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How to Make a Good Pitch

What is your 30-second message?

By
Lisa B. Marshall
November 17, 2011
Episode #066

The Elevator Pitch

Today's article idea comes from a reader named Alex who wanted to know how to "convey important information in a short period of time?"

Ah, the old "elevator pitch" (you know, talking about yourself or your ideas in 30 seconds or less). This skill is very important to a salesman or entrepreneur; but if you think about it, it's equally important for job seekers, podcasters, speed-daters-- really everyone. You never know when you might be called upon to quickly  explain an idea or be direct about who you are and what you do.

So is there a trick to making your pitch successful?

How to Create Your Pitch

To help folks with this skill, I generally provide a bare bones model that works like magic.

First, it helps to think of your pitch like a very short commercial. Brainstorm the bigger messages that set you apart from the competition. It needs to be clear, concise, and compelling. Come up with five core ideas:

  1. Your name or area of expertise

  2. How you help

  3. What you do

  4. Why you’re different or the best

  5. A call to action

An Example of a Good Pitch

For example, here's my good pitch:

  1. Hi, I'm Lisa, Lisa B. Marshall. [my name]

  2. I’m a communication expert who helps people improve their public speaking, interviewing, networking, and web communication[my area of expertise, and how I help]

  3. I offer workshops, keynotes, and consulting. I'm also host of a weekly podcast called The Public Speaker and I recently completed an audiobook on interviewing skills, called The Public Speaker's Guide to Ace Your Interview. [what I do]

  4. My programs are packed with research-based content that is very practical, actionable, and fun. [why I’m different or the best]

  5. To listen to the free podcast, or hear a clip from the interviewing audiobook, or to learn more about my services, visit www.lisabmarshall.com. [my call to action or what I want you to do]

It’s a lot of information to eek out in only 30 seconds. So it’s important to practice. If you go on and on and on, people will stop paying attention and you won't be effective.You can have a slightly longer, say 2-3 minute version, but don’t change the bones of the pitch; just add a bit more meat. 

How to Practice Your Pitch

By the way, you can modify the bones of your pitch, slightly, for an investor pitch. In this case, you’d include

  • the high level concept (what it is)

  • what it does (what problem does it solve and how big is that problem)

  • what you’ve done (your past successes)

  • why this particular investor (why it fits)

  • the call to action

No matter the length or specific model you choose, you’ll want to bat it around with your colleagues and potential clients to ensure your pitch gets your most important points across. You might even consider sending practice videos using Viddler or Oovoo or going to networking events just to practice and see how people react. 

How to Modify Your Pitch

You’ll want to modify your pitch based on the feedback you receive. In fact, you’ll need to have several versions to not only keep it fresh, but also so you can tailor it on the fly. Not everyone listening will respond in the same way. You should always adjust your pitch for the person who is listening. For example, if I am talking to an individual, I focus on coaching services; if I’m talking to an organization, I focus on consulting projects, keynotes, and workshops. Finally, remember to refine your pitch as you and your business grow. For example, I just added a mention of my new interviewing audiobook to one of my pitches.

So there you have it: some tricks to make your elevator pitch a success.  One of the most important things professionals can do is to learn how to effectively speak about themselves and their business to others. Delivering an effective quick pitch doesn’t have to be scary. By using the bare bones skeleton, you can now deliver an interesting and compelling--yet quick and succinct--summation of what you or your company does.

This is Lisa B. Marshall; passionate about communication your success is my business.

My audiobook is called The Public Speaker’s Guide To Ace Your Interview: 6 Steps To Get The Job You Want.  If you know someone that is interviewing, buy this audiobook for them. It sells for $5.95 on iTunes. Think about it, for the price of a cup of coffee and a bagel, you’re helping your friend get a job! Now that’s a great gift, right?

Finally, I invite you to visit my Facebook Page. I’d also like to invite you to join my networks on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you have a question, send email to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops, visit lisabmarshall.com.

Pitch image courtesy of Shutterstock

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