How to Create An Elevator Pitch That Sounds Natural Both On and Off the Field
Having a great elevator pitch can be the difference between snatching up an opportunity or losing out on the deal of a lifetime. Every business owner has wondered what they would do if they were stuck in an elevator with their dream partner but, in reality, that situation rarely happens in real life. So the real question is:
How do you create an elevator pitch that is as professional as it is natural and can be used at a dinner party, coffee shop or networking event?
Let’s start with the gold standard – the elevator pitch. Some of the most important parts of your classic elevator pitch are:
- Ask a question to engage your listener. Opening with a leading question that engages the person you’re pitching to will catch their attention as well as make your pitch sound less “pitchy.” For example: “Have you ever had trouble remembering all your log in passwords?”
- Explain what your ‘value add’ is. Anyone you’re pitching to will automatically wonder what you can do for them, no matter what you say. So tell them. Immediately. Explain what you do best and why you do it better than anyone else.
- Repeat important information. Make sure to repeat your name and business name.
- Don’t recite a script. You should have a rough outline and points you want to hit but you shouldn’t sound as though you’re reading from a teleprompter. Your pitch should sound natural, spontaneous even. If it helps, practice being fluid in conversation with friends.
- Ask the listener a question about themselves after your pitch. It takes two to tango. Once you give your spiel, make sure to open things up to your “pitchee.” Asking questions will ensure the person you’re pitching to walks away feeling positive about the conversation.
Now that you’ve perfected your elevator pitch, how can you make it more natural for more casual encounters?
One of the biggest mistakes brand owners make when selling themselves is making a one-size-fits-all template and trying to force it into every situation. Remember that for each pitch the situation will be different, the listener will different, and the interaction will be different (but the end goal shouldn’t be). Communication specialist Robyn Hatcher compares elevator pitches to her son’s baseball pitches, “Just like a pitcher on the mound, business people should have several different pitches ready to throw because every listener — just like every batter — is different.”
The difference between a formal elevator pitch and a more casual one is that both parties are involved, making it much more conversational. Here are some tactics to employ.
Tactic 1: Ask questions to engage the person you are pitching, but ensure each act as a segue back to your pitch. For example:
- “What New Projects Are You Working On?” Perhaps your company is working on a new roll out, asking a question like this gets your listener talking but also allows you to retort on a topic you can engage on.
- “Any Future Expansion Plans?” Whether or not you (or they) are planning to expand, this question allows for an engaging conversation that can build a rapport because sharing “pie in the sky” ideas creates mutual comfort.
Tactic 2: Find topics that are relatable between you and your conversation partner to center the conversation around. Doing this will ensure things flow.
- “What Would Make Your Life Easier?” This question can VERY easily be turned back around to what it is you do and how it can make the listener’s life easier, EVEN if they don’t mention anything close to what you do as their answer.
- “Have You Been to [ABC] Conference? How Did it Go?” Find mutual ground and talk about strategies for approaching conferences/networking events/festivals. You may learn something that would be useful to you.
- “How Did You Do [XYZ]?” This question will get people talking. Engage them on what they do and how they do it, you can easily retort with something you do well.
Now that you have created a professional pitch and understand how to dilute it down to make it more conversational you need to ensure everyone at your company understands how to employ these strategies, in any situation.
Ways to create a cohesive pitch across your company
- Hold an “All Employees” mandatory meeting and clearly explain your pitch. Practice interactions during the meeting to help everyone make it more casual while staying true to the message.
- Send out topical articles and tips such as “Questions to Ask” or “Ways to Direct the Conversation” frequently to expand their knowledge base and comfort level.
- Reiterate your company’s pitch often so it can’t be misconstrued.
- Encourage casual pitching. Sometimes “dinner table” promotion and word-of-mouth can be as important as standard promotion.
Encourage your team, big or small to take the pitch and ethos and be ready and willing to use it at anytime. Sometimes team members won’t want to because they don’t feel empowered to, so empower them with your confidence and knowledge.
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