In my experience, the delivery of an elevator pitch is pretty much always somewhat awkward. I have watched someone go from being an approachable and charismatic charmer to a full-fledged robot. I’ve also overheard the version that consists of stammering and confused verbiage that results in a completely baffled receiving party. The truth is, coming up with a quick spiel* about yourself, your brand or whatever you are trying to promote seems like a great idea in theory, but it turns out that they are insanely hard to enforce, often misused and consequently, misunderstood.
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Traditionally, and according to this article on Wikipedia (so you know it’s legit) the elevator pitch should be about 30 seconds to two minutes. Here’s my issue. Even if you have two full minutes to talk to someone about your business (or anything at all), the odds of you keeping their attention for those full two minutes as you talk about what you do for a living are pretty slim. Passionate or not, it’s 2016. Your audience could scroll through Instagram, check their email and order PostMates in those two minutes. Let’s face it… in the world we live in, two minutes is kind of a LONG time. Enter something I like to call, your “Stay with me words.”
Our goal is to figure out three words that successfully supply your audience with a general gist of what you or your business is about before they revert their attention back to their phones or other nearby screens. You can then take these three words and use them to deliver your message in a variety of situations.
- Networking/cocktailing/speed-dating? When asked what you do or what your company does, simply say these three words in a sentence vaguely resembling: “<word one>, <word two> and <word three> pretty much sums it up… and not necessarily in that order.”
- Know your audience identifies with one of the three words more than the others? Focus on that one. This seems simple but you’d be surprised at how much people go on unnecessary tangents while in even the shortest of conversations.
- Put the words on your business card as a reminder… or better yet, make them your tagline.
- In a longer interaction with someone who actually seems to care and has an attention span above that of a toddler? Great! Try inserting these three words into conversation as much as possible. Think of it as kind of a Jedi mind trick. This study shows that repeating words to another person increases memory recall… why not use it to your advantage? Maybe next time they think of one of those words, they will think of you!
- If nothing else, this exercise forces you to dig through all the fluff surrounding your brand and get the true and important point across.
The more you practice talking about and around your “Stay with me words,” the more natural they will become in conversation. Coming off as a human when discussing your business can prove to be harder than you think but confidence comes from knowing your brand identity inside and out. So well that you can iterate it in three words even?
*as a side note… I had to Google this word because I definitely pronounce it “schbiel” but found this soooo. You learn something new every day.
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