Tips for Your Business: Always be Ready to Pitch

Phil Stella, Effective Training and Communication | COSE Expert |

Quick, in 30 seconds or less tell us what your company does and wow us with your unique selling proposition. Can’t do it? You’re not alone. It can take some time to get your business pitch just right. You'll likely go through several drafts before finding one that is compelling, and that sounds natural in conversation.

A business pitch or elevator speech is a brief, persuasive speech used to spark interest in you and your business. A good elevator pitch should take no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name. “Elevator speeches are shameless self-promotions,” says Phil Stella, president of Effective Training and Communication in Cleveland. “We use these speeches every day at meetings and networking events, but most of us don’t do them with enough focus or finesse.” 

We asked Stella to share some simple strategies for crafting a flawless elevator pitch.

Less Is Definitely More – Elevator speeches are supposed to begin a dialogue, not be a monologue. Provide enough focused information to engage your listeners in conversation, but keep it brief. With every word or fact you might mention, ask yourself “Who really cares?”

It’s Not About You! – It’s about the people listening to you and why they should want to ask you more questions or get to know you better.  A good elevator speech should generate four or five more specific questions if they’re interested in you. If not, you’ve just saved them and yourself valuable networking time.

Let Go of the Ego – Titles are for business cards. Write out your typical elevator speech and count the number of “I” statements. The more you have, the more ego you need to let go.

Become Buyer-Driven – Typical elevator speech content includes a seller-driven menu of products, services or features. Stand out in a crowd by being more buyer-driven by focusing on what the listener might want or get when they work with you.  Emphasize the benefits and value.

Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect – Practice only makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect. So, practice your succinct, buyer-driven speech until it’s articulate and enthusiastic and don’t forget to prepare similarly focused responses to obvious questions interested people might ask.

To elevate your elevator speech, Stella recommends starting out by writing out your typical response to the question, “So, what do you do?”  Then edit it in the context of the strategies above and polish and practice it until it flows naturally. “Once you have perfected your elevator speech, you can enjoy the ride up to the top floor,” says Stella.

Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day.