Three Floors To Success: The Elevator Pitch
What's an elevator pitch? It's a talk about your business with a twist: it's given in a very short amount of time. Think of it as a pitch to a potential client made in the amount of time it would take you to ride up with him or her three floors on an elevator. Before they exit, you need to get them interested enough to want to meet with you again.
Does it sound hard? It is! Here are some resources that will help you.
Small Message, Big Impact is an entire book about these 2-3 minute speeches! But the author, Terri L. Sjodin, has a lot to say on the subject.
She explains that the goal of the pitch is to inform and explain. A successful elevator speech could answer these three questions: Why should your listener choose you? Why should your listener choose your company? Why should your listener act now? (p.42)
Sjodin goes into detail on how to build a solid, persuasive case, be creative while doing so, and deliver it well.
Have a look at this great book.
Here's The Pitch by Martin Soorjoo has a section on the subject (pages 66-72).
Some of his recommendations:
Keep the elevator speech very simple, focusing on concepts rather than operational and technical details.
Avoid hype - phrases like "world-class" and "cutting edge" can actually have people questioning your credibility.
Tailor your pitch to your audience. Don't just have one canned pitch - be flexible enough to adapt it to various situations.
Here's The Pitch covers many other kinds of pitches as well: sales pitches, investor pitches, pitching to media, e-pitches, and more.
Bloomberg Businessweek online has a blog post about The Perfect Elevator Pitch. The author gives examples of two elevator pitches that didn't work - one delivered by him, and one to him. They are short but telling examples of the importance of being thoroughly and properly prepared for the elevator moment.