Here's Why (and How) to Scrap Your Elevator Pitch

Have you ever been advised to create a memorized elevator pitch touting the features and benefits of your products and services? Do you know the best way to deliver an elevator speech? (Hint: it may be not at all!) Maybe it's time to scrap your elevator speech and rethink how to best professionally introduce yourself.

Lisa B. Marshall,
Episode #332

How and When to Give Your Elevator Speech

Research confirms that we need to start with warmth (a smile, a nod, listening, etc.) because it allows us to establish a connection. 

When at a function, or when sitting next to someone for a ride, remember that it’s important to start by making a personal connection. Research confirms that we need to start with warmth (a smile, a nod, listening, etc.) because it allows us to establish a connection. You first have to be liked and trusted before someone will act on your ideas or be influenced by you. The best way to create rapport is through natural conversation that focuses on helping your conversation partner.   

By the way, I have written frequently about conversations. In Why You Should Embrace Awkward Small Talk, I explain that small talk opens the door to deeper communication. And in How to Start a Conversation, I give some specific tips to help to start opening that door.

The bottom line: when introducing yourself or your product, you should ditch the pitch and instead have a gradual professional conversation. Stever Robbins, Get-It-Done Guy, gives a great example how to do this in What’s Better than an Elevator Pitch? He suggests when someone asks what you do, you ask a question back. For instance, if you work as an oncology physicist, you can ask if they know someone who received radiation as part of their cancer treatment: "Unfortunately, yes." Then you say, “As a medical physicist, I work along with the doctors to ensure that the amount and location of the radiation coming from those big machines is extremely accurate so that it is only applied to the tumor and in the exactly the right amount.” That sounds a lot more valuable and personal than “I am an oncology physicist." It can lead to more conversation and more connection. And that’s always a good thing. 

So take the time to develop your introduction sound bites. Determine and develop the best stories that help others understand what you do, why you are different, and why they should work with you. It should be a flexible plan that includes questions, stories, and sincere interest in the other person. Through an engaging conversation, you will express who you are and what you do by focusing on helping the other person. Your results will be much better, and you will look forward to the next train ride or networking event!

Follow Up

Here's an email I later received:

Thank you for writing "Here's Why (and How) to Scrap Your Elevator Pitch". Recently, I attended a networking event and I prepared my elevator pitch several times. During the event, I delivered my pitch and realized that it was utterly useless. Why? After pitching, I was clueless what to speak next. I filled it with lots of "Ahs" and "Ummms". Most importantly it lowered my confidence. I had to ditch it immediately and then I went ahead with my flow. Afterward, I enjoyed networking and got good connections too. Soon after coming home I started browsing about elevator pitch and I landed onto your website. I experienced something, which you advised on your site. I wish I had read it before. I will keep your information in my mind. Thank you again for writing such a beautiful article. Please let me know if I could be of any help to you. Sincerely, AT

This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence.  If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall
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