Elevator pitches...size does matter
prepping for a conference
May 26, 2022, Dina-Marie Weineck
It is conference season. Most people think that researching other delegates and printing pretty business cards is what diligent conference prep looks like. The truth is, who you show up as and your mental preparation are FAR more important than the business card (although I do love a pretty biz card).
Conferences: I produced and spoke at one, attended one, and will coach at yet another one in June. In other words, I have and am about to hear a lot of elevator pitches. In a coaching environment, I don´t care so much about hearing any kind of succinct statement of what you do. There, we go beyond a simple pitch and uncover what is holding you back from manifesting your vision and standing by your mission. We look at who you need to become and what you need to overcome in your journey towards your vision. So that…
…when you do attend a conference to network, enrol potential business partners and investors into your vision, both your words and being attract the right people to you.
That´s right. There are two key things here: Who you are. What you say.
Who you are: Setting intentions:
See, conferences are a huge money and time investment. They cost anywhere between fifty and thousands of dollars. Additionally, you have to clear most of your typical schedule AND budget for lodging and travel. In order to make the most of it, you want to be clear on what you want to get out of the conference. Ask yourself:
Why am I attending?
What is my ideal outcome? / What are my objectives?
What questions do I want answered? (Someone last week told me their objective was to find out if they still want to be a part of this industry. That´s such a wonderful question to go into a conference with.)
What new contacts do I wish to create?
Ultimately, I ask myself:
In order for this conference to be a success for me, how will I need to show up?
Here´s how I approach this question every time:
On the way to the conference, I typically write a report about the conference as if it had already happened. I write about how I felt, how I chose to approach other delegates, how I introduced myself, and what opportunities emerged. I then read the report every morning before I head to the conference center.
The more I lean into this mental prep, the more grounded and focused I am during the conference, the better results in direct and long-term ROI (return on investments) I typically get, and the more fun I have building relationships!
What you say: Getting your elevator pitch in order.
I actually don´t like the term elevator pitch. There is nothing pitchy about an elevator pitch. If done right, your introduction invites the opposite person into a conversation, not a sale. You might call it an introduction or impact statement; my artistic clients call it an artist statement.
However, I revert back to calling it ´elevator pitch´ due to the early days of my business (call it nostalgia): Then, I found myself in an elevator with a delegate of a truly impactful organization. We made introductions and mine, somewhere between the 50th and 40th floor, directly led to an invitation to collaborate with this organization. 5 years later, I still work with many representatives of this organization as individual clients. To this day, this connection is a huge source of revenue, referrals, new clients, and new business opportunities. So… about that ‘elevator pitch´:
Briefly, in no more than two sentences, you want to state what you do, who you do it for, and why.
Let´s break this down a bit:
Why do you even need an elevator pitch?
Glad you asked. People are busy at conferences and being able to state clearly what you do will be intriguing and draw someone into a proper conversation. Therein, you can go deep and establish an actual relationship instead of simply exchanging business cards. You will be remembered.
What´s the elevator pitch supposed to do?
It is supposed to spark interest, curiosity, a follow up question and a conversation. What it is not supposed to do is leave me wondering what in the world you do. I recently had a founder in the crypto world talk at me for 10 minutes at an event and I had absolutely no idea what he was doing. No surprises here when he said that after five years of bootstrapping, he still hadn´t managed to enrol a single investor into his vision.
How do I create this statement, then?
Over the years, I have created and put to use a step-by-step process for this. It is known amongst my clients as The Statement. Here it is:
- You want to look at all of the projects you´ve got going on. Write them down, one by one. These are projects, types of clients, products, offers, etc. All the things that either generate revenue directly or create free value for your community.
- For each of these projects, write down A) what it does, B) who it´s for, and C) what transformation* it creates.
*Quick word on transformation. Meant here is the transformation the customer experiences in going from the state they are in BEFORE using your product to the improved and better state your product helps your customer achieve. In other words, this speaks to the impact of your product.
- Look at each of the products´ descriptions and look for overlaps and recurrences. For WHAT, circle all of the recurring words in one colour. Do the same for WHO and IMPACT.
- On a separate page, write down these recurring words, narrowing it down to fewer and fewer that capture the meaning of all words in the three respective categories.
- Now, fill in this sentence: “I (or Company) [WHAT] for [WHO] so that [IMPACT].”
This might still sound a bit choppy. So let´s continue:
- Play around with the wording and the words of that sentence until you settle on one or two sentences that fill YOU with joy and pride.
Here is something I heard last week: “If you can say what you do in 7 words, you´ll make money with it. If you can say it in 5, you´ll make a lot of money.” I “reveal and realize bold possibilities.” 5 words. You?
- Go back to all of your offers/products and apply the statement to each of these: Does the statement hold true for every single one of your offers/products?
- If they do, congratulations!
- If they do not, one of two things is true: either, you need to tweak your statement slightly OR (and this is a bit more likely at this stage) the product which the statement is untrue for is not fully in alignment with your mission and vision and requires reconsideration.
- TRIAL-RUN your statement. Get on the phone with colleagues and existing business partners and solicit their honest feedback: Is it a fit? Does this invite conversation? Do you see the company reflected in this statement?
Now, you are ready to test it on people outside your company: Be BRAVE! You get to try this statement on tons of people at these conferences and tweak it along the way.
Ultimately, if you create your statement using this process, the statement itself becomes a filter both internally and externally.
Internally, it acts as a litmus test which you can assess existing products and new product ideas against: If the statement holds true, both are likely aligned with the company. Otherwise, it is either a sign of evolution – your statement requires updates – or of a mis-match – your product requires updates, evolution, or abandonment.
Externally, the statement attracts people you really want to do business with. You´re no longer wasting your time collecting business cards and, instead, are creating genuine and profound conversations that lead to prosperous relationships.
Once both the mental prep and elevator pitch are done, you pack up your business cards, portable charger, shoes, and a smile, and you are ready to hit the conference road!
I would love to hear YOUR statement – it might not be “final” and that is alright. If you email me your statement at firstname.lastname@example.org, in a voice note or written, I promise I will take a look and offer feedback.
Diving back into conference follow-up emails,