Here’s a Pro Tip for Nailing Your Next Elevator Pitch

One approach to hone your elevator pitch is through continuous trial and error. But these days, who has the benefit of time? Instead, there is a simpler method to help you gain both the courage to follow through and earn that foot in the door.

The elevator pitch, which should be delivered in the time it takes to ride in an elevator (about 30 seconds), is a hallmark of entrepreneurship.

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must of course have original ideas, or at least a keen-eye for problem-solving. Both of which can be applied to your elevator pitch.

Even after many years in a company, the majority of people still feel uncomfortable with the hard sell. A good elevator pitch also requires confidence and self-assurance.

And so rather than forcing something that doesn’t come naturally to most, we can – with the benefit of experience – recommend this simple approach.

Step 1: Introductions

Entrepreneurs are aware of their identities, the work they do, and the value they add to paying clients (or at least we should be!). Communicating that to others, particularly outside of the comfort zone, is a different matter however.

Use the other person’s time carefully; time is of the essence here. Using clear, understandable language is of huge benefit in the context of a 30 second pitch.

Say, “Hi, how are you? My name is John.” Then just listen. The other person will likely respond along the lines of, “Fine thanks, John. My name is Leanne.”

You could follow up by asking another question. But try this one: “Good to meet you, Leanne. Can I give you my card?”

In all our years of using this approach, no-body has ever said no.

Step 2: A purposeful prop

You may wonder, “Why a business card?”. Well, because it makes for a valuable prop.

Yes, it should include the standard information: your name, your company’s logo, and your contact information. But aim to be unique. For example, adding your photo here is a point of difference and a great way to help whoever you meet to correlate your face with your name, company and purpose. See, you’re not just a pretty face.

Use the opposing side too, which most people leave blank. Feature your company logo again, this time alongside a summary of your products or services, along with your tagline. Perhaps even a QR code which conveniently directs the holder to your website when scanned. Social media icons and handles are also useful and help your new contact to quickly ascertain your social value, as well as followership.

Step 3: Create curiosity

You might consider the cost of business cards as unnecessary. They are, however, by far the most affordable single item for it’s function.

For instance, having the photo is a fantastic icebreaker. In our experience, lots of people say it’s a good idea. Others cheekily comment that there appears to be a much younger person depicted.

In either case, their reply is a request for a follow-up remark (such as, “You’d be shocked how often I hear that,” or “I must have been around longer than I thought!”).

Then, one of the following commonly happens:

When someone asks what your business does, you can direct them to the back of the card to read the main points. If anyone else is nearby, their curiosity overtakes them and then they follow suit. Thus, your pitch has just been delivered.

They independently flip the card over to reveal what your business does. They now have the opportunity to ask a clarifying question; take advantage of your product expertise to provide a succinct response. As luck would have it, your pitch has just been made once more.

Step 4: The alternative pitch

Plan B should kick into effect if someone else starts the conversation and takes control of the introduction. Request for their business card after making a point of asking their name during your introduction.

After exchanging cards, revert to using your card as a prop to deliver your pitch. And now you have theirs to send a follow-up email later.

While this approach may lack the great self-confidence of someone seasoned in the hard sell, you can work a room with confidence armed with a pocket full of business cards and the knowledge that your card does the hard work for you – even after stepping off the elevator.