Elevator Pitching: It's Not About You

You’re making a big mistake in the way you deliver your elevator pitch.

What is everyone interested in? Themselves (proof – Been in a group photo? What do you look for first when you get a copy?) But who is your pitch about? You.  

See the disconnect?

Back up. We all “elevator pitch” all the time, even if we are not in sales. What is the point of an elevator pitch? It is not to get someone to buy a product or service, or even change their mind on something big. It is to have them sit down for a longer conversation with you. How do you get that? Well, you have to be able to answer this question: what does this person need to believe, for it to seem like a good idea to take a longer meeting?

It may be simpler than you think to answer that question. One thing they have to believe is that they have a problem that is big enough it is worth taking some time to discuss it (proof – look at your last 10 Google searches. Strip out entertainment. Every other one was you seeking out information to help you with a problem. We engage with - and even seek out - information about our problems.)

So the first sentence of or two of your elevator pitch must be a problem they care about (and, of course, one that will in some way be helped if they adopt your idea, product, or service.)

What else do they need to believe? Almost certainly that you will not waste their precious time. Probably that you know what you are talking about when it comes to their problem. And that you can help them solve the problem.

So put that together - what does a great elevator pitch look like? Here’s the skeleton – you fill in the blanks: “You have a problem - _______ - and it’s worse than you think. There is a different/better way to think about it and in a nutshell, it looks like this -_______. If you are willing to set up a meeting with me, I can give you more detail, and I promise it will be the best/most interesting/most unusual hour of your week.”

Notice – there is no mention of your goal or product or service in this elevator pitch. This must be about your audience, not you. They care about completely different things than you do, with one guaranteed exception – they also think “I don’t want to talk about you until we have talked about me.”

Honor that, and you’ll get the longer meeting.


Eli Murphy is an SVP at Oratium, and teaches about the common mistakes you make when you communicate and how to fix them.  He will be speaking at Collaborate 2015.



By Eli Murphy


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