Ah, the era of terrible auditions on American Idol. That’s right; I am using a reference that certainly would’ve been more appropriate in 2006 since Randy Jackson hasn’t been on American Idol since 2014. But every time I hear that phrase in my head, I think of someone making a business pitch, not singing off-key.
Depending on who you talk to, giving a pitch for your business or idea is a given, no-brainer, OR it is a nuisance to everyone around you. Some live and die by the elevator pitch – a quick 45-60 second summary of why someone important should care about what you do. Others insist it is a waste of time to develop.
What if it isn’t either/or?
As with most choices in life, there is a time and place for any tool. You wouldn’t bring a mallet when you need a hard hammer, and you certainly shouldn’t take a hammer to a leaking pipe.
When sharing what you do and why with others, you need a full toolbelt to select the right tool for the situation. If you happen to be in the elevator with Mark Cuban and he asks, “what do you do?” You will want to communicate it clearly before that door opens in the lobby. But, you will need a slightly different version of that pitch if you are at a party or are asked to present to a group of leaders in your target market.
So to hone your toolkit, here are some high-level tips to keep in mind no matter where the “where” is:
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- Make your pitch about the value of what you provide, not about what you do.
- Find hooks and stories that demonstrate your value to different audiences – select the pitch mechanics based on who you are talking to.
- If there is time, ask some questions to discover more about who you are talking with before you finish your entire pitch.
- Approach the pitch as a conversation, not a monologue.
It is okay to be a little pitchy, but you must be able to read social cues and make it about the value to your audience.
- Hone your pitches so you can reach into your toolbelt based on the situation.
- Don’t be pushy, weird, or annoying.
- Treat it like a conversation between two people trading value – because that is what any business relationship should be.