Selling Your Elevator Pitch

It’s the informative, memorable summary of what you do, or hope to do, that you can rattle off in 30 seconds, while the elevator moves between floors. The elevator pitch is meant to attract customers, inspire potential partners, and interest investors, while rolling off your tongue in a casual, confident, unrehearsed way. Easier said than done.

The term itself – elevator pitch – calls to mind less-than-comfortable images of aggressive entrepreneurs. But there’s no need to present yourself and your business using high-pressure tactics. While the elevator pitch is a sales pitch of a sort, it’s a presentation of fact and an invitation to engage, not an annoying come-on. It’s part of a conversation, not a television commercial.

Star Jones, IAW spokesperson, outlines some great tips for framing and building an elevator pitch in her video. Enjoy watching it, and read on for a few more tips.

Blank Slate

The first thing to do is clear your head for a moment. Forget all the successes and failures, plans and hopes, dreams and fears you may associate with your business. Now try to sum up what your business does in one sentence. Keep it as short as possible, perhaps 35 words. But make those words count. Get right to the point. Use strong action words, verbs that invoke images:

  • Identify and tackle communications problems.
  • Expose and uproot inefficiencies.
  • Conquer complex tax filing systems.

“I research, write, and edit articles for newspapers, magazines, and website about ways professional women can connect with each other and learn to better their business practices.”

No, “research, write, and edit” are not superhero terms, but most people know what they mean and can picture someone researching, writing, and editing.

Simple, Bold, Subtle

Avoid technical or industry-specific jargon unless you’re sure your audience knows what it means. People tend to use shorthand words and acronyms among their industry peers, and some use these terms as a way of sounding smarter. In reality it turns off your listener.

“I like an engaging lede, informative nutgraph, and poppy kicker.”

Journalists will know what that means, but most others won’t. What we should say is: “I like an engaging opening sentence, informative paragraph summing up the issue, and memorable quote at the end.”

There is no reason to be shy in your elevator pitch. It’s the moment to present who you are and what you do. At the same time, you’re simply opening the door. If the audience isn’t interested in walking in, well, that’s fine. The more that elevator pitch comes off as a desperate, once-in-a-lifetime callout the less likely someone is to be interested.

Set the Hook

If we learned one thing from the long-running TV show Mad Men, it’s that the best advertisements don’t feel like advertisements at all. They present an agreeable situation or pleasing scenario. After we’ve made our statements of fact about what we do, we set the hook like any good fisherman: not too late, not too soon, not too hard, not too tentatively.

”I always thought I could prepare taxes better than the big companies; now I prove it every spring with my own company.”

“I met all these brave women entrepreneurs looking for community; now I tell their stories and help them connect.”

To truly set the hook, maybe add something to put the ball back in their hands, like, “I’m happy to tell you more if you are interested.”

Speak Up

Once you know what you want to say, it’s absolutely vital that you say it, and say it clearly. If those words are mumbled or swallowed it doesn’t matter how well they were crafted. Remember, this is a very brief presentation – maybe 30 seconds. Even one or two unintelligible words carry much more weight than whole paragraphs in a 30-minute presentation.

Give it a try in front of the mirror. Make eye contact with yourself and casually explain what you do and why it’s important.

Excited about trying out your elevator pitch? Join us at a local chapter meeting and test it out! IAW monthly in-person meetings or virtual webinars provide an opportunity to learn and grow while also staying connected to other professional women. Connect with your local chapter today!

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