One of your most important tools as an entrepreneur is your elevator pitch. That’s what you use to introduce your company and product in 30 seconds or less. That pitch should leave the listener with a clear and positive impression of you and your start-up. If you can’t deliver that pitch well, you’re going to lose out on a lot of opportunities. Here are a few reasons why your elevator pitch may be going wrong.

When You Ramble
Elevator pitches need to be short and straight to the point. Rambling on and on not only gives the listener opportunities to lose interest, it also shows that you don’t have a good idea of what you want to say. Your elevator pitch might cover the important points regarding your company but if you don’t organise the way you present that information it’ll look like you’re coming up with your pitch on the spot. Not that improvisation is wrong, but you must have the core of the pitch in place. Write and practice your pitch so you don’t end up rambling.

It’s Too Stiff
Just because you wrote and practiced your pitch for hours doesn’t mean is has to be formal. You’re still in a conversation, so your pitch must sound and feel natural. Leave some room in your pitch for improvisation. A good way to do this is to list down a number of important points to cover and list down ways to link one point to the next one instead of writing a speech. This will give you a guide to work with when you deliver your pitch without being so limiting that it sounds robotic and stiff.

It Doesn’t Relate to the Listener
It’s been said that being charismatic is less about the speaker and more about the listener. What that means is that people like hearing about themselves and things that involve them. Talking about your idea and your company is important, but you must be able to relate it to the listener. For example, if you’re talking to a potential investor, talk about your company’s odds and how it can provide him with profit. If you’re talking to a potential customer, lead the discussion towards how it can solve one of his problems. The more you involve the listener, the more likely he’ll listen.

You Rehearsed It Too Much
As an entrepreneur, you want to do everything right. You practiced your pitch, and now you have it down. You could deliver it in your sleep. The problem is that you can rehearse too much and end up sounding like you’re delivering a canned speech. That is far from what you want. Think about canned email responses and how they can make people feel like no one’s actually listening to them. You don’t want that.

Most listeners will be able to tell if you’re throwing them a canned speech or if you’re actually trying to engage them in a conversation. Still, you need to practice to keep from rambling or forgetting important details. The only workaround is to change up your wording according to the listener’s context and to try to involve them in the pitch as well.

You Fail to Set-up the Pitch
The fact that you became an entrepreneur means that you recognized a niche and have found a way to fill it. Timing is everything as an entrepreneur, and that also applies to your elevator pitch. The shortest and most convincing pitch won’t work if you don’t set it up. That means making sure that the first sentence should grab the listener’s attention.

Work your company’s concept and offering down to a single sentence. Cut out whatever doesn’t involve your company in the first sentence. If you can do that, you should be able to catch the listener’s interest long enough for them to pay attention to the rest of your pitch.

Making your elevator pitch work is vital if you want to maximise the chances of success as entrepreneur. Make changes and adjust it as you see fit to match who you’re talking to, and don’t be afraid to mess it up. Only by trying it in the real world will you find out if the pitch works or not. Eventually, you’ll find your pitch working more and more.

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