I’m often on the receiving end of ‘elevator pitches’ which prompt a mental image of ascending an immensely tall skyscraper in a very slow elevator, as the person I’m listening to grinds through a jargon laden stream of gobbledegook that has no relevance to me. While it might have been thirty seconds long when they practiced it (if they ever did), it’s at least three times that long when they deliver it to me. Elevator pitches are supposed to be short and punchy.
Try a different mental image. You get into an elevator with someone you just met in the lobby. You press the button for your floor – the forty-third. You casually ask the other person what they do. They reply with a single sentence that tells you about a remarkable achievement that they’re responsible for, with a clue as to how they did it. Intrigued, when the other person gets out at the sixth floor, you get out too, because you want to know more. Now that’s a successful elevator pitch.
It could go something like this… ‘So what do you do?’
‘Well, with each of my past five clients, I’ve reduced their operating costs by twenty-five percent, by changing their purchasing process.’
‘I help disadvantaged children and other minority groups, by showing companies how they can support charities in more tax-efficient ways.’
Get the idea? If they haven’t grabbed your attention, you won’t listen to the rest of what they’re saying anyway. If you’re interested in learning more, you’ll do something about it. The person who’s giving the pitch will be able to ask you questions as they’re expanding on what they’ve said, and will tune their pitch to your interests.
Which brings me back to the headline of this blog post. Just how short can a pitch be? Can you get your pitch into the 140 characters of a Twitter tweet? Or into a single sentence in your LinkedIn headline? If you’re with me on the idea of the single sentence to grab the attention of someone in an elevator, then you definitely ought to be able to do it. Give it a try!