Create A Killer Elevator Pitch
We're gonna think about what they call the elevator pitch in business parlance, and all that means, you've probably heard this, but I mean, it literally just means a pitch is any time you're selling something, so it's the idea that you just got in an elevator with someone you think is gonna be like your big, dream funder, and you have just enough time between now and when you get to the ground floor, to explain to this, I don't know, let's imagine a banker, what your idea is, and by the time you get to the ground floor, he's like call me. That's the joke of the elevator pitch, okay? But I still want you to have one. Even if it is totally cliche, you have to have one. So start big and go small. Start with your imagination, start with being a storyteller and coming up with all kinds of fun anecdotes, and all those things, but then you're gonna have to bring it down to we want to create you know, a vaudeville-inspired circus, whatever. Or we want to create a garden initiative for kids, or...
we want to create a music program for children with autism. You need to know what that one sentence is, but one sentence isn't enough to make it fun in the elevator. See that's the thing, an elevator pitch can't just be one sentence. If you just say I'm doing a music program for kids with autism, they're like awesome. You're like yep, ding, door opens. You just lost your deal. So it has to be more than a sentence, okay? It has to be a little weensy, bitsy story, and it has to have a little bit of a cliffhanger, in my opinion, because they need to be like, damn, we got to the lower level and I wanted to hear a little bit more about it. That to me is what a good elevator speech is. So even though it's cliche, and you probably already knew what it was, I like to flesh that out, so that you can visualize. That's what's gonna help you really come up with something. Keep it to that time period, and keep it sexy and keep it intriguing enough that they're still guessing. Try and add a touch of how it came to you, 'cause remember origin stories are important, influences, you know, I work with kids with autism every day and there was this one kid that blah, blah, blah, and so we wrote a song and whatever, you know, something like that. That's what I want to hear, because these origin stories can be a necessary entry point, because other people don't live in your world. They don't see this the way you see it. They're not close to it the way you're close to it. Give them entry points. So let's say, let's do another flavor of the street art project or something similar. So this one that I thought of as an example might be an after-school program that's a poetry program or it's based on other, like hip-hop culture, so poetry slam, spoken word, music writing, creative writing, and let's say that you want to focus on girls. So this is gonna be an example of how you might do an elevator pitch because the thing about this is it's got a lot of layers. There's the whole thing about how, you know, you might go off script, so I want to try with my own like mouthiness, 'cause I can tend to go off script too. What's the story that you have, and how are you gonna turn it into an elevator pitch? So the arts funding has been cut in the school district. Girls are statistically not performing well in this county. The district has already done some studies on it. They're trying to bring in more female role models. What we are trying to do is bring in a group of female poets and other arts leaders in our community. They're gonna come in and they're gonna do a poetry and spoken word program, and it's gonna be paid for by corporate sponsors instead of by the school. That's very short, but I feel like I hit all the high points about what the need was, who's gonna benefit, and that, don't worry, the school isn't gonna be out any money for it. That was quick and it was just enough to maybe get people to ask questions about it. I could probably cut it down. I could probably even, I know I could add to it, but you want to try and get it as tight as you can without losing the intrigue of the problem, and how it's being solved. Yes?
Really, I think that the elevator pitch is so important and I also think it can be, when you sit down to write it or to come up with it, it can be hard to narrow it down.
What are some of the biggest mistakes that you've seen people create, or things that don't work in an elevator pitch, other than sort of the example that you gave earlier?
Yes, personally, I feel the whole story bubbling up inside of me, and then I want to tell the whole thing. Those of you who are parents, especially if your kid is roughly six to eight, know exactly what this phenomenon is. Your son or daughter comes home from school and they want to tell you everything about this thing that happened at school, and they are tripping over themselves with words. We still have that person inside of us even when we grow up, and that excitement, that child-like excitement about a project, your seven-year-old self comes out and is just like blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and you tell too much. So I really do think, even if you're not a naturally talkative person, I do think that's a trap people can fall in, why? Because they wouldn't be doing an idea like this if they didn't have a huge amount of passion for it, and they weren't just dying to get it funded, so that enthusiasm turns you into a seven-year-old, I think. That's the problem. I mean, it's happening to me right here in this st-- I mean, right like now, I'm doing that in this class. I have so much I want to tell you to sell your ideas, guys. And I'm tripping over myself trying to get it all out, and so I'm reminding myself in real time, right now, to pace myself, and that's what you want to do. You want to pace yourself, remember that if they care enough they will keep listening. All you have to do is get out the problem, and how it's being solved, and hopefully maybe even who will pay for it, if you can squeeze that in.
Great, problem, how it's solved, who will pay for it.
Yes, or even who you hope will pay for it, 'cause sometimes that's the thing that, especially when you're talking about business people, they do think about money a lot. That's why they went into this line of work. And if you are not somebody who thinks about money a lot, 'cause a lot of us don't, I don't, then you forget that that is high on their priority list. So you might say oh, we're gonna do this thing, and it's blah, blah, blah, and it's blah, blah, blah, and all they're thinking is yeah, right, and I'm gonna have to pay for it. So sometimes what you want to do is slip that in right from the very start that hey, you know, the school won't have to pay for it, or hey, I'm doing this and the city won't have to use tax money for it, because we're getting corporate sponsors. You know, make sure that's just slipped in 'cause they're listening for it. You may not have to spend much time on it, because their ears are already perked up for will I have to pay for this? And then as long as you can clear it up, like, no, no.
It's all grants, you know, or something like that, then that often puts people at ease.