Don't Get Pitch Slapped

Do you know how long the average elevator ride is in New York City? By the end of this article, you will…


Imagine you are waiting to get on an elevator at a conference.The doors open.You step on and are face-to-face with someone who could change the trajectory of your business. This is the moment you have been waiting for.


The doors close as you push the button to your destination. You open your mouth to start a conversation…


That is where it begins – a conversation. Have you ever been around someone who only talks about themselves?




You might think an elevator pitch is about YOU, but you would be wrong. A good elevator pitch is about what you can do for OTHERS. And you have one chance to be memorable enough to stand out from the noise.


Do you think you have what it takes to make a compelling argument for why they should support you before the elevator doors open?  


Will you be as memorable as Alec Baldwin in Glengary Glen Ross when he “educated” a group of lackluster salespeople about the components of a successful sales pitch? You can be.It is all about your elevator pitch.


Do Elevator Pitches Work Anymore?


Some people think the elevator pitch is dead. I disagree.


I read an article on Hubspot the other day titled, Elevator Pitches Suck. Catchy headline. Regardless, the point I would make here is that elevator pitches alone don’t suck; it is the DELIVERY of the elevator pitch (by many people) that sucks.


An elevator pitch is a tool. Think about this. If I gave you a paint brush, could you paint like Van Gogh? Probably not. It is because the paint brush isn’t what makes the artist. It is the countless hours of practice and skill-building that enable world-class performers and artists to deliver. The good news is, with a little work, and the right tactics, you can create a memorable pitch that gets the jobs done.


Remember, the tool alone is rarely the problem; rather it is knowing WHEN to use the tool that matters.You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) try to hammer in a nail with a fork, right?


So how can you make your pitch ROCK?


It all begins with AIDA.


How AIDA works


AIDA represents:


  1. Attention. The pitch needs to grab an audience’s attention. In Glengary Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin started by telling a group of employees that they were all fired and that they had one week to get their job back. He got their attention.
  2. Interest. The pitch needs to generate interest. Quite simply, people don’t care about YOU; they care about them. Make the pitch about them and you will win. This can be accomplished by asking a question. Questions have always been, and always will be, far more engaging than statements. Don’t just ask a question though; make the question about a problem THEY have.
  3. Desire. Do they desire what you have to say If you remember one thing from this article; people BUY on emotion and JUSTIFY with logic.
  4. Action. What do you want your audience to DO? Make sure you close with your ASK. Be as explicit and detailed — yet still concise — as possible.


The framework sounds simple, right? Well, there are a few things you can do to stand out.


The Pattern Interrupt


This is incredibly important. To stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to say or do something DIFFERENT – something authentic.Something uniquely you.


Think about the last time you drove home. How many times did you change lanes? Can’t remember? That’s because your mind was on autopilot.



This is the way that most people go through most of their day and it is normal. Now, think about a major event. I bet you can remember specific details. This is because it turned off your human autopilot.


Mad Libs


I am not a proponent of boiler plate statements. They don’t read authentically, which is a cornerstone to building relationships. However, there is a way to start thinking about distilling your thoughts down into a crisp and concise statement.


Consider the following statements; which reads better?


I am a sales consultant.




I teach managers the secrets of creating authentic connections that gets immediate results.


Clearly the second statement generates more interest and curiosity. For example,


What secrets?

What results?


The point here is that building a powerful statement doesn’t have to be hard. Ever play Mad Libs? It is a word game where you fill in the blanks with the right words. For your elevator pitch, try this:


“I help/teach ________ (ideal client) to ________ (feature) so they can _________ (benefit).”

Don’t expect your first time through this exercise to generate your best and final version. Your Mad Libs statement is a work in progress. Like good wine, it will get better over time. Remember, your statement should be AUTHENTIC and INTERESTING.


Get to Yes


You want your audience to identify with you. People are psychologically predisposed to gravitate toward things they identify and agree with. Use that to your advantage. Share an inspirational quote, story, or fact that people can’t help but agree with. The goal is to get your listener to “buy in.”


A statement like, “We’re more connected than ever, but yet…more disconnected than ever,” could work wonders in the right circumstances.


Keep it Simple


Another key component of the elevator pitch is the simplicity. There is a famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman that basically reads, “If you can’t explain it in simple terms, you don’t understand it yourself.” This is a cornerstone of a good elevator pitch. Elegant simplicity. You and your audience should clearly understand what you are about. Explaining things in simple terms sounds simple, but it can be incredibly challenging.    


Elicit Curiosity


The goal of an elevator pitch is to elicit curiosity and start a conversation. Great conversations are the result of both sides asking questions. Your pitch should open up this dialogue.


So, the average elevator ride in New York City is 118 seconds.That is the length of time you have to make an impact. Are you up for the challenge?


Let’s give it a try. In the comments below, give me a sentence that describes you and what you do.


As always, thanks for reading!


-Amy V.