“You must meet my good friend, Petra. You’ll love her. She’s a, a, a…. I’ll let her explain”
If you run your own business, you’ll probably be able to relate. When all eyes turn to you and you have 60 seconds to convey just exactly what it is that you do for a living. You would be selling yourself short if you gave a one word answer. As an entrepreneur, your career isn’t defined only by the product or service you sell; you’re the CEO, creative director, marketing manager, and delivery driver all in one. Plus, you have a passion for your career choice. So, one word doesn’t cover it, but a half an hour speech about every role you fulfill isn’t right either. Let me introduce you to your elevator pitch.
Imagine you are in an elevator. Someone you don’t know gets. Out of politeness you make small talk. They ask you what you do for a living. You only have the duration of that elevator journey to give a punchy description of your business. This person could be a potential client. You want to impress. It’s not only an elevator pitch because it should be the length of an elevator ride, but it could elevate your business. If you haven’t worked this out beforehand, you run the risk of giving a gabbled, mixed-message assessment of what you do. That could potentially lead to you missing out on a new client and leave you kicking yourself for making a mess of it. But don’t worry, I am here to help you. Here are my 5 best tips for getting you elevator and cocktail party ready!
1.Every opportunity is a business opportunity
You don’t want to be one of those people that talk about nothing but their work all of the time, but when the opportunity comes along, you need to be ready to jump. The best way to keep someone’s interest is to make a connection. By focusing more on what you can do for someone, rather than on what your business does for you, people can instantly see how they might need your services. It is your passion that drives you, so make sure that passion comes across when you speak to people. If I described myself as just a photographer or a mentor, firstly, someone may not know exactly what that means, or they might start picturing me doing a very different job from the one that I actually do. Don’t be scared to open up and show yourself off.
2.Have a plan
Anyone can describe themselves in 60 seconds, right? The problem is, making sure you are describing the right things. The best way to get the perfect elevator pitch and an A* in the cocktail party test, is to filter everything down.
Start with a list. Stick everything down there – what you do, why you do it, your personality, what drives you, where you’d like to take your business, what makes you stand out from the crowd, the goals you’ve achieved and the new ones you’ve set. Absolutely everything. And don’t be shy about it. This is just the first draft.
3.Distill and Refine
Now start being more critical. Try to cut your list down to the ten most important points. Remember to keep focused on your uniqueness and your service. Think about possible connections you could make. For each point, make sure they are specific and not padded out with irrelevant details and descriptions. The purpose of this short elevator pitch is to start conversations; you can go into the details later. Just like a journalist writing a news article, you need to think about the who, what, why and hows of your business and categorize your ten statements under those headings.
4.The Final Piece of the Puzzle
The last step is to put it all together. Hopefully, by now you will have filtered everything down to the stage that you can piece together a succinct pitch. However, you don’t want it to be too dry, so now that you have all of the hard facts, feel free to add a little personality without detracting from the main purpose. For example, I included some personal details about what drove me to make my career change. It’s not necessarily essential to my pitch, but it gives a real insight into my “why,” and might help to make a connection with the people I am addressing.
Keep in mind the order of your points. What if that person gets out of the elevator on a floor before you, or someone at the cocktail party announces a speech before you get to the end of your pitch? Will the people around you have a good sense of what you do, even if you haven’t managed to finish your pitch? Get the most important points in there first. Don’t be afraid to add an invitation at the end. Let them know your favourite social media haunt or how they can connect further with you. Don’t lose a potential client by under-promotion.
5.Get Pitch Perfect
Now you need to practice. Unless you are a natural performer, this might feel a little cringey, but go for it anyway. Sometimes words can look good down on paper but don’t flow that well when spoken. If you haven’t ever said your pitch out loud, you could run into trouble. Plus, you want to have the confidence of a well-rehearsed actor. This is your sales pitch and you want to nail it. Don’t forget to time yourself, either. Your refining might have gone so well that your pitch is a little short; or it could be a bit long. Stick to the 60 second rule and you should have time to get all of your essential details in without wandering into waffling territory.
Below is my own elevator pitch. I won’t lie, it took a while to do. I’m sure like me, you know what you do, but trying to get that onto paper in a way that promotes what I do and who I am without going off track takes some time. But it was a great exercise to do and by following the plan above, it was much less daunting than I expected. And once you have your pitch done, all you’ll need is a little black dress and a drink in your hand to totally ace that cocktail party test!