The elevator door opens. And there stands your ideal investor. It’s the
chance of a lifetime. But that chance only lasts as long as the elevator ride –
you have less than a minute to make an impression. Hopefully, you’ve got a
well-crafted elevator pitch ready to give.
The elevator pitch is not the hurried presentation of a full-blown business
plan. It’s an introduction, an overview and a pitch – and a short one at that –
meant to capture the attention of a potential investor. Of course, an elevator
ride is a short one. Guides for elevator speeches that say you have one minute
surely overestimate the amount of time it takes for an elevator to move from
floor to floor. Of course, an elevator speech isn’t restricted to elevators.
Rather, it comes in handy for any occasion where a concise presentation is
When crafting your pitch there are two key things to keep in mind: its
content and its form. In other words, it’s not just what you say but how you say
it. Here are a 10 tips to keep in mind as you craft your elevator pitch.
1. Keep it short. Be succinct. According to Wikipedia, an adult’s
attention span is eight seconds, so be sure to give just enough information (and
more importantly perhaps the right information) so that after only hearing a
sentence or two, someone knows what you do – and if it’s a pitch, what you need.
2. Have a hook. As Mel Pirchesky advises,
“The objective of the first ten or fifteen seconds is to have your prospective
investors want to listen to the next forty-five or fifty seconds differently,
more intently than they would have otherwise.”
3. Pitch yourself, not your ideas. As Chris Dixon
writes, “The reality is ideas don’t matter that much. First of all, in
almost all startups, the idea changes – often dramatically – over time.
Secondly, ideas are relatively abundant.” Instead of talking about ideas,
highlight what you’ve done – the concrete accomplishments or skills – rather
than some intangible concept or a future goal.
4. Don’t forget the pitch. It’s easy to get so caught up in
the details of who you are that you neglect to mention what you need. What
amount of financing are you seeking, for example?
5. Don’t overwhelm with technical or statistical
terminology. While being able to tout one or two amazing and memorable
phrases or figures can be useful, don’t fill your elevator speech with numbers
6. Practice. Rehearse your elevator pitch so that when the
opportunity to give it comes, you can deliver it smoothly.
7. Use the same tactics for print. You can hone your
elevator skills by practicing them in writing. Babak Nivi describes the email
elevator pitch here.
8. Revise. As your startup moves through various stages, be
sure to update and refresh your pitch.
9. Be involved in the startup community before you pitch.
Business Insider suggests
“Engaging in online discussions, writing insightful blog posts, and
participating in the relatively small startup community can earn you a ‘strong
presence’ that gets you noticed by potential investors.” Building relationships
with investors before pitching to them will help your success.
10. Listen. When seeking to build strong networks, remember
it can be just as important to listen as it is to talk.