for networking events, they can be employed in any kind of occasion, from meetings to client presentations and pitches. Writers will find them particularly close to the art of copywriting – if anything because they should almost always be written and never improvised, and they deal with matters of value, benefits, USPs and the like.
Image credit: VCCP for Dairylea
How to create an effective and engaging elevator pitch
As mentioned, creating an elevator pitch can be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to start. You should keep in mind that it is, after all, a pitch – a short speech to spark interest in what you do. For that reason, it may be difficult to put yourself in the shoes of a potential audience – especially if you haven’t done so before.
If you have a writer in your team or professional network (and you should), they will be the absolute best person to craft an elevator pitch for you.You can work closely together to brainstorm and understand what you need to achieve, but even then, you may feel lost as to where to go next. Here’s our top 5 tips on how to craft the perfect elevator pitch in mere minutes.
1. Understand your goals
You should keep in mind that elevator pitches are almost never the chance to secure a deal or make a sale. That job is for your team, website or general marketing assets. But it is about securing your prospect’s undivided attention and time, albeit for just a few minutes.
Before you dive deep into writing your elevator pitch, you should understand what you are trying to achieve with it. There should always be a clear goal in mind – lest you risk the pitch sounding too vague, out of scope, or unfocused. Are you trying to redirect people to your website or would you like to schedule a follow-up conversation? Whatever your goal or intention, it will help to put it down in writing and rule out any unnecessary aim.
2. Identify the benefits
What’s in it for your audience? As mentioned, preparing an elevator pitch is a lot about copywriting – you need to identify not only your USP, but the unique benefits for your audience as well. Why would they want to get in touch with you? Why should they care?
Studying your target audience is a necessary preliminary step and it can make a big difference when delivering your speech. If you’re pitching your packaging specialism to a client looking for a Christmas animated ad, you’re clearly out of scope. Take some time to build personas and really think about the people who are going to listen to your pitch before you even start writing the first word.
An elevator pitch is really a lot like copywriting. Image credit: Among Equals
3. Start with a hook
If you go straight into the story of your company, your audience will disconnect in a matter of seconds. Moreover, if you are simply speaking to another person, you risk sounding mechanical and fake. You want to sound genuine and human. You don’t want to break the immersion for them. This is why you should start with an engaging hook.
Certainly the receiving end will know that you spent some time on your elevator pitch, but the best hooks won’t make them realise so until it’s too late and they’ve already listened to everything you had to say. Storytelling can help a lot here. The most effective hooks present a problem in the form of a story, to which your company or services will be a solution. If your listener can relate with the problem you’re describing or the questions you’re asking, they will become more involved – and they will be keen to listen to what you have to say.
4. Tell a Story
Presumably, by having identified your main USP and benefit, and by having studied your target audience, it will be easy to understand where to go next. Use storytelling to present your company and your main values, and have your listener(s) understand what truly drives your business choices. What got you into advertising in the first place? How can the audience connect with you?
Remember that you don’t have time to write or tell a full novel, so everything you say must count and have a clear purpose in your pitch. You most certainly won’t be able to say everything about how your business started, but you can probably tell an anecdote from your childhood and connect it to what you are doing now. Few people will truly care about your life story – but if you can match their aspirations, desires and general mindsets, they will connect with you in no time.
Image credit: Christopher Doyle
5. Close with a call-to-action
This is where it all comes together: how you close a pitch is just as important as how you open it. If your hook was strong but your conclusion is vague, your listener will feel lost and they won’t know what to do next. They may ask you, but 9 times out of 10, that won’t be what you want. This is why it’s best to end with a call-to-action or a question.
Remember that this is not the place or time to sell a product or close a deal. This is the time to start a conversation and begin a potential business relationship. It is the time to generate interest to follow up later. Your call-to-action should be simple – and it may be as simple as asking to exchange contact details, scheduling a follow-up meeting or putting a call in each other’s calendar. Keep it focused and clear – and you are certain to see the results of your hard work on your elevator pitch.
Be mindful that it’s unlikely that you will get it right the first time. It may feel overwhelming to think about all this, and you may feel frustration if your first elevator pitches don’t really land as intended. The best thing you can do is pick yourself up again, change your approach, and keep trying until you find what works for you.
Also, make sure to practice with a timer or in front of another person you trust. Being pressed on time means that we tend to speak faster and trip on our own words. Practice speaking clearly, slowly and with confidence. Be humble at all times, and most importantly, be yourself.
Copywriting is a tough business if you’re only used to working visually, and this is why an elevator pitch will sound daunting to a lot of you reading this piece. But don’t worry; everything can be mastered with enough practice. Write as many versions of your elevator pitch as you can, practice and practice and practice until you are absolutely certain you can’t improve it any more.