Elevator Pitches: How Would You Describe Your Product In 90 Seconds?
Mastering the art of delivering an effective elevator pitch can make or break you as an entrepreneur. From pitching your product to a potential customer, to convincing a key investor to come on board, or pitching your idea to a business partner, there’s a lot on the line when it’s time to make a pitch.
While there’s certainly a set of best practices and time-tested guidelines from countless great examples, putting together a strong elevator pitch isn’t as simple as just following a formula and filling in the blanks. It’s an art, not a science. Sure, the details of your product and existing traction matter, but your pitch needs to dig much deeper. If you can build a meaningful connection with your audience around shared principles and goals, then the stage is already set for success.
Robert Herjavec, serial entrepreneur and investor on ABC’s Shark Tank, has heard thousands of elevator pitches throughout his career. When asked about what sets a winning pitch apart from the rest, he says timing and momentum are everything.
“You have 90 seconds if you’re lucky,” Herjavec shares. “If you can’t make your point persuasively in that time, you’ve lost the chance for impact. Facts and figures are important, but it’s not the only criteria, you must present in a manner that generates expertise and confidence.
Recent studies show that the average adult attention span has dropped to around 8 seconds—with the natural reflex to check notifications on our smartphones picking up pace. Couple that with the fact that most people subconsciously form opinions about people within the first seven seconds of an interaction, and it’s clear that you have a very short window of time to make a powerful impression with your elevator pitch.
How Do You Craft The Perfect Pitch?
- Recognize You Need More Than One Elevator Pitch: Most entrepreneurs try to condense everything they want to say about their business into just a few words. It’s always better to have several versions of your elevator pitch. Your pitch should comprise of what problem you are trying to solve, by providing an advantage, to help your target group accomplish their goals. For example, Savage & Palmer is a boutique financial services firm which helps Startups, SMEs as well as Corporates by providing Manpower Solutions for Accounting and Financial Reporting.
- Prepare Different Lengths Of Your Pitches: How long is an elevator ride anyway? Having several lengths of pitches can ensure you are always successful in getting your message across, without any embarrassing silences, or mumbling to race the words off of your tongue.
- Keep It Simple: There may be situations in which you should be using industry-specific technical jargon. However, in the majority of cases, you want your pitch to be extremely simple. You need to make sure the average person with no knowledge of your industry can understand what you do, how you do it, and how you are better than your competitors.
- Know Your USP: Make sure you highlight what is unique and different about your product, service or company. You need to be different in order to deserve attention.
- Be Prepared To Answer Questions: Make sure you have thought of the questions you are most likely to get after delivering your pitch. If you are successful in gaining their attention, then you need to be able to back up your claims. How are you achieving this? How can you add value? How are you better than ‘XYZ’ competitor?
- Practice Your Delivery: The elevator pitch is what gets you into your target’s cabin. It creates a first impression. You need to be able to grasp his attention with the first couple of lines of your pitch. It’s worth practicing. You can bet your favourite music artist invests in a voice coach. Your favourite athletes spend hours rehearsing their most notable feats. Do put in some thought, practice and even get feedback on it. You may even want to record yourself, listen to it, and work on improving your pitch. The more you practice, the more naturally confident you will be.
Most entrepreneurs aren’t letting themselves down with their elevator pitch because they don’t know what their value proposition is or who it is for. They just rush out a couple of lines to introduce themselves and forget the importance of tailoring it in length and substance for the current context. Others just fail to keep it simple enough, aren’t prepared for it to actually work and turn into an opportunity, or simply haven’t practiced it enough.
Critical factors of a powerful elevator pitch are the following:
- An elevator pitch is simply a quick introduction to your business.
- Around 30 seconds long.
- Sparks interest and response.
- It’s clear.
- It’s authoritative.
- It is about them, not you.
- Highlights your value, and what problem you are solving.
- Introduces your uniqueness.
- It’s relatable.
Below are a few tips to make an impact with your pitch:
- Role plays your pitch with team members, friends, and family.
- Record yourself, and tweak it.
- Go listen to other pitches and note what works, or not.
- Document it on your mobile phone, so you won’t be at a loss for words.
- Practice, practice, practice until it becomes natural.