Effective Elevator Pitch

We have all seen some TV program where someone has to deliver a message to an audience to gain some investment (Dragon’s Den / Shark Tank).

Some deliveries look terrible and some are amazing but do not underestimate the art of saying a lot, in limited time; convincing and influencing others; delivering in a fluid coherent manner.

These skills are not limited to TV, but are evident day-to-day in work.  In Dan Pink’s book: “To Sell is Human – The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing and Influencing Others”, he states, “People are now spending 40 percent of their time at work engaged in non-selling – persuading, influencing and convincing others that don’t involve anyone making a purchase.  We are devoting twenty-four minutes of every hour to moving others”. So convincing others, is becoming a key activity on a daily basis.

Living in a world shaped by attention span deficiency (meaning we do not have a lot of time to listen to a convincing argument) the art of saying a lot in a short time is a key skill for many to develop so here are my four steps for an effective elevator pitch.  Why an elevator pitch?  Imagine, you get into a lift with your boss, and you are going together to floor seven, which takes say three minutes.  How could you convince your boss on some position / idea you have within that short period of time?

Elevator pitchIdentify what you want to achieve

At this step, think about the bigger picture and view the problem holistically. Make sure that you identify the key messages to be delivered during your pitch.  Identify what messages you want to present and re-enforce, but equally what not to dwell on.  This requires a disciplined approach but ensures that the message remains highly focussed.

Understand your target.  Focus on solving the needs of the target audience.  Your pitch should not solve your problems alone, but should identify how you are going to solve problems from other people’s.

Consider what aspects of your pitch will interest the audience.  They all have their individual areas of interest and you need to identify how you can meet all their needs.

Be prepared.  Gather all the materials and evidence that you need to support your message.  Make sure that you do your research and come prepared.  You may need to talk to other and  can only be done in advance of the pitch to support step 1 of the process.

Practice.  Nothing prepares you for delivering an effective elevator pitch, than practicing.  The act of getting the message delivered in a short period of time is not an easy task and takes careful consideration and masterful delivery and aim to get your message across in a short period of time – aim for four minutes.  Questions and answers are additional, but the focus is not on the length of the delivery, but the quality of the message.

  • Believe in what you are saying. Maintaining authenticity will show in the delivery.  If an urgent decision is required, stress the point and explain why, but avoid continuous repetition to maintain the audience’s attention.
  • Maintain eye contact. This creates engagement and means that you avoid reading from a script.
  • The use of visual aids or a computer-based presentation may not always be possible, so the congruence between your message and your body language is important.
  • Be flexible and react to what you are listening to. If concerns are raised address them and ask if the question has been addressed.  Ensure that the discussions do not move away from the central point that you want to get across.  If this does occur, park the issue and deal with at a later stage.
  • At the end of the pitch, ask for questions and prepare for this in advance. Remember to consider the responses from the audience’s perspective.
  • Stick to the time you have set yourself and as soon as you go over this, you will lose the attention of the audience.
  • Finally thank your audience and follow-up to affirm the next steps.
  • Practising delivery is important and presenting to a mirror allows you to observe yourself in action. When you are comfortable with your delivery consider a dry run with a colleague.   They will pick up points that you have overlooked.
  • Remember that the message you want to deliver is important so nothing replaces practise and preparation to ensure that the delivery is effective.


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