As the moderator of the Chamber’s Breakfast Connection, every month I get to tell the attendees that we’re going to spend about 45 minutes doing “speed networking,” where everybody will give their 60 second elevator pitch to the other people sitting at their table. For the introverted or unprepared people sitting in the room, this can be an intimidating or scary prospect. I’m here to help alleviate the fear and anxiety.
OK, let’s break down the elements of a 60 second elevator pitch:
- Who are you? The first things to tell people is who you are, the name of your company, and your title. If you think of any type of social setting where you’re meeting people for the first time, what’s the first thing you do before anything else? That’s right, you introduce yourself. No difference here.
- What does your company do? For this section, don’t get bogged down in a long description of everything your company does; remember you only have one minute to cover all the elements. Instead, just use a few sentences maximum, to describe what your company does.
- The “ask.” Once everybody knows who you are and where you work, it’s time to ask them what you’re looking for. Whether nonprofit or for-profit, I’m guessing that we’re all looking for money as one of the top three goals, but the idea is to not just say, “We’re looking for donations,” or, “I want more clients.” For a nonprofit, a better approach would be to discuss a particular program or event that you want to promote, and then tell everybody that you’re looking for sponsorships, volunteers, or whatever assistance you need with that program or event. If you work at a for-profit, then discuss the line of product or service that you’re looking to expand, for example. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to ask for something. My attitude is that the worst anybody can tell you is no, so never be afraid to ask for what you want!
- Wrap it up. Repeat your name and organization, and give people a way to find or contact you. Business cards are easy to carry with you at all times, as they are a simple way to give people your contact info. If you’ve somehow used all 1,000 of the business cards in that box, first thing, wow!, and second, it’s even more imperative to include your name, organization, and contact info in your elevator speech conclusion, so that people will be able to jot it down and contact you. If you only give this information at the beginning of the pitch, people may forget it by the end, which is why you must repeat it. If you have a memorable tag line, you can include it at the end too.
- (Optional) Tell a quick story. Once you’ve crafted, practiced, and timed your elevator pitch, if you find that you have extra time, you can toss in a quick story about how your organization or company helped one of its members/clients – something that people will remember as particularly outstanding about you or your organization.
Those are the do’s for a memorable elevator pitch, and here are a few don’ts:
- Acronyms and corporate jargon. Every industry and profession seems to have its own acronyms and jargon. While you and your co-workers may use these without a second thought, remember that you’ll lose your audience by using jargon that only you understand. Deliver your elevator pitches in plain English.
- Don’t apologize. Don’t start your pitch by saying that this is the first time you’re doing an elevator pitch. Think of the times that you’ve been to a restaurant and the server said, “This is my first day doing this.” Doesn’t instill a lot of confidence, eh? We’ve all given our first elevator pitch at one time or another, so there’s no need to call extra attention to this fact, nor do you need to apologize.
- Don’t lose your audience. The idea of the elevator pitch is to engage your audience and get your point across in a minute or less. At Breakfast Connection, there will be timers at each table, and the table captain will be the “enforcer” to keep pitches to a minute. When a pitch starts running over the time limit, you’re going to lose your audience’s attention. Keep it brief.
So, that’s what you need to put together a 60 second elevator pitch – easy, right? To give you an idea of an elevator pitch that covers all the elements, here’s mine:
I’m Jay Reiner CPA of Jay Reiner CPA. I provide tax and consulting services for businesses, nonprofits, and estates & trusts. I’m looking for situations where I can provide what I call “part-time finance guy” services to nonprofit or for-profit organizations, what people usually refer to as chief financial officer or controller. For organizations that have bookkeepers with limited capabilities, I can prepare management use financial statements on a monthly or quarterly basis, assist with preparing the annual budget, help prepare for the annual audit, or perform other higher level accounting related functions that a bookkeeper doesn’t have the skill sets for. If your organization needs this type of help, or if you know of somebody who does, please contact me, Jay Reiner CPA, JayTheCPA.com, and always practice safe tax!
I clocked that at about 45 seconds, so it’s a bunch of information packed into less than a minute, but it covers all of the elements. The key to a successful elevator pitch is to write it, edit it, and practice it. If you’ve never done this before, write it down, and then practice in front of mirror using a timer to see how long it takes to say it. You’ll find that with more practice, you’ll get more comfortable giving your pitch and your speed will improve.
As a parting comment, I want to remind you that at Breakfast Connection, you could be giving your presentation to 30 or 40 people (or more), so remember to bring a lot of business cards. That way, people will have that quick and easy way to contact you.
Happy networking and I’ll see you at the next Breakfast Connection!