“You have 60 seconds….GO”: 5 Tips to Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
I have a very strange relationship with the following words: ‘What do you for a living?’
They say if you’re not passionate about your business then you’re doing it wrong. Well I’m certainly doing something right; if you get me talking about my work, it’s hard to shut me up. I love discussing my work and debating the use of Social Media for businesses is a favourite past time. Chatting about creating Wordpress websites, the best plugins to use, the latest video conferencing or voting app, the networks I run and the amazing people I’ve met through them… I could go on and on,but I won’t.
However, that initial moment when a new, potentially valuable connection is standing in front of me and they’ve uttered the words ‘What do you do for a living?’ my first reaction is always sheer fright. I am the proverbial deer in the head lights.
It’s as if all of my own fears about myself as legitimate business person flood straight to my brain. As if the next few words out of my mouth must be super impressive or I’ve lost the person’s interest.
Yesterday morning, I had to do a 60 second elevator pitch this morning to a group of 20 extremely successful business people, on one small element of my business. And I must say, because I had to think about how to explain this to someone AND keep them interested within a time limit of 60 seconds it forced me to really analyse it; to look at it from a ‘muggles’ point of view. After all not everyone fully understands the concept of Social Media. There are still quite a few out there who believe it’s merely for selfies, pictures of food and the occasional cloud. Trying to explain to these people how I make a living from this is challenging to say the least. But doable. l left that meeting this morning feeling confident I had at least opened up a few minds.
Trust me; I’m going somewhere with this!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, whether it’s being asked to stand and introduce yourself or being asked that dreaded question in a networking environment. So I have some tips:
1. Prepare. If you know you’re going to a networking event and you know there is a possibility of you having to stand and speak, then prepare, prepare and prepare some more. Now I don’t mean you take hours to write a speech. You can practice in the car on the way there! Time yourself using the clock in your car. If you do have time, write down a few notes about your business and then take out the most important points. You’ll be surprised how easily it is to condense it. Also, get used to sound of your own voice. Say it out loud a few times and listen. When you go to speak then you shouldn’t be as nervous.
2. Be yourself. Don’t pretend. OK so we all fake it a little until we make it right? But you still have to be true to who you are. You want to come across as natural and confident. If you’re not being yourself it’ll show.
3. DO NOT READ FROM A SCRIPT. Just because you don’t have a piece of paper in front of you (which is a big no-no btw!) you can still sound too rehearsed and robot like. Yes, be sure of what you want to say. Sometimes that does mean memorising sentences and phrases and the sequence of such. But don’t be afraid to deviate. It’ll sound much more natural if you do.
4. Breathe! You can spend hours timing yourself at home and think you have it down to the last second. Then when you actually do it, you’re left with extra time. That’s because we tend to speed up our speech when we’re nervous. Most people just want it out of the way. I used to do this every time! Now I make myself take a slight pause between sentences. It gives me a second to think of the next words and also gives your audience a moment for the words to sink in. Even if you’re tied to time restraints a teeny break now and then will make it seem more natural and help keep your points sharp and concise.
5. Hook them! I have found that by asking a question forces my audience to connect with what I’m saying. Gets them thinking. Grabs their attention. Then you answer the question; of course making sure your business is the solution.
If you do these type of pitches often enough it’ll eventually come second nature to you. One of things I feel is invaluable in any business is the ability to describe what you do in a few short sentences. If you can’t do it about your own business, then how do you expect others to understand? The key is to make yourself and your business memorable. Stick in a Call to Action at the end and you’ll be unforgettable.