Some studies suggest that goldfish have a longer attention span than people. Yep, 9 seconds (fish) vs. 8.25 (human). So if you want to communicate something that sticks with another human, you better have it figured out before you only have a handful of seconds to sputter it out of your mouth.
The elevator pitch. Twenty to 30 seconds to summarize your business to a potential customer, your business idea to a potential investor, or even your resume or qualifications to a potential employer. The best networking is often done face-to-face, unplanned, and spontaneously. Right now, can you communicate your business purpose in 20 or 30 seconds? Go.
Key elements of an elevator pitch
There aren't too many elements, thank goodness, because it would be hard to cram a lot into that short amount of time.
Succinct. Obviously with only half a minute, tops, it has to be the most concise summary of your business (business idea, or achievements) that you can conceive.
Memorable. There's a long list of business and marketing buzzwords that have gone stale over the years from overuse. Words like "leader" or "leading provider" are as powerful as a butterfly. Other words to avoid: powerhouse, solutions, unique, cutting-edge, innovative, world-class, next-generation, revolutionary. Are there still words left to use? Of course. They should be words that specifically address your business. If it's a restaurant, you might describe your menu as one that "seduces your palette and leaves you craving more" instead of "innovative and award-winning cuisine."
Compelling. You should walk away from your audience feeling like a rock star. He or she should walk away from you wanting to know more, making a mental note of your company name, your name, your website (hopefully holding your business card in his or her hand). Your audience should feel some call to action or want to continue the conversation with you.
How to develop your elevator pitch
You know your business, your work history, and your experience better than anyone. You also care about it more than anyone. To craft a successful elevator pitch, take a step back and think about your message through someone else's eyes. Distance yourself from your love and passion momentarily to outline these goals:
1. How can YOU help THEM? Identify the problem and lay out your solution. Use a statistic or fact specific to your company or experience.
2. Differentiate yourself. How does your business focus on solving problems or meeting needs in a unique way? It's your USP or unique selling proposition. Why you are different and, therefore, better.
3. Engage your listener with a question. You can ramble on for 20, 30, even 60 seconds, but you run the risk of being tuned out. By asking a question, your listener is an active part of the pitch. You do risk losing control of the conversation to a degree, especially if your audience has zero interest in your message or changes the topic abruptly. If that's the case, you may be targeting the wrong audience.
4. Listen to others. A search for "elevator pitch for business" on YouTube will lead you to a host of examples, given by marketing experts, students, and entrepreneurial contest winners. Listen to what other people have done if you're feeling stuck.
6. Practice it! Your message needs to sound polished, but not speech-like. Practicing your elevator pitch allows you to both memorize the message and deliver in an engaging and natural way. Your natural excitement for your business, idea, or qualifications should help your delivery, but don't expect to be an Academy Award-winning elevator pitcher without some practice!
In a small business, you are your advocate. Develop your elevator pitch and put yourself in situations to deliver it!