Nailing your elevator pitch

elevator pitch scott keyser

For the past few weeks, I’ve been coaching a coach — a lovely lady called Andrea. We’ve been working together on her value proposition and elevator pitch. She’s a highly experienced and talented executive and leadership coach.

This week we’ve made some good progress on her elevator pitch. Within that, I’ve helped her to nail what I call her soundbite. Essentially, that’s a 20- to 30-second articulation of the essence of what she does — the core of her work.

I’d urge anybody who’s running their own business or who’s a business owner to nail their soundbite, whether working with me or someone else (this isn’t a sales plug!). It’s so important to do that.

Anda (Andrea’s nickname) and I have nailed that in one paragraph. I want to share it with you because I think it’s instructive to anybody who leads a team or runs their own business.

Anda’s elevator pitch

Here’s the 30-second elevator pitch that Anda and I’ve developed:

“I’m Coach Anda, and I’m a leadership coach. I work with strong, driven leaders who are already good at what they do, but who want their team to be great. If they want to have a great team, however, first they have to be a great leader. That’s why we start with self-mastery. Whatever storms of change are swirling around them and their team, self-mastered leaders stand quietly in the eye of the storm, responding wisely to new threats and opportunities. I help good leaders become great ones, because great leaders lead great teams.”

That’s 94 words, and runs to almost exactly 30 seconds in length. Now I’d like to unpick it, particularly the beginning where she says she works with ‘strong, driven leaders.’

For any soundbite to stand out and not be bland, you need to evoke some kind of problem, issue, pain point, challenge or conflict. What Anda experiences is that strong, experienced leaders come to her, essentially saying, ‘Help me fix my team. I want my team to be great.’

What she does is throws that back to them with, ‘If you want your team to be great, you have to be a great leader.’ I’ve tried to capture that in the soundbite. So what we’re doing is modeling the message.

Juxtaposition in the opening

Within that opening, there’s a mini-conflict, or juxtaposition.

Let’s look at it again, with the ‘good/great’ juxtaposition in bold:

“I’m Coach Anda, and I’m a leadership coach. I work with strong, driven leaders who are already good at what they do, but who want their team to be great…”

Placing responsibility

Then, she throws the onus back on the leader:

“If they want to lead a great team, however, first they have to be a great leader. That’s why we start with self-mastery…”

In Anda’s work, to put it crudely, she helps the leader to fix themselves first, before they fix their team. This makes perfect sense because the leaders sits at the hub of that system, if you like. She’s throwing the ball back into their court.

More Juxtapositions

Then it’s time to bring out the idea of change:

“Whatever storms of change are swirling around them and their team, self-mastered leaders stand quietly in the eye of the storm…”

That’s another juxtaposition, or contrasting pairs of words or phrases. There’s the idea of being in the middle of a maelstrom, but ‘self-mastered’ means quietness, calmness and composure in the eye of the storm.

After that, I threw in the idea of ‘responding wisely’ because one of the things Anda had said to me was that leaders who haven’t achieved self-mastery tend to make reactive decisions. So I wanted to contrast the idea of reacting (a sort of knee-jerk reflex) with the idea of wise responses:

“…responding wisely to new threats and opportunities…”

The elevator pitch’s punchline

Then the punchline is another juxtaposition. At the end of the 30-second elevator pitch, she says…

“I help good leaders become great ones, because great leaders lead great teams.”

In that one line, we’ve captured the idea that she works with both the leader and their team.

A final word on the elevator pitch

I hope this has been instructive, interesting and helpful to you. The bottom line for us, as communicators and writers, is that if what we’re writing or talking about has no inherent pain, issue, problem or challenge, it’s going to be dull.

The reason for that goes back to the ancient origins of drama: conflict creates drama. Without conflict, you don’t have drama. You don’t have interesting theatre, if you like. This came from the ancient Greek dramatists and its wisdom holds true today.

That’s it for now. I’m Scott Keyser, The Writing Guy, helping technical professionals to find their voice, write Human, and get the results they want from the words they write. Be sure to visit my website and my blog for exciting news, tips and wisdom on writing.