How to Deliver the Perfect Elevator Pitch

Everyone knows that if you are a startup, you have to have your elevator pitch down cold.  It’s what entices prospective partners, employees and investors.  Without it, you have an idea without a voice.  In this post, I discuss the elements and content of the perfect elevator pitch, as well as present some examples of what one might look like.

Before we get into the content of the perfect elevator pitch, let’s look at  the five fundamental elements of the perfect elevator pitch:

1.  Be concise
Every word should be measured and carefully selected. The pitch should be between 300 and 350 words.  How do you fit in everything you want to say in such a small amount of words?  Sit down and write it out before spewing it out.

2.  Don’t speak too fast
It should take you between a minute to a minute-and-a-half to get out the 300 words or so.  Pause for a second or two when shifting to a new concept or idea to signal to the listener that you are transitioning.  In your written version, this would be a new paragraph.

3.  E-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-e
You went through the trouble of carefully selecting the words; now, speak them clearly and exactly.

4.  Be energetic
Pitching the idea your spending your days and nights working on should show your passion and enthusiasm for the idea.  Add some energy into your pitch.  Limited hand gestures that don’t distract from the pitch are helpful, as are facial expressions and tone of voice that stress important words or concepts that you want to draw the listeners attention to.

5.  Practice, practice, practice
While the pitch should come out naturally and genuinely without seeming too rehearsed (see the concept above about inserting energy into your pitch), it should be obvious that you have taken the time to narrowly tailor your message for the listener and that you have pitched your company before.

Everyone knows that if you are a startup, you have to have your elevator pitch down cold.

Now, for the content of the perfect pitch.  Specifically, what should you include in your pitch and in what order?  (Note, that I am using my firm as a straw man here for the sake of the example.  Sorry for the selfless promotion!)

First, introduce yourself, your role and your company.  It should go something like this:

“Hi, I’m Tolis Dimopoulos, the founder and managing attorney of Sophos Law.”

Second, describe in 15-20 words what product or service your company has created, like this:

“At Sophos Law, we have created the perfect combination of corporate legal services and strategic management consulting.”

Third, describe what the product or service looks like:

“Each one of our advisors has both deep legal knowledge and business experience.  In most instances the advisor you work with will have both an MBA with operational experience, as well as a law degree with legal experience.  So, you can not only discuss legal issues that come up, but the business and practical ramifications of the suggested course of action.”

Fourth, describe what problem you have solved or are solving:

“What we’ve actually done is create the country’s first one-stop shop for both legal and strategic business advice.  So, you can obtain all the critical information you need to succeed for one price, under one roof.”

Fifth, describe how your solution works through a typical use case or by providing a demonstration.  Note, that a demonstration is always better, especially when talking about technology.  People will better understand what you are offering if they can see it in action.

“For example, let’s say you are considering bringing in outside capital to finance the continuing operations of your startup.  Our advisors will be able to not only prepare the term sheet for your prospective investment, but also prepare an in depth pro forma financial projection of operations post-investment to see if the investment is the best course of action.”

Sixth, describe the targeted user or users and explain the benefit to each, like this:

“So, now an entrepreneur or early stage startup can work with a single advisor in order to obtain both legal and business advice, thereby saving them time and money.  However, startups that already have either legal or business advisors already as part of their founder team, will find that our advisors also have deep knowledge in legal issues such as corporate formation, corporate governance and securities financings, thereby permitting them to complement the existing team by serving as a business-savvy, outside general counsel.”

Last, conclude with why your product or service is better that your competition, and close your pitch, like this:

“The legal services we provide eliminate unintended conflicts of interest by focusing on the specific needs of startups only.  We price our services to meet the limited financial resources of our clients, while leveraging technology to provide unparalleled responsiveness and accessibility to our clients operating across multiple time zones and around the world.  Give us a try.  We know you’ll rave about your experience.”

There you have it – the perfect elevator pitch in 300-350 words in under a minute-and-a-half.  Now, go give it a try. I know you’ll like it!