Gone Are The Days of Elevator Pitches - So What’s Your Story?
Historically, we shared information in the form of stories. Later, we communicated in written form as efficiency became paramount, aligning with the Industrial Revolution's focus on time as money. This shift led to the development of concise communication techniques like the elevator pitch.
Today, some of the foundational practices of efficiency that have fueled business development, especially during the Industrial Revolution, are being re-examined. We are beginning to understand the limitations of what was once considered the most efficient way to do business. We are reimagining and replacing the elevator pitch with a new business proficiency of sharing stories. And here is why…
Moving from transactional to relational style of business.
Key components of a successful business are:
Sharing information - communicating who you are and what you do
Identifying problems - lost revenue or missed opportunities
Offering solutions - innovative products and services
But that's not all. Clarity about who you are, what you believe, and why you are uniquely positioned to solve problems gives you a powerful advantage. Communicating this authentically allows people to understand the information you share and feel your conviction, integrity, and confidence. It quickly builds trust, and that's powerful. And although we analyze information in our brains, we ultimately make decisions based on our emotions. How we feel matters, and it determines how well we connect.
The old-school elevator pitch is flawed.
In short, a traditional elevator pitch includes information about yourself, what you offer, and how it benefits the person you are “pitching” to. This falls flat. All too often, those who use an elevator pitch are so focused on the information they share that they cannot uncover even greater opportunities.
You can build a more meaningful connection by sharing information about yourself in the form of a story. By using story as a means of professional communication, you can share information in a way that the person you are speaking with can understand and process, often being able to identify even more significant business opportunities. Building a rich foundation for future referrals and ongoing business opportunities is the benefit of relational over transactional business.
Read the room.
It helps to prepare before you meet. This can be done in as little as 60 seconds by slowing things down and doing deliberate box breathing. Doing three sets of a four-count inhale, a four-count hold, and a four-count exhale will quickly bring you into the present moment. Once you are there, begin envisioning your meeting. Be intellectually and emotionally available to listen to what is said (and maybe what is not being said), read body language, and sense the energy of the person you speak with. Are they curious, open, interested, or focused? Or are they distracted or disinterested? This is known as reading the room, and it is in play whether you are speaking to a group or an individual.
Set the stage.
Once you sense where your audience is, you can do the work necessary to bring them into the moment, too, so that you can have a meaningful conversation. Some easy techniques are warming up with some feel-good chit-chat chat, like commenting on the beautiful weather, noting the excitement of an upcoming holiday, or noticing the inviting surroundings of the place you are meeting. Along with conversation, you can also make friendly eye contact, speak upbeat, or even see to the personal comfort of others by asking if you can get them a cup of tea or coffee or adjust the temperature in the room. These are all forms of hospitality that build trust and connection. People may never remember a word you say, but they will always remember how you make them feel. That is your opportunity.
Get to know each other.
Before meeting, mentally review your story - who you are, what you believe, and what you do because of what you believe. (To develop your own story, use JMM's Story Template.) Crafting your story is essential to building lasting and meaningful relationships. People enjoy working with people they like. We can only have meaningful relationships with those who we know. Story crafting and sharing is an essential skill that is foundational not just to a thriving business but to a fulfilling life.
Because this is not how we have been conditioned to interact with each other, it will take some dedicated time, attention, and lots of practice to do this well. The return on your investment will be invaluable. Are you ready to have more business success while enjoying more satisfying relationships? What's your story?