Have you perfected your elevator pitch?

You know – that initial 60 seconds when you first meet someone at a networking event, you have their full attention, it’s the perfect time to gain new business, so you try to sell you in the best possible way. Your business. Your knowledge. Your skillset. Your expertise. Your personality. You. In just 60 seconds.

A tall order for anyone. Certainly it gets many of us nervous and anxious. And of course, the more anxious we get, the less confident we sound.

So how can you combat those nerves, fears and anxieties?

Well they’re unlikely to go away overnight. The perfect pitch is something that takes time. Practice. And lots of it. But don’t worry, it is possible to extinguish those anxieties and feel confident delivering your pitch to one, two or a room full of strangers.

There are essentially 4 rules to follow when creating your perfect pitch:

1. Keep it short: People get bored easily. They may also have heard 5 other VA’s deliver the same spiel over the course of the evening, so yours needs to be as brief and to the point as possible to keep their attention.

2. Keep it clear: If you don’t understand your offering in 60 seconds or less, how will anyone else? Be clear in what you offer and where your expertise lies to ensure you’re completely understood.

3. Show the benefit: We all know time is money, so ultimately this business person is going to want to understand the benefit(s) to them. It’s all very well telling them how wonderful you are, but what does that mean to them and their business? Without explaining the benefit all they’re probably seeing is money leaving their pocket.

4. Keep it watertight: If you follow the above points this should work out favourably. The idea is to not finish with them having questions in their mind, other than “when can you start”!

So here’s our quick guide to creating your perfect 60 second elevator pitch:

Firstly it should go without saying that to do this well you need to clear some space in your diary, put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign up and shut the office door. (You may want to grab a flask of coffee too as this could take some time!).

Step 1. Start by noting down your background, your experience, your skillset. If you’ve got some funny anecdotes, include them. Don’t worry you don’t have to keep them, but the point is also to inject some personality into your pitch, not be too formal and regimented, so they could work well. Write down everything at this stage.

Next write down your services. Initially include all your services, just so you’re clear on exactly what you offer.

Then separately write down the services where you really excel or if you specialise in a niche. Perhaps you’re a travel guru – you know where and how to find the best deal that will save businesses tons of money. Or maybe you’re a dynamite bookkeeper. Wherever your expertise lies, write it down.

You may at this stage be thinking that you don’t have a real area of expertise. But in fact you probably do. It could just be a preference to the type of work you want (although obviously if you’ve got zero experience doing it, you may have a few problems convincing people that you know what you’re talking about) or that you genuinely are a whizz at the general admin and organisational tasks.

Step 2. The next step is to sit down and write your story. Using the content created in Step 1, start to write your pitch. At this stage don’t restrict the word-count. Just write. There’s plenty of time for editing later.

Then leave it.

Don’t make edits. Don’t go back to it 10 minutes later. Leave it for at least a day or two before revisiting and editing.

Step 3. Now we get to the trickiest part. The opening 10 seconds. Of course you could just introduce yourself, shake their hand and mention that you’re a VA. But it’s not very compelling or memorable is it?

According to Forbes Business and Entrepreneur Magazine, the best openings include asking a question, or asking them to imagine a scenario.

For example; being as you are the expert Virtual Assistant you know how much time and money you can save this person and their business. So an opening line could be “How much time each week do you spend on general administrative tasks?” or “Imagine not having to update another spreadsheet ever again …” or “What if you didn’t have to spend hours marketing your business via social media channels?” …

These types of openings work because they grab attention. You’re asking them to do something. They’re not listening to you drone on about how brilliant you are, although you’ll inevitably get to that bit later (in a non-droney way), instead they’re intrigued. Thinking. Leaning closer. Urging you to continue.

Step 4. Here you entice them with an offer. What better way is there to close a pitch by making them think they need to act fast? Give them a time-limited offer and your business card (don’t forget to take theirs too) and hopefully by this stage of your pitch, they’ll be putty in your hands!

Step 5. Practice. There’s no way round this. The only way you’ll perfect your pitch to sound comfortable, relaxed and in control, is to practice. Practice in front of the mirror. Practice in front of friends or family. Practice by recording yourself and playing it back.

Each of these methods will help you see how well others understand your pitch and how confident you sound. If your listener’s eyes start to glaze over, you’ve gone on too long. If they look confused, you know you’re not being clear enough.

Write, then edit, then practice.

If you have perfected your elevator pitch with success, let us know. We’d love to hear how you did it, what successes you’ve had, if you’ve altered it over time, how naturally it now comes to you. Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below.