Blog: Elevator Speech

The elevator speech—and the efforts beyond for raising money—are the most important personal sales activities an entrepreneur can experience.

The cash phase starts with image. The elevator speech is a pitch and should show passion and confidence but, for sure, not arrogance.

I don’t know how the term “elevator speech” got started, but I learned early in my marriage—when I was in an elevator with my wife—that she could learn more about a person’s life in a minute than I could learn in a lifetime. After running out of family and friend contributions, the pitch for money ultimately needs to go to strangers.

The first step in developing an elevator speech is to be sure to include three vital points:

  1. there is a market need;
  2. you have a match; and
  3. you have a plan to develop a new market or penetrate an existing one.

It doesn’t matter if the [elevator] speeches are 30-seconds, 90-seconds, or longer in length—just remember that the above three points are mandatory—and that the longer the pitch-time allowed, the more details can then be added, about them.

Through the years I’ve seen some entrepreneurs that could really do an effective one in 90 seconds and others that would get lost trying to put the essentials in.

In a Tech Coast Angel contest a couple years back, the two winners were able to get the total story (the information that would be the intent in their presentation) in 90 seconds. The winners proved that could be done in the time allowed. They were not only putting out the word they were physically moving up and down to get the message across, it was almost like they were trained in Hollywood. they commented on 10 essential items they would comment in their 12 slide presentations.

The biggest problem I’ve seen is that many presenters basically recite their story. In my mind that limits the passion needed. I was working with one entrepreneur who decided to recite from memory. When he stumbled for a few seconds, it killed the whole pitch presentation. Afterwards I told him how disappointed I was, because he knew the material inside and out, and he didn’t have to try to memorize.

The objective of the speech is to create an interest, and hook in the audience— whether it be one individual or a group. (Note: The best word I can think of for an investor to believe in is comfort). Credibility can lead to trust and trust to comfort. It’s necessary to do everything possible to ensure that an investor is comfortable so that their hand isn’t shaking and they can sign that ever-important big check.)