The Elevator Pitch

Summing up your business idea to a potential investor in under a minute is no easy task. But the key to a successful elevator pitch is preparation.

By Dina Al-Wakeel

Alexander Graham Bell said that, before anything else, preparation is the key to success. This goes double for the entrepreneur crafting an elevator pitch, a 30 to 60 second summary of your business idea that aims to get an angel investor reaching for their check book.

If you manage to set up a brief meeting with a busy potential investor, what’s the first thing that you should do to make an impact? And what’s the thing about your work that’s most important to them? To make the meeting less stressful, put your thoughts in order to outline what’s important, said Mary von Herrmann, a communication consultant and a senior business advisor at CoachMarket.

“Think about the first, second, and the third things that you will want to share with any investor,” she advised.

To put things into perspective, von Herrmann advised a certain structure that you can follow when making an elevator pitch. Start with your company and the products you produce, the impact your organization has had, and a conclusion to restate what you’re about and a call for action.

Then make sure to practice. Hear the words come out of your mouth in front of your employees, colleagues, your family and children, or even to yourself in front of a mirror, said von Herrmann. The real sizzle, she added, comes when you are able to connect with the people in front of you, so make it as interesting as possible using vocal tone, vocal pace, gestures, posture, and eye contact, and keep a certain amount of energy.

But the most important rule is to be concise, after all it’s a 30 or a 60 second pitch. If you can be precise, chances are that you can make a strong first connection. “We generally have a very short time to grab someone’s attention, so keep your communication brief. Don’t put 10 kilos in a 2-kilo bag. The only choice you have is to select the information that you can deliver in 60 seconds. Investors listen to similar people all day, so it really helps to get to your point quickly,” stressed von Herrmann.

Before addressing the investors, try to understand the different characteristics of the person, or people, in front of you to be able to make a maximum impact. Each person is one of four; expressive, who enjoys high energy, competitive, and looks at the big picture; amiable, who is team oriented, social, and avoids conflicts; analytical, who is systematic and doesn’t like risk; or a driver that is objective, impatient, and outcome-oriented.

The more aware of the different personalities you are, the more you will be able to address them, grab their attention and, most importantly, create relevance in everything you say, explained von Herrmann. For instance, if you are addressing an analytically-minded person, communicate with precision, explain risks and mitigation, and show that your ideas have been tested. While if your investor or client appears more expressive, then provide a forward-looking approach.

But whatever you do, said the expert, always go into an investor pitch prepared and don’t be afraid to boast about the brilliance of your business idea.