(via creativecommons.org and Chris Campbell on flickr)
There was a great article in Inc this month on defining and refining your “elevator pitch,” or what do you do in as few words as possible (hence the name elevator pitch because you should be able to clearly express your purpose in an elevator ride). I can’t say still to this day I’ve met too many people who really have perfected their pitch. In fact there are a lot of really bad pitches out there (ever been to a web 2.0 or tech meetup in nyc? There are people who can’t describe what their company/site does in 5 minutes much less under 30 seconds) But one of the worst elevator speeches of all time is quoted in the article, and it is a doozy. Even more amazing was this particular pitch was aired on 60 minutes to a national audience. The pitcher? JEFF DACHIS, then owner of big time e-business consultancy Razorfish. The pitch:
[CUT TO: Screen in front of the room, where 60 Minutes correspondent BOB SIMON stands, head cocked skeptically, next to a young guy with a dark suit and spiky hair. It is JEFF DACHIS, who then owned an e-business consultancy called Razorfish.]
BOB SIMON So, what do you do?
JEFF DACHIS We’ve asked our clients to recontextualize their business. We’ve recontextualized what it is to be in the services business.
SIMON There are many people such as myself who have trouble with the word recontextualize. Tell me what you do. In English.
DACHIS We provide services to companies to help them win.
SIMON But so do trucking firms…
DACHIS Absolutely, absolutely, and our talent is to do a certain thing while trucking firms do…
SIMON [interrupting] But what is it you do?
DACHIS We radically transform business to invent and reinvent them.
SIMON That’s still very vague.
Does anyone have any idea what he’s talking about? Also, if anyone has a link to that clip on video I would love to see it. In Dachis’ defense there seems to be a lot of pressure to use business buzzwords, and it even seems that some think the more buzzwords the better the pitch. The truth is buzzwords are useless. If the idea you’re discussing isn’t powerful enough to stand up without buzzwords, why are you even putting yourself behind it? The elevator speech should be so simple and dumbed down anyone can understand it. The point of the pitch isn’t too impress, it’s to inform and encourage the listener to ask for more. Then you can impress them (Note: use of recontextualize will NOT impress).
Here are 4 tips for building and refining your pitch.
Don’t worry, we’re not the only ones that need help with our pitch.