I am not a fan of the term ‘elevator pitch’. No particular reason, but it does not quite convey the importance of the issue.

As journalists (editor’s note: might be stretching the truth) we are often bombarded with pitches and it is even worse when we’re at events or happen to mention to someone that we work in the media.

One thing that entrepreneurs love to do is pitch you their startup in order to get coverage. While we accept pitches and value our relationships with the entrepreneurs and their teams, we often have to endure abstract and often confusing pitches.

couple drinking coffee inside coffee shop

With this in mind, we thought it might be useful to provide some tips that we gleaned from experience and research about what makes a perfect elevator pitch. This is not for our benefit, but for the entrepreneur looking to make a sale at a networking event or miraculously meeting an investor who says, “Tell me what you do.”

We have covered similar topics before like How to make your elevator pitch work and A guide to pitching your startup.

We broke it down into 6 simple steps for you to follow.

Less is a lot more 

We cannot stress this enough (editor’s note: We all second this), your pitch needs to be short. Honestly, your elevator pitch needs to be a fine-tuned streamlined piece of art. Here are some words that you should be able to use to describe your pitch:

  • Succinct
  • Clear
  • Practised, but natural
  • Cohesive
  • Passionate

The time and place matter

An unsolicited pitch is the worst type of face-to-face cold calling. Unless someone asks what you do, do not go into excruciating detail about your work and startup. The right environment and a willing audience are crucial to a successful pitch.

Simplicity matters in your elevator pitch

Keep it simple. Do not use jargon or think that everyone knows as much about your industry as you do.

Simple pitches are the most effective at catching people’s attention and then keeping it for a period of time. Complicated pitches either share too much or not enough by way of being confusing.

Jargon just adds to the confusion and can often leave the listener perplexed or always having to ask what you mean.

Know your USP

First of all know what USP stands for – Unique Selling Proposition. Regardless of what you do or what you sell, being able to differentiate yourself from the competition is crucial. Take for example:

  • Uninspired pitch: We are an eCommerce store that sells commodity goods like every other eCommerce store
  • Inspired pitch: We offer our customers the best user experience they’ve ever had when shopping online by …

Neither are wrong, but I wonder which one we would want to know about.

Tell them why they need to listen to you upfront

We provide the best startup and technology news in Southeast Asia from an on-the-ground perspective.

Our pitch to a group of friends and family investors

By giving the listener exactly what you provide right at the beginning they know they are not wasting their time with you. It keeps them hooked while you expand on the issue and share more information.

Find a way to ‘Wow’ them

When you’re talking to a friend or loved one, do they sometimes look bored or try to stifle a yawn? Well, we’ve all been there, but they are stuck with you. Now, any other listener who does not fall into those two categories will not give you another chance, so make sure you grab their attention.

The moment they get hooked. It might be a slight change in posture or a more direct ‘Tell me more’, you know that they are on the hook. That should be what you’re looking for with every elevator pitch.