Seneca once said that “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” I truly believe that we can help luck along by being prepared for opportunity when it knocks.
And one of the must-have tools in our storytelling arsenal is the infamous Elevator Pitch – or the “Quickpitch” as I often dub it. And you never know where the opportunity might knock – at a networking event, in an Uber Pool, or even in line for coffee at Starbucks.
If you find yourself conversing with someone who could be a potential investor/user/partner/connector – are you ready to pitch them in a fast, powerful way?
I heard the amazing Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube speak this year, and she said that it usually takes people about 15 minutes to explain to her what they do and what the value is. If they can’t do that in a minute, they’ve lost her.
And Susan is not alone… In an age of pervasive ADD and Smartphones, if we haven’t grabbed someone’s attention in 30 seconds (some might argue 10) then we’ve blown the opportunity.
Just stating what you do or what your company does in complex or boring terms can bring the conversation to a screeching – and awkward – halt.
So here comes the preparation part. There are actually 3 elevator pitches that you should have handy and here’s how to get them ready to go:
I coached the pitches for the Elevator World Tour where 100 startups get the opportunity to pitch investors in an elevator competing for a sizable cash price.
This has taken place in Paris, Toronto, Tel Aviv and more – and always in a very tall building where the time from ground floor to top and down again was an average of 1 minute 26 seconds.
So for me that’s a good rule of thumb – have about a minute prepares with room for about 30 seconds of Q & A.
And what’s in it? The Problem you are solving + Your Solution + Some staggering fact about the market or something amazing you’ve accomplished.
That’s it! The hope is that you will have grabbed their interest and now they are intrigued, asking questions and continuing the conversation.
This is what usually happens at a Networking event, people milling around, chitchatting and the phrase “so what do you do?” is the star of the evening.
Here you have about 20 seconds to grab them. And the content? Here’s the beautiful part – THE SAME! Problem + Solution + Intriguing fact – but condensed.
And no – it’s not your Elevator Pitch at warp speed, it’s a shorter, yet powerful version.
Imagine that you were at a conference and you see Mark Zuckerberg walking past you and you have the perfect company for a Facebook acquisition.
Zuck’s not going to stand around waiting as you hem and haw – you have to give him the bottom line up front – the hook.
What does he stand to gain by associating with you? I would create about 6-7 different “Eyeblinks” and have them ready to go at a moment’s notice to the right person.
If pitching to an investor or a potential user, change it slightly to make the pain more personal to them.
While an investor might be more interested in the pain of users and how it will make money, a potential user resonates more with how it can make their lives better. The overriding structure would stay the same.
Create your Elevator Pitches, then create a few versions of each, get out there and practice, practice and practice on anyone and everyone.
And, make sure your entire team knows how to give a great elevator pitch – they will need to – believe me!
The more comfortable you all feel giving them the better they will get then the more you can get creative and change it up to match different people on the fly, when it matters most.
Donna Griffit is a Corporate Storyteller and Pitch Alchemist for startups who, over 14 years, has helped hundreds of startups and VC’s around the world raise hundreds of millions of dollars by creating stellar pitches and investment materials that compel and propel.