Oh, the elevator pitch. Everyone is supposed to have one – tucked away in their back pocket, ready to be unleashed. Typically most elevator pitches have been hanging on with their writers since college,  hurriedly scribbled down the night before class. They’ll tweak it depending on the occasion, but after a while the delivery goes stale.

Disclaimer: It may not be appropriate to give your pitch in an actual elevator.

Minds always begin to wander the minute an opener like ‘Our company represents the future of…’ is uttered anyway.

Elevator pitches are important. They are supposed to be able to captivate the attention of an audience of any size, from a boardroom of bigwigs to a colleague in the hallway. You want one that will actually lift you up, rather than one that’ll send you down to the parking lot. While we can’t promise you’ll get a standing ovation at the end of it all, we can assure you that if you follow our advice, you’ll be able to open the door for future business.

1. Stay focused, and don’t hide your objective

Obviously, you want something from the person you’re talking to. You know it, and they know it – it’s just part of networking. The trouble begins when you try and pretend like you just want to chat, or try to catch them off guard by being really roundabout. Don’t beat around the bush and leave them wondering what the heck you want. They’ll quickly realize you’re trying to deceive them and they won’t trust a word you say. So when writing ask yourself – do you want a business card? Or do you want their business? That will help you define the objective that your pitch revolves around.
2. Be a teller, not a seller.

If you walk up to a stranger and then immediately start ranting about all the money your business is making or all the wonderful, phantasmical things your new product can do, they’ll quickly tune you out. We see and hear too many advertisements already, and commercials are boring enough whether they’re coming out of the TV or from the mouth of an actual person. When writing and presenting your pitch, stay grounded. It’s understandable to be excited about your field or business, but you need to realize that whoever is listening has probably heard tons of hyperbolic statements and pitches. Tell them why whatever you’re selling fills a particular niche, and speak to them like you would an actual human being.

3. Update, refresh, and re-write

This step is absolutely key to writing a good pitch. You probably have the bare bones framework of an elevator pitch already created, so work with what you have and shift things around. Write new pieces, or take chunks out. Feel free to experiment until you really like what you hear. Just remember that a great elevator pitch is going to evolve. Even if you wrote a killer speech for an investor’s conference you attended, you’ll still have to change it every time you face a new audience. You don’t want to be the person going around the room at a social media meet-up telling everyone about stock options and bottom lines.

These steps may be more effort than you want to put into a 30 second speech, but a solid elevator pitch will really help you stand out in a crowd. Just remember that the pitch actually only gets your foot in the door – you’ll need to be able to carry on the conversation after your thirty seconds are up. They’ll have questions and concerns, and there’s nothing more unprofessional than staring at them, mouth half opened, trying to collect your thoughts to answer a simple query. A good elevator pitch will sound organic and effortless, and will naturally blend into the rest of the conversation. Relax, be prepared, and you’ll be racking up new business in no time.