How to Give an Elevator Pitch

What do you feel when people say, “and tell me about yourself?” Most of us dread giving the elevator pitch – the story of your life in 60 seconds. Scary, isn’t it? It doesn’t have to be.

The mistake everyone makes is to take a deep break, force a smile, and then starting ploughing ahead.

You glance at them now and then – no-one seems to be smiling. You talk faster. Maybe that’ll help! It gets worse. You start to stammer. The room begins to swim…

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Here’s another way. Turn the tables on your audience.

  • Who — ask them a little about who they are. Break the ice. If you’re onstage, ask for a show of hands. “Who’s from Chicago?” Take the pressure off yourself. Next..
  • What — “and what industry are you in?” when you get the answer, you try to link it to something you’ve done in this field. That’ll interest them. They may ask a question.
  • When – “and how long have you guys been doing this?” same idea. Get them to open up. Create a dialogue.
  • Why — “and why did you move into this field, technology, product…?” keep it going. You lead the way with these nice easy questions, all the time linking in where you’ve worked, with whom, and what you think.

The key is to create a dialogue.

If you’re onstage:

  • Identify the ‘out-going’ types in the audience (hard to miss them) and create some interaction. These are your anchors. When things get rocky, you can bring them back in. They won’t mind. Ask their name and thank them.
  • Ask for quick questions from the floor. Choose the answers that suit you. Give nice, direct answers.
  • Stay lean and mean. Don’t give too much away. Tell people you’ll be here for the next hour (create a sense of urgency) and then leave the floor.

The difference here is that you and the audience interact. Instead of broadcasting to them, you see yourself as the host of a super-quick show.

During your presentation, you’ll have highlighted:

  • Who you want to meet
  • Why you are here
  • What you can offer

That’s it.

If people are interested, they’ll approach you.

What the one thing you’ve learnt about giving the elevator pitch? What’s the worst mistake a person can make?

PS – Always say you’re only available for the hour, or even less. This encourages people to be pro-active and seek you out. Otherwise they mingle and forget. Stress this. It always works.

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