An elevator pitch is a popular term for how an idea can be expressed as quickly and as persuasively as possible. It’s an important tool for entrepreneurs, if only to have a well-defined vision in their minds of what they’re looking to accomplish. Succinctness is valuable for people who are seeking to achieve something that hasn’t been done before – and usually trying to convince others to come along for the ride. If you’re able to explain exactly what you’re trying to do and why it’s so important in a short, simple speech, you’re likely to be headed in the right direction.
Where it All Began
The origins of the term are a bit obscure, and there are conflicting accounts of who should be credited with coining it, but a likely story comes from Illene Rosenweig and Michael Caruso (former Editor for Vanity Fair). Not far from the name, the elevator pitch would be an accidental meeting with an important person in an elevator. If the conversation was interesting or valuable, it would potentially lead to a future meeting.
Why They’re So Necessary
Although not much business happens in elevators any more, a concise and effective short statement about what your idea is and why it’s valuable can open a lot of doors. In the information age, we’re used to a lot of noise coming at us, and attention spans are shorter than ever. If you can crystallize your idea so that it sounds both complete and appealing in a very short span of time, you increase the likelihood that you’ll be taken seriously – and build a distant audience that may be unwilling to devote any more time than a minute or two.
How They Should Sound
Your elevator pitch shouldn’t be any longer than two minutes at the outside, but to even have a chance at getting your idea across, it should be at least thirty seconds. That’s the minimum amount of time it can possibly take to outline why your idea matters. It usually involves stating the problem that you’re addressing and quickly explaining how your concept elegantly solves it. Obviously, you should choose your words very carefully, because any extraneous information will instantly derail your message. The idea is to project both confidence and competence, and being able to express your idea clearly in a very short time is a good way of communicating those qualities.
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Here are some examples of award-winning elevator pitches, both concerning novel business ideas. You’ll notice that they’re each a minute to 2 minutes in length. A minute is the sweet spot for elevator pitches, so it’s a good idea to hone yours until you’re as close to that as possible.
The heated stadium seat:
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‘Why Your Elevator Pitch is Important, and How to Master It’
‘Wikipedia Elevator Pitch’