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What's an 'Elevator Pitch' and do you really need one?

What's an 'Elevator Pitch' and do you really need one?
Enterprise Nation
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Posted: Tue 18th Feb 2014

Pitching is a crucial skill for today's entrepreneur. Whether you are looking for funding or trying to get your product listed by a major retailer you need to have a pitch that is well rehearsed and pertinent to your audience. They take a lot of work but time spent perfecting your pitch can make or break your fledging business.

But what on earth is an 'Elevator Pitch'? Legend has it that a career at the global HQ of General Electric could be made or broken by the ability as a junior intern to articulate what you were bringing to the GE party during a ride in one of the infamous super-long GE lifts. So can you just dismiss it as a new-fangled American thing that can be ignored?

In a word, "No"! Although they might not be called 'elevator pitches' the UK business scene is littered with requests for you to "present your business in 60 seconds", "do a 2 minute pitch" or even answer the simple question "what do you do?" Being able to succinctly explain what you and your business are really about is a valuable thing to have worked out well before you are standing in the spotlight at a business breakfast or similar.

"But I don't want to sound like a robot" I hear you cry. Of course you don't. The best elevator pitches are adapted to the situation. But like a good cocktail it is important to get your ingredients right. Here's one recipe that we like for a formal event:

  • Your name and your company name: "Hi, I'm Sarah from Mootastic Ices."

  • What you do and a little memorable story: "We make small batch high quality ice-cream. One of our customers is Newbury racecourse who we invented a special recipe for - 'Finishing Post Pistachio'. They sold out in less than 2 hours and Clare Balding was seen enjoying some on BBC TV!"

  • What you are looking for and your name and company again: "I'm looking to meet retailers interested in listing high quality ice-cream. I'm Sarah from Moostastic Ices." *

If you are standing up to deliver a 60 second intro at an event you can be more scripted (like the above), and if you are standing in snazzy bar with a martini you can make it sound more natural.

People love stories. They are more likely to remember the 'Finishing Post Pistachio anecdote' than a whole pile of statistics about Sarah's P&L. Adapt it to the situation but having a plan of what you and your business is all about can really boost your business and your confidence at the same time.

*This situation is pure fiction. But we do like pistachio ice-cream.

Lois Ireson is a communication skills trainer and coach at msbexecutive.com and an enthusiastic Enterprise Nation member. If you like drinks, triathlons and gardening follow Lois on twitter @loisireson.

 
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