An elevator pitch is a brief explanation of 1) an idea, product, service, or person, 2) how people might benefit from it, and 3) what those benefits are.
In networking situations professionals use elevator pitches to introduce themselves in response to the question, “What do you do?”
The whole point of an effective elevator pitch is to start a conversation, hoping people will say something like, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”
Bad elevator pitches are:
- Long and exhausting: Ten seconds is best. You can, if you must, take 15 to 20 seconds. But the longer your pitch goes on, the less likely anyone is to say, “Tell me more.”
- Vague or confusing: Technical experts excel in this regard, although they’re not alone. They might say something like, “I’m a UI designer, specializing in requirement gathering, design alternatives, prototyping, and user interfaces.” As if that clarifies anything.
- Airy fairy: Which I find particularly irritating. Something like, “I set free your inner child so you can dance with success.” Gag me.
Which brings me to today’s example of the worst-ever elevator pitch.
I was at a networking luncheon of government contractors, project managers, and engineers. When I asked the man seated to my left what he did, he said, “Stuff.”
I’m not making this up. He said, “Stuff.” That was it.
I waited for him to say more, thinking he would add something clever. But he didn’t.
So, fool that I am, I asked, “What do you mean?”
In all seriousness he said, “We design and manufacture stuff that people use.”
Can you top that? Have you heard a worst elevator pitch than “Stuff”? I’d love (or hate) to hear it.