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How to Deliver Your Worst Elevator Pitch!

Aug 14, 2008
Have you ever been to a networking event and asked someone, much to your regret what they do, and half an hour later you are still standing there nodding your head feigning interest and wondering why you even bothered getting out of bed?

It has happened to us all...but the trick is not to be one of those offenders ourselves. Not only will you switch off those people you talk to but you will get zero chance of business as a result.

So what is an elevator pitch and what are the biggest pitfalls you can fall into?

Firstly an elevator pitch refers to those first few words you speak when someone asks you 'So, what do you do?'

You therefore have to do 3 things:

Engage your listener(s) so they do actually listen to what you have to say
Ensure that you convey the message you want so the listener understands you
Ensure that what you say is remembered

Remember you only get one opportunity to make a first impression so your elevator pitch is something you should spend time planning, practicing and testing.

So what are the biggest pitfalls you can fall into when delivering your elevator pitch?

Talking too long

This is probably the most common mistake. When someone first asks you what you do you don't need to go into the minutia of who you are, what you do, where and when you do it, and how you do it...reserve that for the follow on questions if the person is interested.

Instead be short and concise (generally 10 seconds is about right) giving a very brief overview of what you do.

Focusing on what you are rather than what you actually do

Tell someone you are an accountant, at best they will politely say 'oh right' at worst will yawn and think 'not another!' Focus instead on what you do in other words how you help to save people money on their tax bill, help grow their business and you may have a willing ear wanting to find out more.

Telling them everything

You might have several businesses or be involved in different types of work but trying to explain all at once is confusing and gives mixed messages.

Instead focus on one area that you think is of most relevance to the person you are talking too, so they are left with no doubt in their mind as to what you do.

Being a bore

People's time is precious so being boring isn't going to endear you to those you meet especially when they have a choice perhaps of 100 others to speak with. A bore may earn that title if they are repetitious, talk too long, focus on themselves as a person or show little regard to needs of the person they are talking to.

So think what you have to say that will be of genuine interest to the other person so they value the time spent talking with you, and again, keep it concise. Even consider using props to help you stand out from the crowd or an interesting business card which will help you be remembered.

Using jargon

Have you had those conversations with people who know exactly what they are talking about but clearly haven't registered that you don't? Many people get carried away with their own technical terms or abbreviations that only those in the profession have heard of.

Consider who you are talking to, establish their own experience in your field and tailor your language accordingly.

Avoiding these pitfalls

Your elevator pitch is something you should prepare and practise carefully, and tailored according to the networking event you are attending. Be prepared to experiment to see what works and get feedback from your friends and colleagues.
About the Author
Passionate networker Louise Yates shares business networking tips and business networking information for word of mouth marketing, generating referrals and sales leads. Louise also runs Business Networking Groups.
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