#Pitching: What is your elevator pitch?

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You get invited to pitch after going through a formal RFP process and prepare for presentation day. A potential investor invites you to formally present your business idea. GREAT! This is pitch show time and you have an hour plus to make a strong impression and land the deal.

A lot of the time however, pitching opportunities are not as obvious and you don't have the luxury of a 50-page Powerpoint presentation ready at hand. Shows like the Dragon's Den, Shark Tank or Die Höhle der Löwen have popularised the elevator pitch, using it's "crunch time" drama potential giving budding entrepreneurs 30 seconds, a minute or two to present their idea to potential investors.

The elevator pitch and being able to succinctly tell a story within a limited timeframe is an extremely useful tool for a variety of situations. The idea behind it is that you meet the CEO (or any decision maker) in the elevator and you have say 30, 60 or 90 seconds to tell them something that piques their interest until the elevator reaches their floor. They get approached all the time, so it needs to be unique, relevant and memorable. Time is short, so it needs to be succinct and contain all key ingredients, including an opportunity to follow up/respond. It's unexpected, so it needs to be off the cuff, but still professional without being rehearsed.

You should probably have more than one elevator pitch ready. Depending on the audience, the pitch is about yourself, your service/product, your vision, your values, your upcoming event, your idea for change,... Think about what you would say when meeting different people and what would be effective in reaching them. The CEO of a potential client? A journalist of a major news outlet? An angel investor? Your child's school teacher? A potential supplier?

Having just coached a client on elevator pitches and having drafted, revised and practised many ourselves, we can definitely confirm practise makes perfect (or at least better). If you are a naturally concise, sharp presenter, maybe you don't need to. Most of us tend to get too wordy when it's important and loose the key message. So preparing the pitch, in your mind or on paper and then practising the pitch with different audiences over and over is greatly helpful. And - try to video tape your pitches and watch them. It's amazing, revealing to see and judge a series of your own elevator pitches in sequence!

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