14 Ways Your Elevator Pitch Is Hurting Your Brand

Word Of Mouth

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.

1. 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 Xu, Mebo International

2. 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

3. 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 Hutchings, Picasolar

4. 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

5. 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 Steele, The Magistrate

6. 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 Smith, Brownstone PR

7. 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 Leff, Electricity Labs/Warp Speed Labs

8. 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 Karuza, FenSens

9. 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 Hale, First American Merchant

10. 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 Pallas, Opportunity Network

11. 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

12. 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 Meytin, True Film Production

13. 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 Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

14. 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 Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.