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Regarding Entrepreneurship

Breaking Down the Elevator Pitch into Words

May 10th, 2012

In a blog post earlier this year, I wrote about the importance of the ‘Elevator Pitch’ - the ability to explain what your organisation does (and why it is important) in just a few seconds.

Are there benefits in being even more concise? Can your organisation be summarised in just a few words, rather than a few sentances?

mch believes there is value in trying to be more concise. To this end, we continually ask all our clients to nominate just three words which they believe best describes mch. We have summarised all these words in a word cloud, which can be viewed below. In essence we have found it very useful in finding out how we are perceived by those that really matter - our clients.

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Can you explain what you do in just a few seconds?

February 2nd, 2012

A current client of mch’s is the international mentoring organisation Mowgli. Last month it was a great pleasure to assist in Mowgli’s first mentoring experience in the South West of England (and only its second ever programme in the UK). At the end of the three day experience, the entrepreneurs involved gave their ‘Elevator Pitches’. For those unfamiliar with the term, an elevator pitch provides a short summary of one’s organisation, product or service and ideally outlines why it is needed/valuable. Having its origins in America (hence ‘elevator’ rather than ‘lift’) it is based on the following scenario;

You are waiting for an elevator and the door opens. Standing in front of you is your ideal investor/donor/person you would like to work with. It’s the chance of a lifetime, but it only lasts the length of the elevator ride.

Consequently, you have a very short amount of time to make a sufficiently positive impression that the person wants to continue speaking with you when they reach their floor.

There are many different ideas as to what makes a great elevator pitch. In general terms, my own views are it should:

  1. Answer some of the basic ‘W’ questions that someone is likely to have e.g. What?, Who?, Why?, Where?, How?, When?. You’re unlikely to have time to address all of the ‘W’ questions, so initially you need to make a considered guess as to which are most important. It’s then a case of testing your guess by practicing it out on people.

  2. Be simple. To put it another way, have a zero tolerance approach to assumptions: do not assume the person knows your sector and the associated jargon that goes with it.

  3. Focus on the problem that your organisation alleviates or the benefit it brings. This is because at the most fundamental level, people are drawn to things that either bring them pleasure or alleviate pain.

Specifically though, I have found hearing/reading the elevator pitches of other organisations to be most useful in developing an elevator pitch. Consequently, here is mch’s:

We work with third sector organisations….

Who are struggling in areas such as clarity of direction, staff performance, or the delivery of high quality services.

We help these organisations by providing management consultancy, staff development or non-executive director support.

Such help leads to an organisation’s:

  • Beneficiaries receiving improved support
  • Staff and volunteers being more skilled and motivated
  • Donors receiving a greater return on their donation

Ultimately this means our clients generate the positive impact they desire.

As a final thought, an elevator pitch should be considered in a similar light to a CV/resume, in that it should be tailored to different audiences and continually refined.

In the interests of ‘paying it forward’, please share your own elevator pitches by using the comment option below.

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Are you ready to increase your positive impact?