Applying the art of the elevator pitch to a video intro or resume

First things first: what is it? So named because it’s short enough to be given during an elevator ride, say 30-60 seconds, the elevator pitch is a brief summary of what good or service your company provides. While an expertly delivered elevator pitch can potentially open the door to deeper dialogue or the exchanging of business cards, it’s important that your initial speech is not a sales pitch. The purpose of your pitch is to solicit questions and invite further interaction, not to make your listener feel like he or she is being sold something. In its essence, an elevator pitch is your chance to pique someone’s interest.

What makes the perfect elevator pitch? There are a number of stylistic and content-based elements of a good pitch, many of them subject to personal taste and variable between industries. One thing is for sure: if you’re working on your business plan, it’s time to start thinking about your pitch. Here are some guidelines to get you started:

Consider leading off with a question. For example, someone representing our venture might say: “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a service that allowed you to collaborate with business partners over video, instead of emails or phone calls?(wait for your listener to respond and add…) My company, 1stintro.com…” An alternative might be: “Do you ever feel like, no matter how well-written your cover letter or impressive your resume, you find it hard to catch a potential employer’s attention?” (again wait for your listener to respond and add…) “My company, 1stintro.com…” Leading off with a question helps your listener feel like your pitch is relevant to his or her interests, and encourages attentive listening. Doing your research helps, too. Knowing a few details about your listener before you begin the pitch helps give you a better idea of what he or she is looking for. The key is to find out what your listener’s problem or need is, and then pitch how your company is the solution.

Once your lead off has grabbed your listener’s attention, it’s important that the language of your pitch continue to hold that attention. Tell your listener what your company does in one sentence — for example, “My company, Umbrellas R Us, provides umbrellas with steel frames made to withstand extreme weather elements such as strong winds or hail.” Your description should be clear and concise, and your language should be specific and easy to understand. Avoid using buzzwords or jargon specific to the industry; they can cause your listener to zone out and wonder what you mean by a phrase like “integrated weather solutions.” The industry you’re working in is undoubtedly complex, but its important not to unload that complexity on to your listener. When in doubt, just remember to KISS (keep it short & simple)!

The next thing on your list should be to provide differentiation. What makes your steel umbrellas better than your competitor’s? Are yours lighter? Have they performed better in side-by-side testing? If you’ve previously worked for a competitor before starting your own venture, or if your two companies have worked together at some point, don’t be afraid to bring this up. It lends credibility to your experience and shows that you are familiar with the industry. Another great way to provide differentiation is to discuss your history. Tell your story, including challenges you’ve faced in the past, how you overcame them, and how what you learned from the experience benefitted you and your company. Storytelling is one of the most basic ways we connect with one another, and a provoking narrative can help you connect with your listener.

One of the best ways to guarantee your pitch will lead to further communication is to have a specific call to action. Tell your listener exactly what you want from them (mentioning what you’re willing to provide in return, of course). By engaging your listener directly and asking them for something, you’re compelling them to give you an answer. This increases your chances of constructing a dialogue that continues once the pitch is over.

Finally, you have to know when to stop. Remember that your mission is to provoke a sense of intrigue, to make your listener want to know more and strike up a dialogue. It’s important for you to become the listener at some point. The old sales adage of, Always Be Closing (ABC), has been replaced with, Always Be Listening (ABL).

Once you’ve written your pitch, you’ve got to practice, practice, practice. Try to avoid writing a script, because your pitch should be tailored to your audience and situation. Instead, create an outline and practice working from that, making sure you hit your key points but still leave room to customize the pitch as needed. Keep working at it until you sound natural; practice in front of the mirror until you are relaxed enough to maintain a sense of composure and professionalism, but still let the passion you have for your business shine through. Once you’re happy with your mirror rehearsal, the next step is to take it live! Present your pitch to your family and friends, and ask them for honest feedback. They can give you pointers on body language, tone, and most of all, content. Do they understand what your company does? Do they understand what you’re looking for from your listener? Most importantly, would they be interested in a potential business venture with you?

The last item on your checklist should be to prepare yourself for questions. Your elevator pitch is designed to begin a conversation, so be sure to do your research. Know your industry, know your business, and know your audience. The last thing you want is to deliver a great pitch, get your listener interested enough to ask you some questions, and find yourself unable to answer. Be prepared.

Crafting the perfect elevator pitch may seem like a daunting task, but its really quite simple. If you feel overwhelmed, try and incorporate two or three of our suggestions, keep in mind that confidence and charisma both go a long way, and above all, remember to KISS.

Abstract Transformations is a Melbourne-based company helping graduates and professionals with Employment and Migration Solutions. Get in touch with our team today at info@abstractt.com.au or give us a call at +61 416 943 396. Our team of experts and Career Advocates help direct your career on the right track with solutions that are specifically curated to your needs.

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