Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch
By Jennifer Bessell, NLOWE CEO
Imagine you’re at an NLOWE event, learning new skills and catching up with old friends, and you see someone you’ve been dying to talk to about your business. They are getting ready to leave, so you want to capture their attention quickly and invite a future conversation. You need what is commonly referred to as an elevator pitch!
An elevator pitch is a 30-second prepared introduction that clearly and succinctly explains who you are and what you do. It’s called an elevator pitch because it references the amount of time you’d spend riding an elevator with someone. At NLOWE’s Knowledge Nuggets and Networking event in October, we discussed how you may clearly and succinctly introduce yourself and your business and ask to stay connected. Here are the highlights:
Where do you start? Keep it short and sweet.
Aim to deliver your message in less than a minute. Tell them who you are, what you do, and what you want to achieve. You have limited time, so make sure you’re positive and persuasive.
Thirty to forty-five seconds isn’t a lot of time, so you need to prepare your pitch in advance. Start by making a list of descriptions of you and your business. Then tailor the list to the appropriate audience. It would help if you had a couple of possibilities in your back pocket. Perhaps one to introduce your business to potential clients or customers, one to sell a new idea to an executive, and one that tells people about an initiative you’re leading.
Explain what you do. Focus on an item or two.
"You’re in front of a person you’d like to work with, work for, or learn more from, and you’ve only got a minute or less to capture their interest.”
It’s all in the delivery. Keep it upbeat.
Your pitch should be exciting and energetic, your heartbeat should quicken, and your smile should be infectious. People may not remember everything you say, but they’ll likely remember your enthusiasm. The more you practise in advance, the more your personality will have a chance to shine. The result is more likely to be authentic and engaging.
Create a memorable sentence that describes what your company does. For example, “We’re opening up new opportunities for women entrepreneurs and female employment generally by advancing greater participation of women in leadership positions through reducing barriers and increasing access to networks, education, and finance.”
Tell them what you want. End with a question or an invitation to learn more.
Involve them in the conversation by asking a question—one that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” It might be as simple as asking for advice or sharing information: “I understand you’re developing a funding program to support women entrepreneurs to start, grow, and advance their businesses. How can I learn more about this initiative?” Or you could ask to stay connected. It may be helpful to have context on why you attended this event. For example, “It’s lovely to see you here celebrating successful women in business. What inspired you to attend this event?”
Key points to perfecting your elevator pitch!
Keep it brief. You’ve only got a few seconds. There’ll be time for sharing more information later.
Target your pitch. Know the person you are pitching to and tailor your message to be of interest to them.
Practise. I know it feels awkward at first, but practice makes perfect. The more you practise, the more authenticity and enthusiasm you are likely to project.
End with an ask. Always offer a way into the conversation, and end with something that will allow you to contact them again.
Follow up. Send an email or connect on social media. But it’s critical to remind them where you met, thank them for speaking with you, and find a way to continue the conversation.
Jennifer Bessell, NLOWE CEO
Jennifer is the Chief Executive Officer at NLOWE. Jennifer is also the Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), a volunteer with Junior Achievement of NL, a board member with Women in Science and Engineering Newfoundland and Labrador (WISE-NL), and a member of the Women Presidents Organization (WPO). Jennifer is passionate about lifelong learning and helping others achieve success in their professional endeavours. She considers coaching and mentoring a responsibility of leadership. Jennifer is driven to help women and youth realize their potential and be successful in their journey as entrepreneurs.