“You have exactly 60 seconds to tell us about your business, starting….now!”
The 60-second pitch. There is something about the ‘elevator pitch’ that absolutely gives entrepreneurs the ‘heebie-jeebies’. How can you possibly explain to a complete stranger (or a room full of strangers) what it is your business is about in just a minute. Well, you won’t be surprised to find out that there are a few simple tips and tricks that can help you to do just that.
Preparation is key
Too many times you hear entrepreneurs apologize for not having enough time to prepare. There is always time to prepare. I would even go so far as to say there is more chance of ‘winging it’ with a pitch that lasts an hour than there is with one lasting just 60 seconds.
Begin by writing out a short script using the key elements listed above. Ideally, this should be around 130-150 words. As a general rule people speak at around 2.5 words per second. For this reason, I recommend aiming for 140 words give or take. Obviously you will not manage this in the first draft. Write what you want to say and then edit it and edit again until you have the required wordage. Once you have the script in place then practice your timing and if necessary edit it again.
I can’t stress this enough you need to learn to speak clearly and well. You may not always be in close proximity to the person that you are trying to pitch to, sometimes you may be called upon to pitch to a room full of people. A good way to practice is to have your partner or a friend stand at one end of a large room or office as you make your pitch to them from the other.
Visual aids are immensely useful tools for helping to get your message across. If you have the opportunity to do so introduce something into your pitch that is relevant to your business. If you manufacture widgets and grommets for example then bring along a sample of a widget or a grommet. If a sample is neither relevant nor practical then try offering a handout (no more than one A4 sheet) with some illustrations or a brief explanation included.
Come up with a witty slogan
A catchy slogan is a terrific way of getting people to remember your business. Think about Nike’s ‘Just do it!’ or ‘for everything else there’s Mastercard!’ The wittier and more catchy you can make your slogan the better. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be your official company slogan, just something that identifies your business or service.
One vehicle hire company in Birmingham offering terrifically low rates for their car and van rentals came up with the slogan ‘A mental rate for your rentals, mate!’ Using this slogan on all their promotional materials and website helped them to stand out from the competition. What is nice about this slogan is the clever play on words. It was also a great exercise in brand identity reflecting as it did the down to earth ‘cheeky chappie’ personality of the owner.
An accountant friend of mine whose name was Les Moore used to close his pitch for his accountancy services with ‘If you want to spend less time on your accounts remember less is Moore!’ In fact, Les was so good at getting his message across that at the end of every pitch the whole room would chant his slogan in unison.
Always close by reminding people who you are and what your business is…
“My name is Marvin Marvelous and I’m from the Widget & Grommet Manufacturing company.”
Your close is also a good opportunity to use your slogan. Closing with a witty or lyrical slogan will help your company to stick in the mind. If your slogan is very good, be prepared to have it quoted back to you constantly.
Pitching to any audience in only 60 seconds may seem daunting at first, however, it is possible to pack quite a bit of information into just a minute. The most important thing to get across is your mission statement and the problem that your business or service solves. Remember that the 60-second pitch is only ever an introduction. If you are pitching at a networking event there will be other chances to explain the finer details of your business during coffee breaks. That said, a well-prepared pitch will get you noticed and will certainly bring you business.
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