“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

—William Shakespeare

The Elevator Pitch

You may have heard this before: you’re in an elevator and you’ve only got a short time between floors to make an impression before the door opens again and people get out. It doesn’t have to be an elevator, but there will be times where you meet people very briefly. Learn to seize these opportunities for networking.

So, an important skill set for promoting your business is the ability to give an appropriate sized pitch for whatever setting you’re in. This is something that comes with forethought, practice, and research. Forethought means thinking hard about what your business is, why people might be interested in it, how to best explain it, and most of all, how to best sell it using as few words as possible. Practice your pitch in front of a mirror, using cue cards if needed, until you feel confident. Then practice your elevator pitch with supportive friends or family. You want to be able to smoothly, and concisely, touch on all the important aspects of what you do, and the unique selling features of your business. You want to give a complete stranger a compelling reason to do business with you in future.

Besides a quick elevator sell, you also want to have enough information for those longer situations — if the elevator gets stuck between floors, or you’re somewhere that’s more conducive to a more leisurely conversation. This is where research comes in; you need to fully understand what you’re doing in the following four areas. Know your business — every aspect of it that you can discover. Know your market — who is most likely to need your services, when, why, and in what price range? Know your competitors and what they have to offer. Know the trends - find out what new developments and trends there are in your field and try to learn more about the industry or business your clients may be in.

For every concise point you make, you should also have an expanded answer with further information in reserve, in case the time or interest presents itself. You want to be able to speak at length when you have the opportunity to do so, and really own the topic. Your fluid presentation, interest and passion, and depth of knowledge will come across quickly to make that great first impression you’ll never have a second chance at.

When I meet somebody new and they ask what I do, I always try to answer them in the most efficient way possible so as to respect their time. If they want to ask questions from there, then I can easily get into specifics about my business.