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The Elevator Pitch: How to Talk about Your Startup in 60 Seconds

by Codelation

If you’re one of the many people that have glossophobia (a fear of public speaking), the elevator pitch might be more comfortable for you than a traditional business pitch. These types of pitches are short, sweet, and painless. They can be used in less nerve-wracking situations like one-on-one chatting rather than traditional pitches that are more formal and tailored to the board room. 

What is an Elevator Pitch?

The elevator pitch is a brief speech to convince others that something, typically yourself, a product, or a business idea, is worth hiring, buying, or investing in, respectively. Brevity is a big focus with elevator pitches; they are often one minute or less in length. The name “elevator pitch” comes from the way that you can say it to a person or group over the course of a short elevator ride. This pitch style focuses on distilling your thoughts down to main ideas while sparking intrigue and curiosity. The hope is that the short elevator pitch leads to setting up further discussions with the other party. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the business elevator pitch, so the “other party” you’d be prepping to talk with could be a potential investor or business partner.

Looking for help with a longer pitch?

Our article Creating the Perfect Pitch Deck walks through great pointers for building a pitch deck presentation for more traditional business pitch applications. You’ll find the information valuable for times when you have more than 60 seconds to share your idea!

Components of a Successful Startup Elevator Pitch

What should you be trying to cover in 60 seconds? As always, there’s no genuine one-size-fits-all approach to giving a pitch, but we have gathered some notable components that you can cover.

Conversational speech

Avoid falling into a droning monologue with no personality. It’s important to not lose your character while giving your pitch. It can be easy to go on and on about your idea, but try to make the listener feel heard and valued. Shoot to get some engagement from your listeners along the way or at the end of your pitch. Pushing for engagement will help the pitch feel more like a natural conversation rather than leaving the audience feeling talked at.

Define the problem

Share your audience’s problems with the listeners. For example, your audience might have a connection to your target demographics. They would understand the problem you’re trying to solve very easily, but not everyone will. You must convince your listener that there is, in fact, a valid and pressing problem. Now, this is where your idea comes in to save the day!

Share your solution

Hit them with what makes your idea special. How does your solution uniquely solve your audience’s problems? If applicable, what makes your idea different and better than existing competitors? You don’t have to get into the finer details of how your concept works; focus on making sure the listener knows that it will fix the problem.

Share goals and aks

Share the goals for your idea and share how the listeners can help. What do you need from them? Some examples are to schedule a meeting with them to talk more or to be connected with others they know that may be interested in your idea. Including a call to action tells them what they can do to assist your business if they’re intrigued by your pitch.

Conclusion and thanks

Don’t forget to wrap it all up at the end! One way to close your pitch is to tell listeners that if they’re interested in learning more, you’d love to schedule a meeting/call/coffee and chat about specifics. If you don’t know the person you’re speaking to well (or even if you do), it’s polite to thank them. Whether you thank them for their time, for listening, or for their interest, it doesn’t matter. Expressing gratitude is kind and leaves a good impression of you and your business.

Example Pitch

Codelation’s own Erick Roder gives elevator pitches weekly. He shared an elevator pitch that he gave recently to promote the marketing team’s services. We have broken this pitch down into the sections you learned about above. 

Conversational Speech:

“Good Morning!” 

(Erick also uses conversational speech throughout this example by using terms like “nerd” that he uses every day.)

Define the problem:

“Does your company have enough customers that you love working with?”

Share your solution:

“My marketing nerds at Codelation can build an elite brand around your existing network.”

Share goals and aks:

“Our team wants to find more customers that value your work and that your team loves working with.”

Conclusion and thanks:

“If you want to talk more about your marketing goals, let’s grab a coffee and talk to the team at Codelation. Thank you!”

Extra Tips

Make a memorable moment

Give your listeners something to recall later. This can be a lot of different things. Maybe it’s a mind-blowing statistic about how many people encounter the problem you’re looking to solve. If you have a funny bone, perhaps you have a joke to tie in while talking. Your memorable moment could even be a catchy brand slogan. Doing something a little extra can make a lasting impression on your audience.

Practice

Being well-versed in your pitch will help you feel more comfortable giving it. You will be less prone to sounding stiff and robotic. Practicing will also help you keep under the 60 seconds recommended for a short pitch. While you can always practice with yourself in the mirror, some of the best practices you can get are with friends, family, and peers that can interact with you and give honest feedback. Networking groups and affiliated events are a great place to start practicing your pitch in a more professional setting.

Don’t speak too fast

You’re trying to convey a lot of information, but try not to speak too fast to jam it all in 60 seconds. You want your listeners to keep up and comprehend what you’re saying! People on average say about 16,000 words per day, but the average US conservation rate is only 150 words per minute. That means you have about 150 words that you can say at a regular conversational cadence during your pitch. Fun fact: Sean Shannon is the current Guinness World Records title holder for fastest English speaker at 655 words per minute. 

Know your audience

If you can, tailor your elevator pitch to the audience. If you’re speaking to a peer that knows specific jargon you might throw around, totally use it! If you are pitching to someone else, it might be best to use a synonym or put some extra work in to explain. You don’t want to ostracize any listeners when you have a short time to make an impression.

Have a business card ready

This is a great tip to help continue the conversation after your pitch, especially if you or the person you pitch to is busy and needs to continue going about their day. Examples of locations you might pass a card out are if you’re chatting about your idea at a networking event, if you run into someone you would like to partner with at a coffee shop, or perhaps meet someone interested in an actual elevator! Your listener now has a physical piece of material with how to follow up with you when they’re able.

Pitch it like you mean it!

You now have tools in your arsenal to craft the perfect elevator pitch. Try out a few variations and see what feels the most natural while showing off what’s great about your idea. Your listener will be able to tell how passionate you are about your awesome startup in just 60 seconds of their time.