The Elevator Moment; A One Minute Pitch

With some people you spend an evening, to others you invest in it. It thus means that to a certain group of people, every single minute is as valuable as life itself. They are the successful lot in our societies. And to draw maximum value from a very short time with such people, sometimes under a minute, needs mastery of the art of pitching. It is very interesting to note how much time they have invested in whatever craft they do to earn the success they enjoy.

So last week I happened to meet one of such individuals in under five minutes after waiting for some lengthy time in the lobby. In my mind I was prepared to go and spend about an hour or so in discussing the matter at hand and forging a handshake at the end of it all. A handshake to posterity, a deal to seal the time we could have invested in the ‘bilateral’ business talks. Well, to my surprise, I just ended up spending just a pinch of the time in the meeting.

As I sat in the car headed back to town, I kept wondering if I maximally drew value out of the meeting. And that is when I thought about the elevator pitch. In an article I wrote towards the last quarter of last year, I explained how we ought to pitch for our businesses. In it I alluded to the one word pitch as Dan H Pink calls it in his best-selling book To Sell Is Human.

To the ardent readers of this blog, they can easily remember me writing about the case scenario of employees meeting their boss in the lift by luck. Back in the day this was very rare. This elevator pitch was and is like a single sip of coffee. You have to gulp enough within the shortest time possible, of course ensuring you also do not choke! Like for Obama in the 2008 campaigns, his one word pitch was “forward.” If given two seconds, all he had to say is forward and he would be done. He meant serious business; that of steering America forward in all aspects.

Plan your pitch well in advance, be precise and to the point when doing the elevator pitch.

But you realize that that one word takes a second to mention. How do you put the rest of the thirty seconds to one minute time that remains to good use? And perhaps it will extend to a maximum of about five minutes even as you walk to the parting area to your respective offices. You have got to know how to effectively utilize that time to your absolute betterment.

Firstly, make sure you have got your facts right. Remember this is someone who is widely read and has a vast experience and the last thing they expect is long stories that don’t make sense. From my experience, I have learnt that being brief and to the point is a plus. It brings you out as someone who knows what they want and has mastered what they do. If it is a business idea you are pitching about, make sure you know all the areas specific of that particular business. Factly, the information ought to be at your fingertips, it should flow; consistency to say the least.

Secondly, don’t be intimidated to a level you lose focus. Be very confident and have that one killer line that will bring a connection between you and the person in question. This line eases any tension you could be experiencing. Like you could quickly throw a precise statement on what the person has done lately that has inspired you. If you have met with the individual before, this is the perfect time to hint about the earlier meeting. It gives you a common ground as well as opens a bonding platform for both of you.

You could for example say, “We met at the NGO’s convention last year and the donation you made to the- keep a child in school- inspired me to donate my old books to some underprivileged children in my locality.” This will certainly spark an interest in the person solely because you appreciated their efforts and secondly because he has influenced you and other people to do something towards making society a better place for everyone.

Once you have done this, you have a perfect moment now to shoot your juiciest part of the pitch. That of stating your idea and doing it in the best way possible. If you desire a partnership state it plainly and avoid being vague. All this long, ensure you keep eye contact with the individual you are conversing with.

It is important to note that most investors invest in the person first before they invest in the business. In other words be your best when doing this short pitch. And don’t forget to smile a lot because that is another way of showing you are likeable. Word of caution though, don’t overdo it or else you will be taken as a joker. Remember this a live or die moment because the first one minute pitch determines the subsequent meetings that could later lead to a potential investment.

elevator pitch
Always remember the elevator door may stop any time and flung open. Make sure you have gulped enough by then.

Another crucial component that you need to be equipped with is understanding your numbers. I have decided to bring it last for now not because it is the least important, nay, but because it is the most important. You can explain a lot in numbers within a short time than you can do in words. Be precise with the numbers though and give them without hesitation. It shows that you were well prepared and understand what you are talking about. Remember the potential investor needs to be sure you’re well-endowed all round, especially with the figures, after all they are the motivation behind many investments.

The elevator pitch is like the case of the two-minute attention a lady gives a man to woo her. Or the one minute a man gives a lady to convince him that he needs not to break with her. You got to derive the most and maximum value out of it for survival.

The next time you get an opportunity to share a one minute with the president, with the senior executive you so much looked forward to or even the venture capitalist you have so desired for long, be equipped with these set of principles and I am sure it will lead to subsequent meetings and soon or later you will get to strike a deal.

Just never leave your mind behind, you never know whom you can bump into.


Copyright @ 2019.


Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at
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