The Art Of The Pitch
Pitching an idea is tough. It requires you to choose just the few words time will allow and paint a picture that will resonate in the other person’s mind. It’s a little bit of a Jedi mind trick.
To complicate things, you will need at least 4 types of pitches to suit context, but most importantly, the timeline of the relationship you are trying to build. Try to see this as a game in which you gain access to the next level by completing a quest.
I have come up with a simple guideline that I call the 3-30-3-30 Principle. Let me explain.
It stands for 3 seconds / 30 seconds / 3 minutes / 30 minutes and it follows a typical, gradual relationship building technique.
3 seconds is the time you have to introduce yourself in a public setting, say a networking event. Mine is something like: ‘Hello, my name is Chrys, I’m a creative thinking business coach.’
If my party doesn’t walk away, I’ll eventually have an opportunity to talk more. People are polite and they will ask you to elaborate. That’s a double-sided sword because you don’t want to pitch right away. And that is why you will develop your short elevator pitch which is 30 seconds.
The 30 seconds seems a lot but it is not. You have to be interesting, concise, make sense and open the door for your party to start a conversation. Why? Because you want the other person to talk. People love to talk about what they do (that’s why you are here, no?). But listeners get the praises. Think of the 30 seconds pitch as a platform to introduce what you do but then ask about the other person’s interests / business. Try and find anchors to attach problems or challenges you hear to what you do. Keep the conversation going. Your 30 seconds pitch is a tool, not an end.
In a cold call setting, you should aim at 15 seconds top. So, think hard about the words you are going to use…
Most people think in words, but they all dream in images!
The long form elevator pitch is your 3 minutes version. Here, you have more time, but the trick is to quickly capture interest and keep it for 3 minutes. I often think of it as my 3 seconds + 30 seconds + 2 minutes example / business case / application of my offer with 27 seconds to spare! If you think 3 minutes is short, try to remember your high school book talk when 3 minutes seemed like an eternity to fill. You can cram a lot in 3 minutes and you should not! Remember, this is a conversation tool. Yes, you want to make good use of your time, but also yes, you need to take that opportunity to build a rapport. Be interesting.
The Holy Grail is what comes next: the 30 minutes presentation deck. Yes, Powerpoint if you have to. But also whiteboard, physical props or even just your pretty self talking eloquently can suffice. Now, time will fly in your head, but to your audience, it’s a helluva boring journey if you ramble for 30 minutes. Remain concise. Be precise. Create pictures in your audience’s mind; most people think in words, but they all dream in images! Allow them to imagine what they could do with your product / service / person.
Does it end here? Absolutely not. You will have to start over all the time when you meet new people or are introduced to colleagues of the people you already pitched to. Keep going. One day, if you made a really good job, you will hear someone say your 30 seconds version to someone they want to introduce to you. You won.