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  • 14 Ways Your Elevator Pitch Is Hurting Your Brand

    What is one common mistake to avoid when delivering an elevator pitch?

    The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

    Kevin Xu1. Starting With Your Name

    Don’t say who you are or the name of your company at the beginning. You need to catch their attention with what you are currently working on, and then leave them with a name or nickname that they can search for online later.   – Kevin XuMebo International

    Natalie McNeil2. Swaying and Moving Your Hands

    When delivering a pitch or any type of presentation, plant your feet firmly on the ground, about hip-width apart. Be mindful of swaying and moving your hands, which can make you come across as nervous and lacking confidence.   – Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World

    Douglas Hutchings3. Talking About the Technology

    Founders love to talk about their technology when they should instead focus on the pain that their technology solves and the value that it creates for their customers. If you hook the audience with a searing pain point, a compelling value proposition, an attractive market and a credible team that can execute, then you will get the follow up to discuss questions they have about the technology.   – Douglas HutchingsPicasolar

    Vladimir Gendelman4. Talking Fast

    Elevator pitches are supposed to be quick, but not because you rattle off as much information as you can in as little time as possible. A good elevator pitch is concise because of how well-thought-out it is. When you slow down to deliver your pitch, you’ll sound much wiser and give your audience time to absorb what you’re saying.   – Vladimir GendelmanCompany Folders, Inc

    Adam Steele5. Comparing Yourself to Another Company

    I find that comparing yourself to another company does you no favors. Tell me you’re the Uber of X, and I am immediately comparing you to Uber. Can you afford for your idea to be compared to Uber? Probably not. You ought to be able to tell me about your idea, without resorting to comparing yourself to another company. If you can’t, well, then you’ve got bigger problems than an elevator pitch.   – Adam SteeleThe Magistrate

    Megan Smith6. Not Paying Attention to Body Language

    While 30 seconds may go fast for the person delivering it, it is a painful 30 seconds when you are on the receiving end of a pitch that you don’t want to hear. That said, when delivering the pitch, be mindful of the receiver’s body language. Don’t get so caught up in what you are saying that you completely missed the fact that they tuned out 20 seconds ago.   – Megan Smithan SmithBrownstone PR

    Andy Leff7. Rambling

    Elevator pitches need to be short and convey your business to an audience. I’ve noticed when people pitch me ideas they ramble on and on and don’t actually say anything relevant. The best practice I got was during TechCrunch Disrupt launching a product five years ago. TechCrunch put us through the ringer and they helped us define what we wanted to say and how to say it concisely without rambling.   – Andy LeffElectricity Labs/Warp Speed Labs

    Andy Karuza8. Starting With Features and Benefits Rather Than the Problem

    A lot of people start going into the features and benefits of the device when they should really be capturing the attention of the listener by explaining the problem. They call this strategy “turning the knife,” where you get the listener to understand and relate to the problem emotionally, then you position your product or solution as the unique and correct way of solving that problem.   –Andy KaruzaFenSens

    Nathan Hale9. Sounding Desparate

    It’s easy to get lost in the passion you have for your project, and oftentimes that passion, coupled with the opportunity being presented to you, can lead to desperation. It’s important to have enthusiasm, but don’t allow desperation to bleed into your pitch. Investors and potential partners can respect a passionate owner, but desperation almost always has the opposite effect.   –Nathan HaleFirst American Merchant

    Brian Pallas10. Telling It Step by Step From the Bottom

    A common mistake in communication in general is building the conclusion by describing it step by step from the bottom. This simply can’t work in an elevator pitch. Start from the end. Tell what you do and then how you do it.   – Brian PallasOpportunity Network

    Fan Bi11. Forgetting to Leverage Social Proof

    It’s human nature to triangulate relevance from things we’re familiar with. Whether it be investors, prominent customers or press you’ve received, dropping these in tasteful ways will make the audience take you more seriously. These social cues make the listener draw on these associations and connect them with what you’re doing, enhancing the overall pitch.   – Fan BiBlank Label

    Stanley Meytin12. Starting the Speech With “I Am…”

    Starting off on this note will usually generate a “so what” reaction, causing your audience to check out. Your elevator pitch should be engaging and compelling enough to leave the listener wanting to know even more about you. Try instead to start the speech off with an interesting hook, quote or question that initially locks in their attention.   – Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production

    Darrah Brustein13. Not Making It Matter to Your Audince

    WIIFM is an old sales jargon term for “what’s in it for me?”. While silly sounding, it’s fundamentally on point. If you don’t engage your audience during an elevator pitch enough to figure out why they should care, that is typically the end of the conversation. I like to say I help ____ to _____, as an example. Make it digestible for your audience.   – Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

    Mark Daoust14. Getting Lost in Jargon

    The best elevator pitches use simple words and communicates the benefits of your organization. If your elevator pitch uses words like “facilitates,” “synergies,” “empowering,” or other overused words, re-craft your pitch. What does your organization do for its users?   – Mark DaoustQuiet Light Brokerage, Inc.

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    The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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    One comment on “14 Ways Your Elevator Pitch Is Hurting Your Brand
    1. avatar
      EXPERT
      Spencer says:

      These are some good insights. I think #8 is one of the most common mistakes I personally see, especially (not to discriminate) among engineers. When you spend so much time designing and creating something new, it’s easy to get caught up in what it does because it’s your creation. It can often become the common scenario of creating a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

      Thank you all for sharing, this was a good a read.

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