By Julian Childs, Senior Business Developer & Career Coach
With people being so busy these days, you always need to be ready to make a great first impression.
Preparing and rehearsing a succinct and confident “Elevator Pitch” enables you to make the most of every chance meeting. So after only 20 or 30 seconds (the time it takes to share a lift between floors, although you can do it anywhere), the stranger you’re talking to will want to learn more about you, your company, product, service or ambitions…
These tips will help you prepare a routine that gets noticed, heard and remembered for all the right reasons:
1. What is your goal?
What do you want your audience to remember most about you? Ideally you need to find a hook to capture their attention and leave them inquisitive to discover more.
2. What makes you different and special?
Be up-front about what you or your organisation does, focussing on the problems you solve and how this helps people. Highlight your achievements or include a statistic that demonstrates the value of what you do. The more relevant and interesting, the more unique and memorable you’ll be. Less is more, so limiting yourself to two or three sentences will harness words that work harder and convey more.
3. Practice makes perfect
Write your presentation down and practice reading it out loud using a stop-watch to get the timing right. If you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by the words, you need to work on your confidence or change what you’re saying about yourself. Experiment delivering the speech in front of a mirror, using different gestures and body language to emphasise the most important points. Be enthusiastic and smile so that people will remember you.
4. End with a good question
Finish your pitch with an open-ended question (something that cannot be answered with just a “yes” or “no”) to open up the conversation. For example, “So, how does your organisation handle…?” After that it’s important for you to stop talking as this will prompt the other person to ask more about you or tell you about themselves or the related issues that bother them – either is a great result!
It will take time to get your elevator pitch right and you should expect to go through a few trial versions before finding one that sounds compelling. Once you’re happy, think through the various groups of people you are likely to use it with and tweak it to suit each group. Then practice regularly and vary it so that your pitch always sounds like a smooth, spontaneous and natural conversation and not an aggressive sales pitch.