Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

I was once told that to win, I needed to be very clear about my superpower. I also needed to be able to make that superpower clear to others. Isn’t that what marketing is about? But what if you only have an elevator ride’s worth of time? What is your superpower then?

Recently I was asked to share my elevator pitch with a group of people. But I froze when asked to do this. Why? My superpower is, and has been for many years, the ability to communicate with multiple audiences concerning a wide variety of topics, in an influential and credible manner. I tend to totally customize what I say in each situation, and haven’t flexed my elevator pitch muscles in a long time. Turns out they need a workout.

Whether you’re introducing yourself at a networking event, telling potential donors about your organization, or pitching to another professional, you want to capture attention and get it fast. Your superpower, whatever that is, needs to cut through the clutter. You need to leave a lasting memory.

In situations like these, you need a short and easy-to-grasp explanation of your business, mission, products or services. You need an elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch? It’s a short, memorable description of what you do and/or what superpower you provide. The superpower may be what you do. It may be how it’s done. The goal is to earn a second conversation, not to convince the person you’re talking to they should hire you, give you money, or buy your solution.

An elevator pitch, also known as elevator speech, can better introduce prospects to your organization. You want to keep your words easily digestible, so avoid trying to get too deep into specifics as it can drag on the conversation, thus losing your prospect’s attention.

What makes a good elevator pitch? It depends. Who are you addressing? What level of familiarity do they have with you and what you are discussing? Broadly speaking, all good pitches captivate, communicate and convince because they are: short, interesting, personalized and confident.

Start every pitch by establishing a human connection and making your prospect feel seen and heard. To show your value in under a minute, your pitch needs purpose, flow, and a hook to reel in attention.

You may start with your mission, but this can be blended with your value propositions, and vice versa. Consider a “hook” to get attention. This may be a probing question, or a personalized statement. It may be an interesting fact, or maybe a few statistics. Just don’t ramble.

The problem with rambling in an elevator pitch scenario is that you haven’t earned the prospect’s interest or attention yet. They don’t care who you are yet, how long you’ve worked in your company, or what job you had before. Keep the information about yourself to a minimum and earn the right to share more later in the deal.

Include a succinct description of what your business does. Without getting into the weeds. If you were to be cut off after a few sentences, the prospect would still know exactly who you are and what your company does.

What does your company do exceptionally well that sets its products or services apart from the rest? Write a brief, one to two sentence statement about the value the product or service provides to current customers. Or to the community. Then make it your own.

Your work on this important communication tool will pay off if you prepare, practice and implement. My new superpower is making this happen. What’s yours?

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. She may be reached at 303-638-7127; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or LinkedIn.

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