Check out these Elevator Pitch suggestions from our friends at the Harvard Business Review:
Keep it short. In his book Leading, venture capital investor Michael Moritz tells the story of two Stanford graduate students who walked into his office at Sequoia Capital and delivered the most concise business plan he had ever heard. Sergey Brin and Larry Page told Moritz: “Google organizes the world’s information and makes it universally accessible.” In 10 words, that log-line led to Google’s first major round of funding. Moritz said the pitch was clear and had a sense of purpose.
A log-line should be easy to say and easy to remember. As an exercise, challenge yourself to keep it under 140 characters, short enough to post on the old version of Twitter (before the platform allowed 280 characters per tweet). At 77 characters, the Google pitch makes the grade.
Identify one thing you want your audience to remember. Steve Jobs was a genius at identifying the one thing he wanted us to remember about a new product. In 2001 it was that the original iPod allowed you to carry “1,000 songs in your pocket.” In 2008 it was that the MacBook Air was “the world’s thinnest notebook.” Apple still uses this strategy today. Executives repeat a one-sentence description when presenting new products. This same log-line goes on to appear on the Apple website and in the company’s press releases.
The “one thing” should cater to the needs of your audience. A sales professional for a large tech company recently told me a logline that he uses to address the needs of his audience — IT buyers: “Our product will reduce your company’s cell phone bill by 80%.” With one sentence, his customers want to know more because his log-line solves a specific problem and will make them look like heroes to their bosses. Above all, the log-line is easy to remember and gives people a story they can take to other decision makers in their organizations.
Make sure your team is on the same page. Every person who speaks on behalf of your company or sells your product should deliver the same log-line. For example, I worked with top leaders at SanDisk, the flash memory company, to prepare them for a major financial analyst conference. Seven executives delivered five hours of presentations. I suggested that — before going into nitty-gritty financial details — each person should deliver the same log-line at the beginning of their presentations, and then end their presentations by repeating it once more. As a group we decided on the log-line: “In the coming decade, flash will be bigger than you think.”
The log-line was meant to stir up excitement for all the products flash memory would enable, like iPads, laptops, smartphones, and cloud services. As the conference concluded, the first financial blog post that appeared carried the headline: “Flash will be bigger than you think.” Log-lines attract attention; consistent log-lines are memorable and repeatable.
If you can’t communicate your pitch in one short sentence, don’t give up. Sometimes the language will come to you immediately, other times it might take more practice. Be patient. Once you master the log-line, you will be able to easily clarify your ideas and help the audience retain, remember, and act on them.