So you have a fully developed business idea and a detailed plan to go with it. But do you have an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a concise, cogent summary of your idea that can be delivered in the time it takes to complete an elevator journey – so no longer than around two minutes. Within that short space of time you need to present your idea as a viable and exciting prospect for investors or other stakeholders.
If it sounds difficult, it’s because it is. Nevertheless, a good elevator pitch can prove invaluable for getting the interest and eventual backing of key figures. So it’s worth the effort to perfect it. Here are some tips.
* Start with a killer line. You need to get the attention of your audience right away, so your opening needs to be compelling. For instance, you might present the problem your business aims to solve, emphasising the urgency.
* Be relaxed, natural and passionate. Don’t deliver your elevator pitch in a forced, rigid style. Try to do it in a conversational manner. A monotone, nervous delivery won’t excite or even interest your audience. You need to convey your enthusiasm for the idea and urge your listeners to share your vision.
* Use storytelling. Your elevator pitch shouldn’t be a list of the basic facts. You can use a story to describe your idea. Think in terms of your target customer – who they are, where they live, what they do and how your business can serve them. You can even give them a name. Or you can describe a scenario where your business can provide a solution. This will help to engage your audience and help listeners to understand the value proposition of your idea.
* Speak plainly. Make sure your elevator pitch is understandable to someone who has no knowledge of your industry. Avoid jargon and don’t assume the listener will know what you mean by industry-specific terms. Also, don’t try to impress your audience with long words. You need a quick-fire approach to get people’s attention and keep them engaged.
* Emphasise the benefits. Although there will probably be many aspects of your business planning you’ll be keen to show off, try to convey the benefits offered to customers as much as possible. You need to convince listeners that your idea has the potential to make a successful business before you show them the finer details of your plan.
* Don’t forget your USP. Your elevator pitch should include the unique selling proposition (USP) of your idea – this should encapsulate what your business will do better than your competitors and how it will improve the lives of customers. It should be summarised in no more than a sentence. An excellent example is John Lewis’s “Never knowingly undersold”.
* Memorise it and practise. You never know when you’ll need your elevator pitch so don’t treat it as something to have written down and only used for formal meetings. You might be presented with impromptu and brief opportunities to pitch your business idea. So make sure you learn your elevator pitch well enough to recite it off by heart – remembering to sound natural, of course. Practise with people you trust and get their feedback. You could also film or record yourself to perfect your delivery.
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