The Tool For Making The Perfect Elevator Pitch

I’ve been looking for an automated pitch generator ever since Harvard removed their automatic pitch maker. I’ve finally found one at Buzzuka. OK, it’s not perfect, you actually need a human being and some passion for that, but what it does nicely is put you into the right frame of mind and get you to a starting point.

It’s smart, easy to use and it teaches you the structure of a pitch.  It won’t, however, make the pitch for you.  You still need to do some homework.

Know Your Audience: There is little value in creating a pitch that delivers perfectly what you want but has no resonance with your audience. You’re not pitching yourself. You’re also not going to want to deliver the same message regardless of who you’re speaking to.

Be brief and clear: It seems like an obvious statement, but being succinct does not mean become cryptic. You need to be brief and clear. Your great-aunt Petunia and your eight-year-old nephew should be able to understand it.

Answer Essential Questions:  If the response to your pitch is, huh? You haven’t been clear enough. Make sure that your audience knows exactly what you want from them and that you answer that age-old question, “What’s in it for me?”

No Pick-Up Lines: If you use a line like, “Heaven must be missing an investor angel because you’re here with me right now.” Not only will you come off as cheesy, but also cliched. Get their attention, but do it with grace. Go left if they expect you to go right.  Use humour, gently.

When I talk about my experience, people typically assume that I learned about government relations during my years on Parliament Hill. I always respond the same way. “GR on parliament hill? No, I didn’t learn anything about government relations while I was there, I learned all about public relations because that’s who our audience was.”

My answer is unexpected, so it becomes memorable.  It’s not rocket science, it just shows a little-unexpected logic.

Renew It: Don’t take your pitch for granted. Always consider new ways of delivering it.  Refine and refresh it over time.

One size does not fit all: if you have different target audiences, then you should have different pitches. Context should also change the nature of the pitch.  For example, there’s the pitch to have a meeting that happens on an elevator and then there’s the pitch to sell your idea that might happen while sitting next to someone on a plane.

Have you ever delivered a great pitch in a pinch? Have you ever been sold something because the pitch was too good to refuse? I’d love to hear your views.


0 responses to “The Tool For Making The Perfect Elevator Pitch

  • I haven’t heard the term “elevator pitch” in years. Great reminders!

    • Thanks Cassi. Isn’t it funny how things come in and out of style. They used to be a necessity, then they disappeared for while, not sure why, but they are BACK. Could be the Lion’s Den reminded us or the fact that we’re seeing more entrepreneurs.

  • I love this. I will pin this for future use. It brakes it down into a management project.

    When I first heard the term elevator pitch way back when I thought it actually meant speaking to someone in an elevator… LOL. I was pretty young at the time, so all I could think was how often does one pitch someone in an elevator? It was a few years later before I understood it to be a metaphor. 🙂

  • I’ve actually used the website to test my own!

    Most elevator pitches make me want to gag. The reason? People are more interested in talking about and up themselves, then being OTHER focused. My online friend and eBook collaborator, Jeannette Paladino and I, wrote an eBook Repairing the Elevator Speech. Both of us agree (I can speak for both related to your blog post here) “You’re not pitching yourself.” You must start off with something that the other person will want to listen to and that is – something about a likely problem you know they have, and the results people who purchased from (or worked with) you got as a result of it. Then, you can talk about yourself if you get the welcome reply, “tell me more.”

    Thanks for some valuable insights.

    • I know what you mean about the impact of some pitches. Some feel as though they should be completed by snapping your fingers and pointing at your victim …I mean audience with your index fingers and winking. I’ll have to take a look at your book, knowing you and Jeanette I know I’ll be able to add it to my communications tools.

  • I’ve used that web site from time to time; always refining and practicing my pitch. Looking for new ways to talk about your business is always something to keep practicing.

  • Definitely need to check this out. My elevator pitch turns into a ramble much too easily, and it’s always me-oriented. Trouble is, you don’t want to sound too slick. It’s a fine line, isn’t it? Thanks for the link!

    • My concern is rattling my pitch off so fast that it doesn’t sound sincere. It’s really about the big breath and remembering the human you’re talking to you. Hope the link helps.

  • I’m currently trying to put a pitch together for my novel that I can deliver to agents and editors at the writing conference I’ll be attending next week, and can see the basic principles are the same as what’s presented here.

    My own story of falling prey to a seductive pitch happened years ago when my husband and I bought into a timeshare. They lured us in with a free Home Depot gift card, and then told lavish stories about all the exotic places we could visit once we bought into the program. Then we realized we couldn’t afford anything but the lowest-level package, but we were so sucked in by the pitch that we signed on the dotted line. Needless to say, a few hours later we sat at home freaking out over what we’d just done. At least we had 24 hours to cancel the purchase. I guess that’s one of the ways people learn how not to be wiser consumers 😉

    • I went to a time share pitch. It was presented as a free weekend at a resort, but turned into a sales job. I have to admit, they are good. They have turned the pitch into an art. 🙂

      Best of luck with the book pitch. I hope this helps.

  • I am so bad at stuff like this. My wife swears that the pitch I would use for her would be “If you were a booger, I’d pick you.” Seriously, I am that bad.

    Yes, I know you weren’t referrencing pick up lines but you did mention one in there so that is where my mind went. I usually end up getting so tongue tied in situations with other people that it all goes plooey.

    • Too funny!!! The thing is a bad pitch can sound like a bad pick up line and fall equally flat…talk about awkward silence. If I think about what I want, I feel like I’m singing the “Me, Me, Me” song. If I focus on what I can do for the listener I get less weirded out by the process.

  • Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) says:
    July 17, 2013 @ 12:24 am

    I think we need a tool that would help us compose pitches for various situations—transportive or otherwise, e.g., The moving walkway pitch; the escalator (same side) pitch and the passing escalator pitch; the bar pitch (to be modified after each successive drink); the “I might as well deliver my waiting on line (or in a queue, if you’re British or from a Commonwealth nation) pitch” to the person adjacent to you in said line/queue; the “we’re going to be sitting next to each other for 10 hours on this metal tube in the sky” pitch; the fortieth high school reunion pitch; and, finally, for now, the “pitch on a pitch” to be delivered while playing cricket. (These are just examples. I’m sure the pitch-miesters reading this can think of other situations for which a dedicated pitch should be composed and at the ready.)

    Found your post on BHB 🙂

    • Hahahahahahahahhahahaha…I think purgatory would be sitting next to someone for ten hours on a plane while they tried to sell me something or I tried to sell them something. I’d attempt haiku if I had to pitch someone on a passing escalator going opposite ways. 🙂

  • I agree with Pat and Ann. Great tool, and a good reminder to be concise and try showing others that you have something valuable to offer them.

    Good post, Debra!

  • Barbara Hockley says:
    July 17, 2013 @ 08:54 am

    I shall just be on my guard next time I get into an elevator (or a ‘lift’ as we like to call them in the UK). But seriously, it is something I think about – especially when my website is diverse. I thought I might try and create a tagline – and then expand it. Not sure if that would work, but it’s long overdue! I’m on it …. (Can’t think of a time when I was sucked in – but that’s only because I have a rubbish memory!)

    • Over the course of reading and responding to comments I have to admit, I’ll think twice about getting on an elevator with a stranger. 🙂

      I think it would actually be easier (at least for me) to start with what I want to say and reduce it. Succinct takes a lot of work.

  • Lol, pick up lines in an elevator?

    I think this definitely helps, especially us women in corporate, because sometimes we don’t know how to sound succinct, objective, and assertive when we deliver our ideas. We get all “wordy” and “emotional” when give rise to new projects….food for thought.

  • What a coincidence, Debra. Bookmarked that tool months ago but forgot all about it. So now I have to have a go at it. Thanks for reminding me.

  • A very succinct and valuable summary of what a successful elevator pitch should be, thanks!

    • Thanks! I think the trick would be to explain what an elevator pitch should do in the time frame it takes to deliver a pitch. I’ll let someone else tackle that job. 🙂

  • Arleen says:
    July 18, 2013 @ 03:06 pm

    Great tool. I need to check it out. It is funny I try not to take an elevator and walk the stairs for exercise. I think we all use pitches for whatever we want or sell without really realizing. I have been in sales for so many years that my friends tell me that I am closing them all the time. I have no idea what I am doing, so I guess it comes naturally. I haven’t heard of the elevator pitch in years, but everything that is old is new.

    • The unexpected opportunities to deliver a pitch are endless. The cocktail reception is an obvious one of course, but there’s standing in line, the airport waiting area, a shared taxi ride, the period before the meeting when people are sorting and settling. Then there’s the completely unexpected, but always popular the ladies room. Before you cringe, I mean when you’re washing your hands of course, not while anyone is in the stall. For the record, I haven’t ever pitched anyone in the ladies room, but I’ve been pitched their countless times during conferences. 🙂

  • Very good article. An elevator pitch is delivered in such a short time, an attention span, that it is hard to create one with all the pertinent information. But that is just what must be done. Every word counts.

  • Great information Debra! I worked as Director of Development for a large LA non-profit for a couple of years and had the privilege of attending the Annenberg foundation’s Alchemy program.. One of the item we covered was the “Elevator Pitch”… We had a lot of fun (not really) role playing… It’s a different thing when you’re on the spot, and it’s important to practice your pitch once you’ve got it down so it flows naturally when you need to give it… Try it on a variety of people as well to see how they respond, before you have to give your big pitch.
    I love how you break it down. It makes a lot of sense and is easy to implement. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Valerie. There are few things that don’t improve with practice and the pitch is no exception. Role playing with others is even better because you see clearly what makes sense on paper doesn’t always sound natural in conversation. When I write speeches or presentations for other people, I always encourage them to practice, practice, practice, but also change them up so that they sound natural when they deliver them.

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