What is an elevator pitch?
There are many explanations, but essentially it’s about “selling” yourself by describing who you are and why someone else should care - in 30 seconds or less. Interestingly, the term is taken from the early days of Internet explosion when web development needed venture capital. The best companies were those that could explain a business proposition to the occupants of an elevator in the time it took them to ride to their floor.
For you, an elevator pitch is probably as essential as a business card. You need to be able to say who you are, what you do, what you are interested in doing and how you can be a valuable resource in a short enough time period to avoid losing the interest of the other person. Most people won’t want to listen for more than a minute and many busy people (and everyone is busy) will listen for a shorter time than that.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you build your elevator pitch.
Get quiet with yourself first: Make sure you know what you really want to communicate. Ask yourself some focusing questions. Can your point be boiled down to one sentence? If not, it probably needs clarifying.
Have a provocative opening: Stories work well for this. They tend to paint a picture in the listener’s mind and help build that emotional connection.
Make sure you have one main point you want to get across to your listener. Once you figure that out, figure out why your listener should care about that point (how it fills his or her needs). If you can say it in a way that the listener cares about, he or she is much more likely to “hear” it.
Keep it simple. Remember, you want this to be a 30-45 SECOND (not minute) monologue.
As you build and practice your elevator pitch, here is a good acronym to keep in mind: S.U.C.C.E.S.
S: Simplicity. Start with one sentence that gets attention yet is simple. This is the most important part because it grabs the listener’s attention. That’s what you want.
U: Unexpected. Keep the listener’s attention with something he or she might not expect.
C: Concrete. Use relevant analogies or metaphors to bring things to life or to paint a picture in the listener’s mind
C: Credible. Use recent statistics or highlight your past outcomes and accomplishments to demonstrate you know what you are talking about.
E: Emotional connection. Try to use stories and or methods that speak to your listener because they involve things important to the listener (for example, if the listener has kids or likes to run, keep this in mind and relate it to what you are trying to say)
S: Stories. Stories are a good way to keep that emotional connection and to keep the pitch interesting.
The hardest part for most of the doctors I work with is getting started. It’s hard to make the time and feel the energy it takes to feel your creative juices flowing and it’s hard to know what to say. We all have lots of stories – things that have happened to us, times when we felt like a failure, times when what we did resulted in success despite all odds. But then that little seed of doubt creeps in and we wonder, “Is this story even going to be interesting to someone else - or does it just make me look like a jerk?”
Get past that. Laugh about it. Shake your head and realize, “It might,” and then write it down anyway. You just need to get started. You can revise it later or change it all together when you do remember that brilliant story with the right blend of humor, humility and substance. Or maybe you’ll just shrug and remember that you’ll never have the “perfect” antidote; we are all human and that is reason we connect to stories in the first place.
Then, set yourself up for S.U.C.C.E.S.