Startup Advice

How to nail your elevator pitch

Jack Stratten

Knowing how to sum your business up succinctly matters, so here's how...

It’s a well-worn truism that networking, contacts and connections are key to building a successful business. And within that competitive and frantic world of meeting and greeting, your biggest weapon is having a clear, concise and compelling elevator pitch to sum your business up. Here are some practical on tips on creating a pitch that you can be proud of.

It’s called an elevator pitch for good reason

A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride – 20 to 30 seconds at the most.

There’s no denying that packing all of what’s great and memorable about what you do into 20 seconds is tough. But the length of your pitch is really the whole point, and if it isn’t short, it isn’t right.

Your goal is to spark interest in what you’re doing – the detail can come later.

Start simple

What does your business do? That’s the first question you need to answer, and the question you need to keep coming back to.

Your answer should of course explain what you do for your customers; what benefits you provide them or what problem you solve. The benefits you provide may be varied and complex, but focus on the most significant and compelling selling point – and ideally, one that’s unique.

Define why your unique selling point is unique

It’s not enough to simply list the benefits your product or service offers; you need to explain how it’s different to what every other business in your industry does. The key, again, is the customer: what gap in the market does your business fill? Why would a customer choose your service over anyone else’s?

Why you?

It’s also important to explain why you’re qualified to run a business in your chosen industry and sector.

Proving your experience and skills plays an important role in gaining the trust of whoever you’re pitching to. No matter how good your business sounds, if they don’t know you, they’ll be wondering what makes you an expert. So tell them – as ever, in the most concise way possible.

Hold it together with stats and proof

Explaining what you do, why it’s found an audience and why you’re the right person to deliver it is all part of setting up for your big finale: some proof that it’s already working.

Find a couple of stats that prove the worth of your business – companies you’re already working with, or sales figures to whet the appetite. If your business is especially new, use some stats from your personal experience that support your expertise.

Edit, and edit again

It’s far easier to create something long and repetitive than something short and punchy. Concision takes work, and that work comes in the form of editing.

Write your elevator pitch, read it aloud, and edit it. Remove anything that doesn’t help you to make your key points, and if a sentence can be shortened, shorten it. Keep editing, and your pitch will be better for it.

Practice makes perfect

Now, you could have the perfect pitch, but if you stumble through it when you actually recite it, all your work will be for nothing.

The key is practice. Practice it alone, and then practice it with friends to see what they think. Consider your body language too, which can have a significant effect on how it comes across.

It’s also worth allowing yourself a bit of freedom over how you describe certain things in your pitch. You want your pitch to sound natural and conversational, and if you follow a script word-for-word, it’s more likely to sound forced and rigid.