It’s a simplistic networking pitch, but the power of making an interesting first impression and building a foundation to start a conversation is extremely important when pitching yourself, an idea or a business.
An elevator pitch is a succinct and persuasive sales pitch, but it has applications that reach far beyond selling situations. In college, students have the opportunity to compete in elevator pitch competitions and are often required to give pitches as a part of their curriculum. The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) hosts the National Elevator Pitch Competition, which gives each student 90 seconds to convince a panel of judges/investors that their idea is worth giving a chance. I had an opportunity to compete in 2009 and then to help organize during my time as manager for CEO. Although it may be appropriate to talk for a minute and a half straight in a competition, in most real world situations, it’s not. So does this mean that you need different pitches for different situations? Well…YES!
My introductory example is a basic networking 15-second mini-pitch, which is designed to give enough information to start a conversation with nearly anyone, but not so much information that they are overwhelmed or put to sleep. It can be used for a product, idea, business, or yourself.
As pointed out in Dessert First Pitching, the average attention span has decreasedover 30% in the last fifteen years from 12 to 8 seconds. Grabbing the attention of your audience immediately is extremely important, whether networking or competing in a competition. By pitching the most interesting or relatable aspect(s) of what you’re sharing first, you’re giving each situation and opportunity your best shot at success.
Today, I’m headed to Chicago for the 2015 Self Employment in the Arts Conference. In addition to speaking on a panel and moderating several sessions, I will be giving a keynote talk with Katie Sowa about the importance of pitching and how to create a mini-pitch. The audience will consist of hundreds of artists, musicians, and design students from colleges and universities across America, and each will be required to do the exercise below and then get off of their butts to start putting it to work.
How the Mini-Pitch Works
Length: Maximum of 15 seconds.
Goal: Give the audience enough information to understand who you are and what you do, and help begin a conversation.
Parts: Think of a head and three legs.
Create your 15-Second Mini-Pitch
The mini pitch is perfect for a short introduction or when you’re asked what you do for a living. Remember that you’re not trying to close a deal with this pitch, you’re trying to start a meaningful and productive conversation.
Head: The head of the pitch is who or what you are representing, whether an idea, business, or yourself. The head should be a maximum of three seconds. Your audience doesn’t care much about your name or the name of your business, they are going to relate (hopefully) to one or several of the legs of your pitch.
Leg 1: Start with the most relevant fact/statistic to your audience. Since this article is about both writing an entrepreneurship, I started with “an entrepreneurial writer” hoping this would get your attention and start a conversation.
Leg 2: I took a wide net approach for my second leg by introducing information that I’m a parent. Since a lot of people can relate to kids and being a parent, I’m hoping this information can help me relate to you. I would normally keep the legs more relevant to your overall goals of meeting people, but I’m just attempting to start a conversation. If my pitch was only for business purposes, I would mention that I’m the Founder of TrepRep, Interview Editor for Under30CEO or Director of Content Programming for Pursuit.
Leg 3: This is your last shot to connect with your audience and save the potential to have a conversation with whoever you are talking with. Sports has always been a great conversation starter for me and I like to use that to help me connect with other sports fans, who are often also part of my target market.
Personal example: In my example that starts this article, the head is my name, and the three facts about myself are the three legs.
Business example: TrepRep is a content creation business that works with entrepreneurs to increase the impact both their personal and business brands.
“TrepRep is a content creation business” is the head, and the legs are the focus on entrepreneurs and the increase in impact of an entrepreneurs’ personal and business brand are the three legs.
Now create your mini-pitch and share in the comments below!
Michael Luchies is the Founder of TrepRep, Director of Content Programming forPursuit, Interview Editor for Under30CEO, Entrepreneurship Lecturer at Illinois State University, TEW 2 contributor, and writer of all things entrepreneurship. Connect with Michael on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
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