What are the steps to an effective elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is one of the most important assets for every entrepreneur. It can open up many doors, referrals, and funds, or send them running. Even if you never plan to do any active networking in person, you need one, and a strong one.

Check out these eight steps to really making the most of this tool and opportunity…

1. Realize How Important An Elevator Pitch Really Is

A well thought out and polished elevator pitch is essential. You can live without ever having a business card. Maybe you can show up in your pajamas and still rocking an iPhone.

Yet, no matter how well put together you are with everything else, and even if you have the best product ever invented and the most beautiful code, it won’t matter without this.

From months and even years in advance of launching your startup or raising your seed round, through your Series D and exit, this is going to be your most valuable asset.

Your pitch deck, product or website won’t be seen unless you master the steps to an effective elevator pitch

Storytelling is everything which is something that you will need to master. First, you will do this on your elevator pitch and then on your own pitch deck.

On the pitch deck, this is being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).

If you want a more robust pitch deck template you can use for free the one I created below which has been used already by thousands of entrepreneurs to raise millions.

2. Know The Most Important Elements Of An Elevator Pitch

An effective elevator pitch should just be one or two lines. It’s literally something you can get through in part of a very short elevator ride, dozens of times in a speed networking, and everywhere else you’ll bump into humans for a few seconds at a time.

When it comes to the steps to an effective elevator pitch remember that you can back it up with another paragraph that goes more in-depth throughout the pitch, but any longer than a sentence or two and your tongue will be tripping over itself or you’ll lose them completely.

Ideally, a powerful and effective elevator pitch should:

  • Say who you are
  • Say what you do
  • State who your ideal clients are
  • Convey your value
  • Explain how you are different (your USP)
  • Grab their attention and get them to ask a follow-up question, offer a referral or want to take action

For example: 

“I’m the co-founder of venture X, which helps entrepreneurs raise rounds of $100M or more, and structure exits of $250M or larger.”

Or

“I’m the founder of startup X, which helps Fintech startups scale 10x faster by (blank) and (blank)”

3. Write It Out

One of the steps to an effective elevator pitch is without a doubt to write out.

It may sound good in your head now. What does it look like on paper? This will help you keep in concise, hone the words to perfection, and commit it to memory. 

You may even want to carry this on a card in your wallet or as a note on your phone or as a screensaver.

4. Test & Get Feedback

Improve it by testing it out. Friends, family, cofounders, your fundraising coach, and your uber driver can all be great initial sounding boards.

Of course, they may all give you conflicting edits if you ask. Though they may give you some valuable suggestions too.

Don’t get too hung up on this initial part out of the different steps to an effective elevator pitch. Do keep improving as you go. Each word you use can make a difference in its effectiveness.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the most important steps to an effective elevator pitch is to practice it every day. Repeat it ten times in the morning, and keep rehearsing so it is automatic and natural.

It may feel weird to repeat the first few times. Just like any script or pitch. That will pass as it becomes second nature.

6. Use Your Elevator Pitch Everywhere

Everyone you pass or run into is a prospect to try your elevator pitch on. At first, it is practice. Though everyone you meet can be a potential prospect or referral source for some part of your venture from funding to recruiting to customers. 

Don’t dismiss your taxi driver, the gas station attendant, the people seriously underdressed next to you, or anyone. You don’t know who they know, who they are or will be tomorrow, what they are working on, what influence they have, or the value you can offer them. 

It’s easy. Just ask them what they do, or how they would describe what they do. 99 times out of 100 they’ll probably ask you back. That’s your cue.

7. Keep Tweaking It

What you are working on and what stage you are at will probably be much different in 18 months from now. You may be on a whole new round of fundraising. You may be looking to recruit your next executive team or your next 100 employees. Or you may even be considering exiting your business for hundreds of millions of dollars or at least moving into a new geographic region. You’ll still need an elevator pitch. Keep updating it.

8. Use It Everywhere

Your elevator pitch or at least a version of it may also make a great tagline, slogan, mission statement or other content. 

Use it. Use it for seamless branding, social media profile bios, on your website, and as a template for your team. 

Summary

An elevator pitch can be your most valuable asset as a professional, entrepreneur and startup founder. Recognize its potential value. Get a good one. Use it often and you will be well on your way to mater the steps to an effective elevator pitch.

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