5 Mistakes to avoid in your elevator pitch

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Elevator pitches – short introductions to your product or services – are important for gaining interest in your company. They are the short pitches that you can with potential investors or possible customers. This is our list of the top 5 mistakes to avoid in introductory meetings with potential investors and other stakeholders.

Mistake 1: Trying to cram everything in

One of the most common mistakes to make in an elevator pitch is to try and cram everything in. Sixty seconds (or even sixty minutes) is not enough to explain all details of your firm – so don’t try.

Instead of trying to put everything in, think carefully about the areas that you really want the person that you are speaking with to remember. What is it that makes your product distinct from others, and what would indicate that you are likely to be successful. 

Mistake 2: Going on and on, past the point that the other person is listening

Another thing to remember is not to go on and on past the point that the other person is listening. Some people will be genuinely interested in your business, others will be less so. A danger is that you are actually speaking with someone that could be interested – either as a customer or a potential investor, but their interest declines as you continue with a very long and drawn-out introduction. 

In fact, instead of thinking of your elevator pitch as a 60-second speech, it can be useful to consider a 30, 60, and 120-second version of it. This allows you to have an initial overview of your firm, that you can expand upon should the person that you are speaking with show interest. Viewing it more as a conversation than a pitch can help you step out of the ‘presentation mode’ mindset and actually consider it more a flowing 2-way conversation. 

Mistake 3: Assuming that the other person knows all the details that you do

Another mistake to avoid is assuming that the person that you are speaking with will have the same background as you. If you spend all day working on a particular area, it is possible to fall into the trap of assuming that everyone has the same detailed knowledge of the setting. Acronyms become second nature and the opportunity that you are pursuing seems obvious.

There is a delicate balance between explaining the details and explaining too many details. Part of striking this balance though involves thinking through how to explain your company in an accessible way. It is not a question of covering every detail, but thinking through what are the important things that someone else outside of the setting would need to know to find this interesting. 

Mistake 4: Not listening to the questions that they ask

Not listening to questions that are asked is a mistake that can quickly cause the person that you are speaking with to lose interest. This falls into the trap of assuming that what you have to say is more important than what the other person wants to know. Especially in one-on-one interactions, it is arguably much more important to engage with the other person than to get through each of your talking points. 

Mistake 5: Failing to take the interactions seriously

A final mistake is simply not taking the interactions that you have with others seriously. This is often the mistake of quickly making a judgment about the other person – that may well be wrong – that they are not important.

The problem is that oftentimes you have very limited knowledge of the person that you are speaking to’s actual importance. They may be a possible source of investment, or they may know others that are. It is dangerous to treat someone as unimportant because once you have, it is very hard to turn the conversation around should you discover that they are actually more important than you presumed.