Can You Say It In 30 Seconds or Less? The Value of the Elevator Pitch


Everyone knows that first impressions are vital, and popular knowledge is that you have seven seconds to make an impression on a new individual (some say it's even less). Entrepreneurs aren't exempt from this rule, so when you're spreading the word about your new business venture, time is of the essence. Along with nailing that seven second impression, you have to be prepared to pitch your idea quickly and concisely in any situation, and at a moment's notice.

Your Verbal Business Card

During SparkLabKCs' 90-day accelerator program, we spend a lot of time on the "quick pitch," or "elevator pitch" as it's commonly known. The value of a compelling short pitch cannot be overstated. Think of it as your verbal business card, an introduction to who you are and what you do that starts a deeper conversation about how you and your new contact can benefit each other. It's your answer to the question "So, what do you do?".

Here is what I have learned through witnessing the creation of many "quick pitches" -- some good and some bad. If you can incorporate these elements into your pitch, you're on the right track to making a successful first impression.

Quick Introduction
You want to establish who you are quickly, so you can get that out of the way and move on to your product or idea. This isn't the time to list your credentials or accomplishments; that happens later. The quick pitch will reveal who you are through the way you present your product, so the best way to use the limited time you have is on your innovative idea.

Define Your Purpose - The "Why?"
To catch and keep the attention of the person you're speaking to, you need to engage them on a personal level by adressing why they need your product. A great way to do this is to set up a problem/solution dichotomy: "This is a problem you have, this is why I have the solution." An effective problem/solution statement is incredibly important to a compelling pitch. I'll be spending more time on this in next week's post.

Leave Them Wanting More
Once you've made the case for your product/idea as the solution to a clear problem, wrap it up. Don't go into detail about extra features or peripheral functions. Keep it simple and to the point -- remember the Minimum Viable Product I talked about a few weeks ago. If you leave them wanting more, they'll want to initiate a longer conversation, which is the ultimate goal of the "quick pitch."

Once you've nailed down these three aspects of your pitch, it's time to practice, practice, practice. As SparkLabKCs' in-house presentation coach, Vincent Wagner from Creelio says:

"You want to be so comfortable with your pitch that it becomes automatic. If you're searching for words or phrases, your audience can tell you're reciting prepared material. But once your pitch becomes second nature, you can improvise or make adjustments on-the-fly within your established framework. Take ownership of the material to make the strongest connection with your audience in any situation."

Tune in next week for more pitch tips, as well as how to take you "quick pitch" and expand it into a 10 minute pitch that will seal the deal with potential investors and collaborators. Remember, even the best idea is only powerful if you can share it in a compelling way. You only have a few seconds to make a good first impression for your business venture - make every second count!