September 2014: Why Everyone Needs a Good 60-second Elevator Pitch

Great leaders are great communicators.  Not just giving guidance, or feedback, or even setting the vision.  At its core, communication is about transmitting a message that is fully understood by the intended audience no matter how complex or new the topic.  Therefore, this month for “Lead Like A Legend” we will discuss the importance of clear and careful communication.  Specifically, we will talk about how to communicate what you do for a living in 60 seconds or less.

 

What is the origin?  Well here is how the old “sales story” goes… A sales rep is going on a call to a large Fortune 500 company.  He gets into an elevator and guess who steps in next to him?  The CEO of that company!!  The sales rep has just 1 minute (60 seconds) before the elevator hits the top floor.  What does he tell the CEO? Hence the 60 second elevator pitch was born.  It simply states that you must be able to clearly articulate to someone what you do and how you provide value in one minute or less.  I argue that the best people have a good 30 and 60 second pitch.

 

This is not just for sales reps and CEO’s.  Think of how many times you have met someone at an event or even a casual party and they struggle to explain what their company does or even worse has a hard time explaining their specific job. Frustrating.

 

Here is what I think are the components of a good 60 second elevator pitch.

  • Who we are
  • What we do
  • How we do it
  • Who we do it for
  • Why we are different
  • Some cool statistic or fact to grab their interest (start or finish with this – or both)

 

By the way – it should be only 60 seconds.  That is the point. Quick, clear, concise.  Once you have it written down.  Practice it, rehearse it. Out loud.  To a friend, or a mirror, or just sitting at your desk.  It doesn’t have to be exact each time – but if I ask 50 different people at your company what you do – they should all be about 90-95% the same content and messaging.  These 6 points are easy to remember and keep people on message.

 

Personal 60 Second Elevator Pitch

Okay, but what about a personal 60 second elevator pitch for people you meet, or a potential employer or the dreaded interview question “Tell me about yourself”? Here I think the following are critical:

  • Where you grew up, where you live now
  • Current family situation (single, married, kids, etc)
  • What you do now and for who
  • What you do for fun / hobbies

 

If an actual potential employer or within an interview then add:

  • Three characteristics (honest, smart, hard-working, etc.)
  • Last couple of jobs, title, company (just facts, no details just yet)
  • How you plan to provide immediate value to the company / role
  • What excites or motivates you

 

Not an easy task. It will take some time and practice to get it just right. Anyone can ramble on and on and eventually stumble upon the points. The best communicators hit them quickly and clearly.

 

By the way – NO ACRONYMS or jargon please.

 

60 Second elevator pitch articles and guides:

 

How to Craft a Killer 60 Second Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business (via Salisbury University Career Services)

“Why Is Having an Elevator Pitch So Important?  You only have 30-60 seconds to make a powerful first impression. The attention span of the average person is just 30 seconds before their mind starts wandering. The other reason is people have less time today. You need to grab them quickly or lose them forever.”

 

Nail Your Next Pitch In 60 Seconds (via Fast Company)

“Actually, you don’t have 10 minutes…You have 60 seconds to get their favorable attention…

1. Start with 3 unexpected “Did you know?” questions pertinent to your topic

2. Link the word “Imagine” to three attributes of your innovative answer to that issue, your first-of-its-kind product that meets that need or solves that problem.

3. Bridge with, “You don’t have to imagine it, we’ve created it . . .”

 

Steps To The Perfect Elevator Pitch (via Start Up Nation)

Step 1: Define who you are.

Step 2: Describe what you do.

Step 3: Identify your ideal clients/customers.

Step 4: Explain what’s unique and different about you and your business.

Step 5: State what you want to happen next.

Step 6: Create an attention-getting hook.

Step 7: Put it all together.

 

The Perfect Elevator Pitch to Land a Job (via Forbes)

“If you’re looking for a job, one of the first tasks on your to-do list should be crafting an ideal ‘elevator pitch.’ It’s the 30-second speech that summarizes who you are, what you do and why you’d be a perfect candidate. You should be able to reel off your elevator pitch at any time, from a job interview to a cocktail party conversation with someone who might be able to help you land a position.”

 

Develop Your Personal Elevator Pitch (via Wiki How)

 

How Not To Embarrass Yourself Doing Elevator Pitch (via The Ladders)

Different twist that focuses more on the “conversational motivations” pitch vs classic listing accomplishments format. “‘The Bud Test.’ If you can’t say your elevator pitch to friends and acquaintances over a Bud, or a tasty Arnold Palmer, at the backyard barbeque, it is not an effective elevator pitch. Speaking like a regular human being makes you more approachable, believable, and likable. It feels less like a shill and more like an open-hearted conversation. And people want to help people that they believe and that they like.”

 

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Thanks,

TD