FAQs With Phil: How Can I Improve My Elevator Pitch?
In this new series, COSE's own Phil Stella advises creating an effective elevator pitch using the (soon-to-be-famous) SSCBH approach—impressing people you connect with and improving networking results.
In this new Mind Your Business series, FAQs With Phil, COSE’s own Phil Stella answers some of the most frequently asked questions small business owners have regarding how to communicate effectively*.
This is a good question and I get it a lot. Before I dive into the answer, let me first explain why I prefer “elevator speech” to “elevator pitch.” Using the word “pitch” sounds like you are trying to sell something. No one likes to be sold to or to feel like you are only interested in talking with them to make a sale. Calling it a “speech” sounds like you want to share some information. Even though the difference in connotation is subtle, it can impact the mindset of the person doing it.
That said, the purpose of an elevator speech is to answer a stranger's question “What do you do?" in an effective, efficient, and engaging manner. It begins a short, focused dialog. It is important to remember that this is not an invitation for a monologue. The purpose of the dialog is to begin to answer two important networking objectives questions:
1. Is this person someone I or someone I know can help? Or,
2. Can this person or someone he or she knows help me?
They're separate concepts and connected with an “or,” not an “and.” Thinking about it with an “and” implies that you can't have one without the other. This is simply not true for best-in-class network pros.
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Let’s take a look at an example of an effective elevator speech:
Imagine I get in the elevator on my way down from a conference in Key Tower. A fellow conference-goer hops in the elevator with me. She turns to me, takes a look at my conference name tag, and says…
“What do you do, Phil?”
“I empower business leaders to reduce their pain when communicating with colleagues or customers by phone, in person, in writing or through presentations... The pain they experience and, often, the pain they cause others.”
Why is it effective? This is a compelling elevator speech because it uses the famous SSCBH approach. OK, we just made this up, but it works. The SSCBH approach calls on you as the deliverer to ensure your pitch is Short and Simple, includes Clear language, has a Benefits-related focus, and includes a clever Hook at the end.
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This speech does just that. But I’m not going to only talk about myself. I am going to ask her in return about her profession, and look for a connection between what we both do and how we might be able to help each other. By the time we get down to the lobby, we will exchange goodbyes and business cards. And, chances are good that that elevator encounter won’t be the last time we are in contact with each other.
So, stop pitching in the elevator and start engaging in dialogues. The people you talk with will appreciate the difference and your results will improve.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com, 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
*If you have a question for Phil, please send him an email at Phil@communicate-confidently.com