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Savvy ways to master your elevator pitch

Picture this. You are at a networking event, and it comes time to stand up and introduce yourself to the interested onlookers. One after the other, the people before you bore the other meeting attendee’s silly with their dreary descriptions of their work. Now it’s your turn, you’re either going to captivate them with a fascinating pitch that’s relatable and compels your audience to know more. Or you’re going to bomb with a forgettable, boring, lackluster response that has them wishing you further!  

The question is when someone asks you to explain, ‘what do you do?’ How are you going to stand out? I’m going to suggest 2 different styles to you. The first style is very short. I call it the One-line Elevator Pitch. The other is longer in case you have just a minute of extra time.  It’s called the 5-step pitch.

One-line Elevator Pitch

The one-line approach involves you explaining in just one sentence how you help people. You can start with, “I help people” then say what you achieve. Or you can start with your title and then further explain what that means by outlining how you help people. In Australia, it’s easier to do this one. You’re less likely to be thought of as a braggart. Here are some examples:

“I help people who feel trapped and unfulfilled in their corporate jobs, ditch the ladder, escape the 9 – 5 and live a life of purpose, success and abundance through running their own business.”

As a strategist, coach and speaker I bring clarity to complex situations, enabling difficult decisions to be made with confidence.” 

“I’m a pitch coach, and I help people to communicate their ideas persuasively, so they hear the word ‘yes’ more often.”

“I’m an accountant with PWC and specialize in corporate tax. I’m working on an interesting project at the moment with Rio Tinto helping them minimize their tax liability.”

The 5-step Pitch

The 5-step pitch is a simple way to plan out what you’d like to say. Here it is for you:

1. Problem. “Many people find…..”

2. Solution. “Imagine if…..”

3. Target Audience. Explain who benefits from your product or service.

4. Proof. List one or more clients who have reaped the rewards of your help.

5. Statement of Fact. To ensure the audience is convinced.

For example:

“Have you ever felt like you were banging your head against a brick wall when trying to convince someone to say yes to your ideas? Imagine if you knew the formula that successful business presenters use to persuade people. I specialise in helping business people pitch their ideas so people listen, engage and say yes more quickly. Last year I helped 2 corporate clients win $500 million pitches. The reason we follow formulas is because they work.”

Here’s a slightly longer example:

“Most people fear speaking in public. In fact, you’ve probably heard that people fear public speaking more than death. Imagine if you could learn what awesome public speakers do to manage their nerves so that you could captivate an audience and never feel fearful when speaking in public again. I specialize in helping business people overcome their public speaking fears so they can communicate with confidence, clarity and influence every time. I’ve just helped an amazing girl called Amy. When Amy was only 10 years old, she was booed by her teacher and class whilst doing a speech in class. By the time she contacted me she was 32 years old and she had been terrified of public speaking ever since. She said she’d decided to overcome her fear and had signed up to do a keynote speech at a conference of 120 people. Her brief to me was, “cure me.” No pressure! Amy learnt the 3 phases to a persuasive presentation in business and was told she was the best speaker at the event. She’s cured forever. Anyone can be a persuasive presenter, it’s just a matter of knowing what to do and doing it“.

What should you consider?

1. Speak clearly. Articulation is the clarity of your words. Aim for crisp, clean sounds. Warm up your lips, cheeks, teeth and tongue where possible.

2. Don’t become a crazy card person, thrusting your business card at people who don’t want one!

3. Be careful not to sound rehearsed. The key is to rehearse until it doesn’t sound rehearsed any more!

4. Don’t brag. No one likes a braggart.

5. Believe in yourself. You need to believe to your core that you have what this person needs. If you don’t have what this person needs, give a shorter answer and let them talk about themself instead.

Why not plan out what you’ll say the next time you find yourself at a networking event and you’re asked to explain, ‘what do you do?’. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did. 

Edited extract from How to Persuade: The skills you need to get what you want (Wiley $29.95, 1 Aug 2022) by Michelle Bowden.

Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. She is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), creator of the Persuasion Smart Profile® (a world-first psychological assessment that reports on your persuasiveness at work). Michelle is also the best-selling author of How to Present: The Ultimate Guide to Presenting Your Ideas and Influencing People Using Techniques that Actually Work (Wiley) and has delivered her Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass more than 950 times for over 12,000 people.


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