Avoid This Classic Mistake in Your Elevator Pitch #epitch

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The opening remarks in your elevator pitch are the most important. So why do people open a story with a thud, instead of a bang? Here’s how to avoid a classic mistake in your epitch.

Jeffrey Hayzlett says you’ve only got 8 seconds to grab someone’s attention.

The former Kodak CMO and author of “The Mirror Test” says you need to think eight seconds out. And this is not his first rodeo. The opening remarks have to captivate your audience. So, how do you do that?

Your name, rank and serial number is not a powerful opening.

The number one question my clients ask me is, “How do I start my elevator pitch?” When you think of an elevator pitch, you think it’s time to start selling… Actually, it’s time to start connecting. Connect with your material and connect with your audience, if you want to grab ’em, right from the start. With the millions of messages bombarding everyone, everyday, how can you afford not to create some sort of interest and urgency about your remarks?

If you think of a pitch as anything more than a powerful, persuasive story, you’re missing the point. The NEW Elevator Pitch is about creating meaningful change through your message.

How about putting your attention on the audience, and talking about what matters to them?

Start with your topic in a way that matters to your audience.

Connect with your audience – where they are, right now. That’s the difference between making an impact, and making noise.


“Hi, I’m Tina and I run the accounting department.”
Wow – – BORING!

Sorry Tina, but every presenter that wants to put you to sleep starts with their name, rank and serial number. Whether you are giving your elevator speech, selling a product, or simply explaining the new budgetary proposal, you deserve to be heard. Your name won’t change before the end of the pitch…so why not start off with what your audience is thinking?


“I don’t have control over the state of our industry, but in the next few minutes I’m going to outline our plans for new sources of funding. The answers to overcoming the current economic crisis could be right in front of us, and your input matters to me. My name is Tina…”

A CLEAR Opening is Key

Don’t start with a weird metaphor:
“Hi, I’m Fred, and I’m the Joe Montana of Marketing.”
Cheesy is Easy

Fred, what does that even mean?

You’re a retired clutch player who enjoys wearing Sketchers?

If your opening is a confusing metaphor, better go back to the drawing board. And be careful of sports analogies.

If someone needs ESPN to “get” you, you risk alienating a large part of your audience. Explain the connection to your material; don’t assume that your group knows every hall-of-fame quarterback in Canton.

For presentation skills coaching that makes your audience take notice, why not consider a copy of my book, The NEW Elevator Pitch?  It’s available right now, and I know it could make a big difference for you in your career, your community and your relationships.

And, you can email me if you want examples of five great openers for your elevator speech.

What are some fantastic (and not-so-great) openings you’ve used?

Photo courtesy of allensima. Used under creative commons, some rights reserved.

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