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Why your Elevator Pitch is important, and how to master it

Why your Elevator Pitch is important, and how to master it
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Many people often hear the term Elevator Pitch and see it as a quick sales pitch to try and get your foot in the door. However, there is much more to it than that but first things first, what is an Elevator Pitch?

An Elevator Pitch is a quick, well-crafted (and often memorized) speech designed to sell a product, or yourself, in a very short time frame. It’s name, often credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso, is derived from the idea of bumping into a senior staff member in an elevator and having to try and win them over by the time they’ve reached their floor. Thus Elevator Pitches tend to last between 30 to 90 seconds, and, when successful, end with an exchange of contact information and a continuation of the discussion. 

“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.” – Seth Godin

Why is it important?

So now you know what an Elevator Pitch is, the question is what makes it so vital to success within the world of work? There are several reasons:

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It Doesn’t Make Them Yawn

You may think you have the best idea in the world, or you are the best candidate for the job, but don’t overestimate the amount of interest they will have in you or your product. Your elevator pitch acts as a buffer, giving you the in and shows the value of you or your idea in the smallest timeframe possible.

It Organizes Your Thoughts

If you’ve ever been asked to describe something to someone without preparation, you’ll more than often find that you ramble on adding ideas here and there, or referring back to previous points. This makes explanation a tedious and lengthy process, even if they’ve explicitly asked you for the information. By preparing an Elevator Pitch not only do you have a script ready for whenever the opportunity arises, but it allows you to put down in writing why you think you’re the best candidate for the job, or why your company or product is the best of its kind. It organises your thoughts and allows you to critique the key points that you think make it/you a success. 30 seconds isn’t a long time, so making sure you include the points that’ll sweep someone off their feet is crucial.

Not only that, but still considering the personal element: by having an Elevator Pitch prepared it eases the anxiety of having to interact with someone new, and prevents you getting caught off-guard when someone asks “What do you do?” or “So, what’s your company?”

It Helps Identify Your Market

So you’ve decided on your dream job, or the sort of investor you would like, and now you’re on the hunt. Considering an Elevator Pitch allows you to question the language you need to use when talking to those you want to impress, as well as what sort of arguments and ideas will impress them. After all, language is a social construct tailored to every form of group, and in order to join the group you’ve got to speak the lingo.

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We’re In The Digital Age!

With the growth of social media, the internet, and fast-paced information, it has become more and more difficult to make new professional relationships. By crafting an Elevator Pitch it allows you to have a prepared script for developing new relationships. After all, it’s intention is to continue conversation after the 30-second timeframe, and to allow networking. It’s great to be prepared for the few minutes you might catch someone without headphones in their ears or reading their Kindle.

How to Put Together an Elevator Pitch

Now you know the importance of having a pitch ready, there are a few guidelines to consider when putting together a pitch to make it awesome. Not all of the following points are necessary, but all can be more useful in prompting further conversation:

Show them what you can do

If you’re representing a company, it’s normally best to open with the problem that the company solves as it offers something that might be of potential interest. If you’re representing yourself, it’s often best to open with some of your key qualifications or experiences. An example for a company may be:

Don’t you hate it when your internet keeps cutting out? We’ve offered internet services for 5 years, and have a 97% uptime – the best of all companies within the local area.

Problem, and solution! Or an opening for an individual may go a little like this:

Hey, [INSERT NAME]. I’m a post-doctorate studying the psychology of shopping behaviour.

A short sentence combining your area of expertise with your qualifications.

This isn’t a sales pitch, promise!

Disarm the recipient by making clear that your intentions are to continue the conversation more than to hard-sell them. This can be done by either stating what you can offer without asking if they have need for it, or if you’re selling yourself, by simply saying what your desired position or field of work/study would be. This is normally more easily highlight with an example, and so continuing from our internet provider analogy:

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Many of our customers seem to be very happy with the consistency and speed of our internet services.

You’re from Derby? Me too!

Drop hints and potential links to organisations, locations, and institutions. This allows for the potential to have something in common with the recipient – you may have studied at the same University, or grown up in the same town – but also allows for potential future networking as it allows them to consider people they may already know from these links.

How about you?

Not forgetting that the role of the Elevator Pitch is to entice future conversations, it is normally best to end asking a question or for the opinion of the recipient. The easiest is often, “What about yourself?” but it could be more specific to what your pitch is related to. If we continue with the Internet provider example, you could end with the question, “Do you ever have problems with your internet?” or “Out of curiosity, which provider are you with? And why did you choose them?” These tend to be less successful than the more open question I mentioned formerly.

And there you have it – you’ve crafted your pitch, rehearsed it in the mirror, and are ready for any opportunity the world may throw at you. Half the success of sales, or gaining investments or work, often lies in seizing opportunities. Master your pitch, and become the person you want to be. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.imgix.net

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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