There is nothing worse than taking time to explain an idea you are passionate about only to have the first question out of the other person’s mouth be, “so what exactly are you doing?”
If you break down an elevator pitch, you ultimately have to hit a handful of topics in a succinct manner:
- Target Market
- Specific Ask/Call to Action
The order in which you cover these topics may vary, but you ultimately want to hit on each and every one of them. Let’s break this down further.
In short, define the problem that you are solving and why it is important.
Now that you have set the stage with a validated problem that is important to solve, describe your proposed solution.
Hint: everybody is not your target market. Get specific here about who feels the above problem the most and how you plan to hone in on your target market to help alleviate that problem for them.
There will always be competitors trying to solve the same problem that you are. Make sure you specify how you are different. Are you faster? Are you providing better quality? Are you cheaper?
Also remember that apathy or the way things have always been done (the status quo) can be a competitor.
Make the case for why the team you have put together is the best to solve this problem. Do you all have transferrable or relatable experience? Are you solving your own problem (scratching your own itch)?
Ultimately you are trying to answer the question of how you will make enough money to sustain and grow your solution. This typically takes the form of grants or philanthropic dollars for nonprofits and sales for for-profits. Remember, if you do not have a plan to create value/drive revenue, you are wasting your time, your energy, and your money.
When did you first start working on your project? If you are going through a multi-step process to move your project forward (think medical devices), how many steps have you successfully completed thus far? What are the next steps or milestones you plan to hit? You want to be able to show that your project has legs and is moving in the right direction.
Specific Ask/Call to Action
This is the most important part of your elevator pitch. You have spent the last 1-2 minutes informing someone about your idea and why they should care about it. Now that you hopefully have them bought in, you should share what they can do to support you. This could be anything from buying your product, donating towards a cause, to making an introduction.
Do not waste your time pitching to someone for 1-2 minutes without ending with an ask for them to complete. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.
People have terrible attention spans. Keep this in mind and do your best to make your elevator pitch as easy to follow as possible. A great way to do this is to practice in front of people that have not heard your idea before. After you practice, ask them to paraphrase what you just talked with them about. The goal is to get a complete stranger to understand thoroughly what you are working on.
In regards to the attention span comment above, make sure you clearly identify 1-3 takeaways you want your listener to remember afterwards. You can help them remember these takeaways by explaining your elevator pitch clearly and by leveraging repetition to stress importance.