It’s Time To Overhaul Your Elevator Pitch — Here’s How

For many of us, our attention span powers down after the generic, "Hello, my name is Jane. Glad to meet you. What type of business are you in?"...

Have you overlooked the importance of an elevator pitch?

“Hello my name is Terence Chatmon, let me introduce myself.”

So often, when we first meet someone, we experience a standard back and forth conversation sequence. It generally goes like this:


John: “Hi, my name is … nice to meet you.”

Jane: “Nice to meet you.”

John: “What type of work do you do?”


Some networking novices then go on for a good 10-15 minutes … possibly even more, sharing what they do and why it’s important. After all, our lives are so important they deserve at least an hour of attention, right? Wrong!

At best we have 30 seconds to introduce ourselves and share what we do. The 30 second elevator pitch was appropriate years ago. But today we suffer from even shorter attention spans.

So let’s consider a new approach—the new 20-second elevator pitch. And that’s being generous considering the average attention span as of 2015 is 8.25 seconds.


You’re out of time

This approach gives you 20 seconds. It’s all the time you have before the other person totally moves on mentally.

For many of us, our attention span powers down after the generic, “Hello, my name is Jane. Glad to meet you. What type of business are you in?” spiel.


Photo: © ivanko80, YFS Magazine

So what can we say in 20 seconds to capture someone’s attention, interest—and hopefully their heart?

Consider a :15 or :30 second television or radio commercial spot. It is essentially an introduction.  The marketer aims to quickly grab your attention with a product, tag line, features and benefits. Smart advertisers know their customers, what they need, and what will cause them to connect.

In the same way, your personal brand coupled with a polished elevator pitch can accomplish the same thing.

Ask yourself, “When I’m at a business meeting, conference or social gathering, do I reinforce my personal brand or minimize it by how I introduce myself?


Let me reintroduce myself

In twenty seconds you can quickly tell someone: who you are, what you do, and how you do it. But will they remember it?

Let me suggest another method.

Start with a strong introduction and inject a bit of humor. Change your first name into a more creative name that speaks to your vision or mission in life. For example, introduce yourself with a creative tag line.


Photo: © berc, YFS Magazine

Change your first name. Keep your last name as-is. The “professionally known as” first name can be creative, odd or ridiculous. So much so that everyone will ask you to repeat it, pronounce it, or where you’re from.

This is your opportunity to say, “It’s not my real name, just my conference name. My real name is John, I’m from Chicago, I run a graphic design business … How about you?”

Humor, even in the smallest way, is a powerful tool for social success.  In fact, “we perceive funny people as smarter, more attractive, and more personable.”

Naturally, the other person’s mental response is, “Yes, I’m interested. Tell me more!”


Final thoughts

In today’s low attention span world, we have 8 seconds to get someone’s attention. Yet the harder part is, “Can you keep it and make them want to know more?”

So, “Hello, my name is TerenceFCCI.org Chatmon, nice to meet you. My business is…”

Try this elevator pitch method and see how it works for you.


This article has been edited.

Terence Chatmon, a successful senior executive in corporate America, served in leadership roles with several Fortune 500 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Citibank and Coca-Cola. He is now the president and CEO of FCCI.org, a network of executive leaders spanning more than 100 countries, using training conferences, personal relationships and a rich library of resources to equip and encourage leaders to see their companies and careers as powerful tools for transformational change. Terence is also the author of “Do Your Children Believe? Becoming Intentional about your Family’s Faith and Spiritual Legacy.” Connect with @fcciorg on Twitter.


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