Last week I attended a networking meetup called BNI, which stands for Business Networking International. I was filling in for a friend who was on vacation and, since I’m always up for new opportunities to promote my business and connect with other professionals, I eagerly jumped at the chance to attend. We met bright and early (6:45AM to be exact!) with the sole purpose of networking and identifying ways we can help elevate each other’s business.
I was impressed with the amount of public speaking every individual was required to participate in and believe that is one of the most effective ways to hone presentation skills. Each attendee was required to stand in front of the group and deliver a 60 second elevator pitch describing who they are, what they do, what separates them from industry competitors, along with their target client and ideal referral. There is even a person designated to a timer who raises a yellow flag when you’ve hit the 30 second mark and a red flag signaling to stop when your minute is up, which really forces the presenter to streamline their pitch and be acutely aware of timing.
It’s so important to be able to articulately speak about yourself and what it is you do in a short amount of time, ultimately sparking someone’s interest to continue the conversation. The term “elevator pitch” refers to a quick summary describing what your organization specializes in and reflects the concept that you should be able to deliver the speech in the time span of an elevator ride. Even if you’re a student and haven’t joined the workforce yet, remember that you are the CEO of your personal brand so having an elevator pitch ready-to-go is just as important!
So what makes a compelling elevator pitch? I’ve outlined six tips below that will enable you to create an effective speech. Practice makes perfect, so work on your elevator pitch and let me know how it goes!
6 Tips to Creating an Effective Elevator Pitch
1. Develop a list of key messages.
If you’ve ever worked in the communications/PR industry, you’re certainly no stranger to key messages! Develop a set of key messages (no more than 4 concise points) that illustrate who you are professionally and the value that your business or organization brings to the marketplace.
2. Keep it short.
The standard elevator pitch is no longer than 1 minute. However, if you can go under 1 minute and keep it to 45 seconds, even better! To keep your pitch short, each word and statement must have a purpose and map back to your key messages. So be purposeful and strategic in what you have to say!
3. Get straight to business.
An elevator pitch isn’t the appropriate time to talk about the movie you saw over the weekend or your favorite sports team winning a game. By veering off-topic, you will lose your audience’s attention so get straight to business and focus on what you do and how your organization can help who you are speaking to. One of my favorite quotes that illustrates how to make an important point is from Winston Churchill – “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”
4. Be Able To Tailor It To Your Audience.
Know your audience! Who are you delivering your elevator pitch to? By identifying your audience and understanding their unique needs, you will be able to tailor the content and make it relevant to them. Why should people care about what you do? A good elevator pitch will spark investment from the listener and make them care.
5. Identify your Point of Difference.
What separates you from the competition? Let’s say you’re a personal trainer. How does your technique of personal training or approach to fitness differ from your competitors? Identifying your Point of Difference is crucial to standing out in a sometimes over-saturated market and finding your unique brand voice.
6. Be confident!
Speaking in front of a crowd can be scary and nerve-wracking (I’m sure Tony Robbins and Joel Osteen still get the butterflies before speaking at sold-out stadiums in front of thousands…at least I hope they do a little bit!) but remember that confidence is key! If you do not radiate confidence in yourself or abilities, no one else will!