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4 misconceptions that can spoil your elevator pitch (and how to avoid them!)

Have you ever been the victim of a bad elevator pitch? Or worse: Are you the one giving that pitch? If you want to create a good elevator speech that engages your listeners and generates more leads, be sure to tackle these four misconceptions first.

When bad elevator speeches happen to good people…

We’ve all been there.

You’re at a networking event, or at a cocktail party, or sitting on an airplane, and all of a sudden, you find yourself on the receiving end of a mind-numbing elevator speech.

It’s bland.

It’s boring.

It’s never-ending.

You try to stay engaged. You really do. But no matter how hard you try, your mind keeps wandering off like a kid in Toys “R” Us.

Before you know it, you’re having your own discussion in your head, “Did I lock the door when I left this morning? I wonder if I should take the dog to the groomer this weekend. Wow, I’m hungry. I need to get some snacks…”

Your mind has checked out.

There’s no bringing you back.

“Course correcting” a bad elevator pitch

Birds on a Migration Course

No one wants to be on the receiving end of a bad elevator pitch.

But more important, no one wants to deliver a dull elevator speech! We want to give the best pitch we can.

We want to be engaging. Effective. Likeable.

We want our audience to eagerly lean in and say, “Tell me more.”

The good news is, if you currently have an elevator pitch that falls flat, you can improve it.

But to do so, it helps to understand…

Where do things go awry?

Misconceptions... Chick with a Rubber Duck

Certainly, the format and words you use to create an elevator pitch play an important role. But I find that many people get derailed before they even start putting their words together.

They have misconceptions that set them up to deliver a bad pitch.

For example…

Misconception #1:  Everyone is a potential customer.

If you’re trying to sell to every person you speak with, you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself.

You may unintentionally come across as pushy. Or, you may feel like you’re being pushy, and your audience will pick up on your discomfort.

Either way, you’re on the fast track to losing your listener.

(Not to mention, not every person is a good fit for your business!)

To take the pressure off, adjust your mindset. Your elevator speech is simply a chance to explore whether there is:

  1. A reason to continue a conversation with your listener.
  2. A chance to ask for an introduction to someone else.

Think of the people you speak with as potential sources of referrals to others. Do they know anyone who may fit your ideal customer profile?

This approach:

  • Takes the pressure off you.
  • Takes the pressure off your listeners. It lowers their walls.
  • Can make giving your elevator pitch a lot more fun. It’s like playing “Go Fish” for leads. (I’ll elaborate on this idea in an upcoming blog post.)

New mindset: This is a great chance to explore whether my listener knows a business that could be a good fit for me.

Misconception #2:  It’s okay if I’m not clear on what makes my business special. People will figure it out as I talk.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing your elevator pitch or writing your website content. If you don’t know what makes your business special, your messaging is going to be muddy.

And for the record, muddy messages are ineffective messages.

People tune them out!

Personally, I think this is one of the main reasons that elevator speeches tend to go awry quickly.

If you aren’t clear on what makes your business special — or you just have a hard time articulating your value — reach out to a brand writer who can help you find the right positioning and words.

New mindset: I want to clearly communicate how we’re different.

Misconception #3:  I have to impress people with all that I do.

You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy.

We don’t want to waste our time.

With that in mind, it’s helpful to remember a powerful question as you create your elevator pitch: “What’s in it for me?”

Or in this case, what’s in it for your listener?

  • Why should your listener care about your company?
  • How does your company make people’s lives or businesses better?
  • How do you solve your customers’ pains and frustrations?

Rather than focusing your elevator pitch on all the things you do, center your elevator pitch on how you make your customers’ lives or businesses better.

Paint a picture of your ideal audience and how you help that audience.

You don’t have to share your company’s entire story during your elevator pitch.

You simply have to pique someone’s interest. And a great way to pique interest is to make your elevator pitch about your listener — or people they may know.

New mindset: My listener wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”

Misconception #4:  I need to cast a wide net, so I don’t miss out on opportunities.

You want to cast a wide net, so you don’t miss out on anyone who could be a lead! The challenge is, in widening your net, you create holes in your story. You have to dilute how you talk about your business and your target audience. You have to be too general and vague.

How many times have you met a realtor who tells you that he works with anyone who wants to buy a home?

Right. Got that.

Unfortunately, the realtor’s vague description doesn’t help you understand who may be a good fit for him. In speaking so generally, he doesn’t give you any reason to want to learn more about his business or to think of a good referral for him.

In contrast, let’s pretend the realtor told you, “I specialize in young couples who are starting families. They’re cramped for space. Their current home is bursting at the seams.”

Now the realtor has started to paint a picture for you. He’s made it easier for you to think of colleagues, family members, or friends you know who may be growing their families — and outgrowing their homes.

New mindset: The more specific I can be about my business and target audiences, the more likely I am to get good referrals.

Curious Robin

So what now?

Are you ready to write an elevator pitch that captivates your audience? Get some tips on how to write a more engaging 30-second commercial.

Is your less-than-stellar elevator speech a symptom of a bigger problem? Discover whether you may need some help with your brand message platform.

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Until next time!