From the Founder

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Hold That Door! 7 Rules for an Elevator Pitch

By: Ivan Misner, Ph.D
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    From the Founder

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    Ivan Misner, Ph.D

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I used to hate the expression: "Elevator Pitch" − it just drove me crazy. But everybody is using it all over the world, so I officially give up − I'm going to go with it!

The expression developed out of the idea that you are literally in an elevator with only one minute or less to say who you are and what you do. What would you say? I want you to keep in mind that your elevator pitch is not a sales pitch . . . it is a creative and succinct way to share who you are and what you do that will generate interest in the listener.

With that in mind, here are my rules for creating an engaging Elevator Pitch: 

  1. Don't do your pitch in an elevator! An unsolicited pitch in an elevator is basically face-to-face cold calling.  I’ve been a victim.  Don’t be a perpetrator.  Unless someone asks what you do, just say good day to them. The elevator pitch is meant to be taken out of the elevator and into the right environment.
  2. Make it tight.  It needs to be short. This is a quick pitch not a reading from War and Peace. Your pitch should be more like a work of art than a science project.  It should be succinct and expressive. It is something you must practice carefully to be able to present cohesively and professionally.  You also need to be natural. You want to rehearse but not sound rehearsed. You want to avoid sounding staged and canned. 
  3. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. Don't try to explain everything you do in the short amount of time you have. It will either be too much information (breaking rule number 2) or it will be too vague to be of any value. By keeping your elevator pitch simple, you have more of a chance to catch the listener's attention, engage them with your creativity, and create interest in your product or service.  
  4. Don’t use jargon.  If at any point someone has to say, “what does that mean?” you have officially lost them.  Push the button for the next floor and exit now (I know, you’re not really on an elevator – however, you have really lost them).
  5. Share your USP. A USP is your Unique Selling Proposition.  It can serve you well in your Elevator Pitch. One example of how to craft a pithy USP is to compare a bland, general statement such as “I’m a coach and consultant” to saying something like “I help people work less, make more, and create referrals for life” instead.  This is short, powerful, and informative − the perfect combination for part of an effective Elevator Pitch.
  6. When crafting your Elevator Pitch, consider starting out with precisely how your listener will benefit. My friend, Andy Bounds, calls this the "Afters." For your Elevator Pitch, this could be something as simple as, "I help people increase their sales by 33%, improve their closing ratio to 80%, or double the number of new clients they take on per month.” Focus on the “After” of the product or service you provide.
  7. Pass the eyebrow test. Another good friend, Sam Horn, author of Someday is Not a Day of the Week, and Pop!, writes about the eyebrow test. When you give your Elevator Pitch watch the listeners eyebrows.  If what you say in your Elevator Pitch, causes the listener's eyebrows to go up, you've got 'em! By doing this, you literally will leave the listener wanting more, and that's precisely what you want your Elevator Pitch to do.   On the other hand, if the listener’s eyebrows scrunch down – you’ve just confused them.  Find a new pitch. Keeping these seven rules in mind when you create an Elevator Pitch will set you apart from the crowd. It's time to press "Open Door" and step on out of the elevator do your pitch.

Keeping these seven rules in mind when you create an Elevator Pitch will set you apart from the crowd. It's time to press "Open Door" and step on out of the elevator do your pitch.