What do you say in an elevator pitch? Does your elevator pitch fall flat every time?
Almost all of us will be asked, “what do you do?” And despite having to answer this question frequently, we struggle to create a powerful sense of curiosity with our answer. In short, the elevator pitch seems to fall flat.
Let's find out how to create an elevator speech that work.
If you're in a real elevator, you'll notice no one asks you questions.
If anything, people don't tend to make eye contact at all. Hence, why would anyone want to know what you do? And why is the elevator part important? We all know the answer to the second question.
The elevator part is important because elevators are quick. You could get from the basement to the 66th floor at breathtaking speed, which means you don't have time.
We're all aware that time being the main constraint, the message must not only be:
However, the first question lies in the balance. Why would anyone want to know what you do? The answer is: because they:
1- Want to qualify themselves (to solve a possible problem)
2- Have an understanding of what you do (for a reason or just to satisfy their curiosity).
We tend to think of an elevator speech as something that we do, but in fact it's a mutual situation.
When you or I ask someone what they do, we are the ones initiating the conversation (and not the other way round). Why would we ignore the rules of the elevator?
Why not keep to ourselves and live in our own worlds? It's likely to be a mixture of curiosity and need to know. Hence, once we know what the other person does, we loosely fit into two boxes.
1- We are very interested.
2- We are a little more knowledgeable, but not that interested.
If we use an example at this point, it tends to make things clearer.
Q: What do you do?
A: I show people how to get rid of lower back pain with a three-minute exercise.
Q: What do you do?
A: Dogs that bark incessantly are a problem for owners, as well as the neighbourhood. I show you the root causes of barking and how to get your dog relaxed.
Q: What do you do?
A: Professional wedding photographers shoot hundreds, even thousands of photos at a single event. Each of the pictures is huge, often 50 mb each and a computer takes ages to display every picture. We have a software that shows you the picture in a fraction of the second, allowing you to pick the ones you need, instantly.
Notice that every one of these questions qualify you as a client.
If you take three photos a year, the third question (and answer) is not relevant to you. If you are ten years old, the back pain may have little relevance, even if you do have the problem.
And if you don't live around barking dogs, or your dog sleeps most of the day, then that question too doesn't matter.
Even so, every one of those answers are interesting to you, despite the lack of interest (as a client). You might still want to know how each of those solutions were arrived at, despite not having the problem.
The reason we want to know is because the message is short, single focussed and curious. Once your curiosity is piqued, you will follow through with further questions. Note: Additional questions show an ongoing interest level in the subject matter.
Even so, curiosity is not the only reason
We are always filing away information, both for ourselves and for others. If someone tells you they have an unusual undertaking service, you will file it away, despite not having any death in the family and with no intention to die.
Barking dogs may be of use to your mother who lives in another state. Lower back pain may well be the issue your hairdresser talks a lot about. And while you may not know people who take hundreds or thousands of photos per day, it's still interesting to file away the information just in case there's an emergency wedding in the works.
Which brings us full circle to the three parameters that make the elevator speech interesting.
1- Short: Why short?
Because long sentences are hard to remember. If you can't summarise what you do in two or three sentences, you have way too much information. Since a lot of that information has to be stored away, it's crucial to have shorter sentences.
2- Single focused:
A longer sentence is a sure sign of the lack of focus. Your product or service is like any other. It can solve many problems. A dog trainer may be able to make the dog bark less, but she may also be able to help the dog (and owner) in many other aspects.
The moment the topic veers from barking to something else, the single focus is lost. In the examples, the lower back pain stayed on lower back pain. In the wedding photos, the problem stayed on “waiting for the photos” to appear as they're so huge.
The single focus matters, although it's more than likely that your product or service solves many issues.
3- Curious: What makes a statement curious?
Usually it's a combination of a known problem and the corresponding solution. The dog barks, the barking stops. The lower back pain starts, and a three-minute exercise banishes the pain. No matter where you look, the most curious statements have an almost identical trigger.
The problem and the solution when put together in a short, single focused manner will almost always get the attention of the listener. However, how can we make the message even more curious? We add a precise target audience.
When we refer to the software for photography, we don't consider the average person for whom photography is reactive in nature. Instead, a wedding photographer is almost always inundated with an avalanche of photos.
It's not like a landscape photographer doesn't have the same problem. However, humans are smart enough to make the leap. They realise that their problem is similar, if not identical.
The landscape photographer, fashion photographer and every other photographer that deals with a lot of photos will all be keen to find out how the software solves their problem.
Logically we shouldn't need to have an elevator speech.
An elevator itself is like a chamber of quiet, broken only by bings and bongs as the elevator shows up at floor after floor. However, an elevator speech is a test of your own ability to communicate. Can you be short, single focused and make people curious?
If you can, there's a greater chance that level of precision will spill over to your website, your presentations and every other aspect of your life. It makes you a good communicator in a world that's wishy washy at best.