How is your Leadership Elevator Pitch?
Have you ever fumbled an answer to a question from a reporter, a potential client or maybe even an employee? Your answer is probably ‘yes’ – unless you’ve had training in how to respond quickly, engagingly and accurately, like most of us you will flounder slightly before getting into your stride. The trouble is, that by the time you’ve warmed up, you’ve missed the moment: the elevator’s got to the top floor and your questioner has gone! The way to become more articulate is to prepare yourself.
It’s a good lesson for every leader – be prepared before you speak, not just for major presentations, but also for the impromptu messages you need to deliver constantly to engage and ‘sell’ to people, whether you are selling your business, your vision or yourself.
Leadership is about engaging others in your point of view or the value you provide.
Here are three tips for more engaging leadership pitches:
- Consider key issues, initiatives and challenges facing your team, and develop a short leadership pitch for each one. Your pitch needs to make people aware of the ‘pain’ they are experiencing with the issue to provide a context for the solution you have on offer. Only when people are clear that they can identify with the ‘pain’, and that you have a credible solution to offer, will they support you and your idea.
- Identify the ‘pain’ points’, your solution, and the results you know you can produce. Talk about the impact your idea will have on others and the organisation. Then CUT IT to around 120 words, keeping all those elements in! (See the end of this post to download an outline to transform your elevator pitch)
- Rehearse it, out loud, a lot! You’ll be surprised by how often you open your mouth and what comes out bears little or no relation to your carefully-crafted words! Many leaders we coach practise on their drives to and from work. You might also use your mobile phone to record yourself and get used to delivering the message out loud. And time yourself – a really impactful elevator pitch should be no more than 60-90 seconds long.
You may be saying, “But I can’t possibly put across the whole value of my big idea/my business/myself in a minute”. No, that’s right, you can’t. The purpose of this pitch is solely to get the other person/your audience engaged, so they just have to ask for more. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when someone says to you, “That’s really interesting – tell me more!” That’s your opportunity to continue, or to set up the next conversation to expand further.
You are no doubt stretched thin as all leaders are, but if you discipline yourself to think ahead, you’ll make a far better job of selling your ideas to key people and providing insight and direction to key employees. Prepare your messages in advance so that if you meet a person you need to engage, you will have something cogent and coherent to say that leaves them with a clear impression that you and your ideas are of value and are worth further exploration.