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Elevator Pitches- How NOT to do one November 22, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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ImageIn almost a decade of advising clients on marketing strategy and communications issues, the subject of “storytelling” or the ability to convey your brand “essence” surfaces quite often. From my vantage point it is still very important to venture out in the community and build an active grass roots movement to connect other humans with your story.

Let’s say you’re at a local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or maybe a professional group meeting. You meet someone and they ask,”so what do you do?”

How do you respond to that?  Is this where we employ the “elevator pitch?”

As I see it, most of the advice we’ve been given about “30—second elevator pitches” hasn’t been all that good. I’d like to share how not to do one…

When you analyze it, speaking with people is a delicate function. We really need to break thoughts down in to “bite size” chunks so not to overwhelm this person we just met.


 I would suggest breaking your “story or abbreviated pitch”  down to three stages- using your intuition to determine how interested the person is. The first phase is about providing a brief 30,000 foot overview point about what you offer…

First you need to establish-

Awareness- provide a high level overview of your story. This is particularly valuable as you work on a grass roots campaign to explain or differentiate your business or non-profit organization. Ideally if you can get to the crux of what you do in a sentence or two, that should suffice.

Next there’s-

Connection– if the person you are speaking with appears interested or begins to ask questions about your organization, you can proceed to explain the “differentiator” why you are great at what you do or what breakthroughs you have to offer.

After you allow a moment for that statement to be absorbed or perhaps the person you’re conversing with may or may not comment, you can then move it up a notch to-

 Understanding- this is the portion of the conversation where you try to see if the person is agreeable to learning more about your products, or perhaps in the case of non-profits, volunteering or donating to the cause- creating action.

If there is a clear level of interest or engagement, you may wish to ask,

“Would you like me to send over some information?” – I’d suggest exchanging business cards (yes, they still have a purpose…) or e-mail addresses. If you have a brochure or fact sheet available, by all means share it. Say you have an event  or seminar coming up, why not invite them?

In this world of personal brand building I read an awful lot of these “five ways to” posts, a great many about elevator pitches. Human communication is an interaction, this is (hopefully) the beginning of a relationship; typically you don’t walk up and unload your whole life story in one breath. If you ease in to conversation, touch on a few high level points people can quickly grasp, then it’s that’s where you’d want to begin.


Often these “how-to, five step tip” posts fail to discuss proper follow-up mechanisms. Here’s what I’d suggest for remaining in touch with people you meet.

E-mail is always a good start or perhaps a handwritten note with your business card. Thanking the contact for the opportunity to speak and hoping your paths will cross again soon– that simple phrase says a lot about your desire to establish a relationship.  If they appeared very interested there is nothing wrong with a phone call to invite them to meet or attend something the prospect might find beneficial.

Anywhere we can make our communication clear, consistent and very human, appealing to the emotions is where we want our “elevator speech” to be.




1. Your Elevator Pitch Only Needs to Accomplish One Thing ( Reblogged) | Start Up Essentials By Stephen Darori - December 13, 2013

[…] Elevator Pitches- How NOT to do one (jackmacholl.wordpress.com) […]

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