Have you ever been at a networking event and gotten tongue-tied when it came to explaining what your business does? You’re not alone. Having a polished elevator pitch can keep you from stumbling over your words, and can help you succinctly explain your business to potential customers and business partners.
Start with the Basics
It seems a simple enough question, but being asked what your business does can have so many answers. Write down the basic products or services your company offers, as well as what market you serve. It’s tempting to go into detail here, but stick to the high-level details and be prepared to go into more explanation if asked.
When you hear elevator pitches, there are probably only a few that stand out in your mind. Think back to what made them unique. Some people start their pitch with a question, like “How many of you have ever felt the painful effects of public speaking?” Questions like these evoke emotional responses and help others connect to you.
Another option is to open with an impressive statistic: “Did you know one in three businesses fail within the first year?” This shocks people into paying attention. You can follow up with how your business relates to this statistic.
Whittle It Down
Aim for a 20-30 second elevator speech. This is about the length of time people can pay attention before losing interest. You certainly have the option to continue the conversation about your company after you give your pitch, but give people the chance to ask questions.
Practice your elevator pitch in front of a mirror, working on pronouncing it clearly and intelligently. Don’t speak too fast (a problem I have) or people might miss your message. Practice until you’re confident enough to take your pitch public. At your next networking event, try it out on people. Pay attention to how people respond: if you’re not getting the reaction you want, tweak it slightly until you get the formula right.
Photo: stovak on Flickr
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Mashable, Small Business Trends, CorpNet and Lead411. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing