The art of the elevator pitch

Carmine Gallo in HBR:

According to molecular biologist John Medina of the University of Washington School of Medicine, the human brain craves meaning before details. When a listener doesn’t understand the overarching idea being presented in a pitch, they have a hard time digesting the information. A logline will help you paint the big picture for your audience.

In Hollywood cinema, one of the greatest loglines of all time belongs to the iconic thriller that kept kids out of the ocean during the summer of 1975:

A police chief, with a phobia for open water, battles a gigantic shark with an appetite for swimmers and boat captains, in spite of a greedy town council who demands that the beach stay open.

What makes it work?

The logline for Jaws identifies the key elements of the story: the hero, his weakness, his conflict, and the hurdles he must overcome — all in one sentence. It depicts the overarching storyline in an interesting, straightforward way, rather than focusing on details that might seem meaningless without the context of the bigger picture.

More here.

Real-world elevator pitches

A source of many “real-world” elevator pitches, such as the following:

clipped from advisorgarage.wordpress.com

buji is seeking both investors and certified fund-raising professionals in providing/securing a $3 million equity contribution to allow the company to extend its premier poison ivy product line into an expanded portfolio of active-body skin care products, focused on preventing common skin care conditions of active consumers. Market research, consumer trends and intuitive knowledge all reaffirm the business opportunity for establishing the first naturally-based active lifestyle skin care line in the mass market. The company, which was formed in July 2004 and has distribution at Rite Aid, REI and other accounts, is seeking its first equity capital raise. The company, which operates on an outsourcing platform, has been founder funded and financed and is seeking this infusion to expand its product line, grow distribution and fund marketing and operations.

Your elevator speech… the final frontier…

We all remember the opening lines of our favorite TV shows. Well, idea-sandbox recommends that we find inspiration in them for our elevator speech.

It can be challenging to boil down what you do into a short blurb… For inspiration, I suggest paying attention to the 30-second narrations at the beginning of TV shows. At the start of each episode producers deliver the swift backstory and premise of the show. If this was our first viewing, we would understand what makes the show worth attention.

This is EXACTLY what you need for YOUR elevator pitch… What’s your 30-second blurb? Your backstory that builds awareness of the premise of you (or your project, company, etc…) and lets me know why you’re worth my attention?

Great website on the elevator speech

This is a commercial site appropriately called Elevatorspeech.net. Check out their Case studies and entertaining videos.

These items provide a good overview of what an elevator speech is and what it is for [Hint: what do you do? and why would anyone care?].

Full disclosure: I hold no stock nor stake in the company.

 

Excellent guide to prepare your elevator speech

An elevator speech is as essential as a business card. You need to be able to say who you are, what you do, what you are interested in doing and how you can be a resource to your listeners. If you donʹt have an elevator speech, people wonʹt know what you really do.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE- Before writing any part of your elevator speech, research your audience. You will be much more likely to succeed if your elevator speech is clearly targeted at the individuals you are speaking to. Having a ʹgenericʹ elevator pitch is almost certain to fail.

KNOW YOURSELF – Before you can convince anyone of your proposition you need to know exactly what it is. You need to define precisely what you are offering, what problems you can solve and what benefits you bring to a prospective contact or employers.

Answer the following questions:
1. What are your key strengths?
2. What adjectives come to mind to describe you?
3. What is it you are trying to ʹsellʹ or let others know about you?
4. Why are you interested in the company or industry the person represents?

OUTLINE YOUR TALK – start an outline of your material using bullet points. You donʹt need to add any detail at this stage; simply write a few notes to help remind you of what you really want to say. They don’t need to be complete sentences.

You can use the following questions to start your outline:
1. Who am I?
2. What do I offer?
3. What problem is solved?
4. What are the main contributions I can make?
5. What should the listener do as a result of hearing this?

FINALIZE YOUR SPEECH – Now that you have your outline of your material, you can finalize the speech. The key to doing this is to expand on the notes you made by writing out each section in full.

To help you do this, follow these guidelines:
1. Take each note you made and write a sentence about it.
2. Take each of the sentences and connect them together with additional phrases to make them flow.
3. Go through what you have written and change any long words or jargon into everyday language.
4. Go back through the re-written material and cut out unnecessary words.
5. Finalize your speech by making sure it is no more than 90 words long.

(source is a pdf file)