By John W. Coleman
First, let's talk about your elevator pitch, then discuss adapting it to record on-camera for your Free MCA-I member video on October 15th 2014. We'll also cover some questions everyone has about being on camera.
At the LA/OC Chapter of MCA-i monthly meeting in September we passed out a sheet that outlined the elements of a typical 'Elevator Pitch.' (it is also attached at the very end of this article) Essentially, the idea is to have a prepared statement you could deliver if you ever found yourself on an elevator (or any other situation) where you would have extremely limited time to introduce yourself to someone who is potentially your ideal client.
REMEMBER THESE VIDEOS CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT THEM TO BE! MCA-I is simply providing fellow members with the support to make a video that will help your business. We have limitations on time, post production and the good will of our volunteers but other than that, do what works best for you!
Many of the videos and papers you'll find on the internet about crafting an 'elevator pitch' neglect to cover an important point: you don't really have time to do more than peak their interest! So at best, the outcome you seek is for the person to react with something like, "How can I find out more?" A second point they often don't tell you is that a hard sell rarely works in such a limited setting. The thing to remember is that the essence of a successful elevator pitch is a TEASE. Finally, it's not about YOU. It's about THEM. Really, about what you can do for them.
YOUR GOAL: Introduce yourself and your company; Make a connection with your potential customer based on the idea that what they want, you've got; Include Your unique Selling Proposition; Make it easy for them (or you) to follow up; All the time presenting yourself as a nice person to do business with.
There's a million ways to accomplish all that and no one can craft your elevator speech better that you. So get to work, write down what you want to say and memorize it. Short and to the point is best.
THE ADVANTAGE OF VIDEO: IT'S THE NEXT BEST THING TO BEING THERE!
…and it's repeatable automatically!
DON'T DELAY! If you don't have an elevator pitch now you don't have a simple way to introduce yourself and explain what you do! Craft your elevator speech now and take advantage of the opportunity to put it on camera at the October 15th chapter meeting of MCA-i.
YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE. If you don't like it you don't have to use it. Worst case, it will be a great rehearsal for cafting your perfect elevator speech.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?
Keep your elevator pitch short and to the point and it will be easy to memorize—and easy to deliver in a friendly manner. We won't have cue cards or teleprompter (and you wouldn't have them in an elevator, either!) so if it's long and/or complicated with too many points to make, you'll have a much harder time getting through it (and risk turning off a prospective client by being long-winded or pushing a hard sell.) Remember, any elevator speech is just an introduction that ideally starts a conversation.
You must be able to do it all without stopping. This is not only for credibility (someone who hesitates does not inspire credibility) but because we will not be editing these pieces other than to put on your lower third ID.
Generally we say the length to shoot for is :30, but the duration is not as important as whether what you say makes sense and you are able to deliver it in a friendly, honest manner without hesitation. You will have a chance to do it on camera more than once, but there will be others waiting as well.
ADAPTING YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH FOR VIDEO
Content is King. So, if you feel good about what you have to say (remember it's only an introduction) then the next thing is to consider adapting it for the following:
WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO? Typically an elevator speech is aimed at potential customers, but maybe you want yours to be more generic. Maybe you should make it more specific—a certain kind of customer or one who meets certain thresholds. If so, talk directly to their interests …or you can identify them with something like, "So if you're an agency billing over $20 million…"
WHERE WILL THIS PLAY? You may choose to add something to your elevator video that is specific to the location where it will be seen. Most commonly your short video will play on your business website. You may want to adapt it for this (or another) purpose with anything from "Welcome to my website…" to '…so explore the website and give me a call!"
HOW TIMELY (OR TIMELESS) DO YOU NEED THIS TO BE? Video can be forever but it doesn't have to be. Think about whether your video elevator speech may be outdated in 6 months or a year. If it will help somehow, you can make it timely and very specific —or choose to not date the message and simply replace it (or take it out of service) whenever the time is appropriate.
PREPARING TO BE ON CAMERA
You're not perfect—you don't have to be. What you must be is real—the real you. One of the wonderful things about video is that your personality always comes through. So don't worry if you think you're limited by "a face made for Radio!" To be the best version of you, be confident in your message and your skill as a professional in helping your clients. Take the time to look good and then forget about you and be friendly—you're about to have a short conversation with someone who needs your services but doesn't yet know what you do. In the process of telling them, you're going to make a new friend. So think about them. Attitude is always number 1.
The practical things to prep for are wardrobe, hair, make up, etc. The videographer will make you look good.
Remember WE'LL ONLY SEE YOU FROM THE CHEST UP in this video!
WARDROBE: Dress appropriately: the way people who know you in business would expect to see you. Known for flowery Hawaiian shirts? Don’t switch to a suit and tie for this video! Same goes for glasses or contacts—go with your usual business look.
Our background will be a generic photographic drop—usually comprised of mottled colors in a random pattern. Sometimes it looks like a sky…but its not distracting and pretty standard for portraits (you'll be seen from the chest up.) In front of this you could wear most anything but a dark solid will help you stand out. That does not mean you have to wear black —or be monochromatic. A splash of white and/or color always helps.
Choose clothes and colors in which you look good!
AVOID wearing ALL white or very small checks and patterns. While the technology of modern cameras have lessened the problems these cause, it's still a good idea to not challenge the camera.
AVOID wearing fabric that 'russles' or jewelry that 'jangles.' Again, not such a big problem in our setting but still a good idea.
BRING a hairbrush or comb (and hairspray if you use it) for a last minute touch-up.
MAKE-UP: Generally it's a good idea to be conservative with your makeup. You can always add more on camera.
Don't be afraid to BRING AN ALTERNATE WARDROBE IF YOU LIKE. We will have time to check you in front of the camera. But do remember we expect to have other members waiting to record their video as well!
We will not have a hair or make-up person available so come prepared.
Crafting Your Elevator Speech
(As handed out at the September 17, 2014 meeting of the LA/OC Chapter of MCA-i)
An ʹelevator speechʹis a term taken from the early days of the internet explosion when web development companies needed venture capital. Finance firms were swamped with applications for money and the companies that won the cash were often those with a simple pitch. The best were those that could explain a business proposition to the occupants of an elevator in the time it took them to ride to their floor. In other words, an elevator speech that worked was able to describe and sell an idea in 30 seconds or less. Today, an ʹelevator speech can be any kind of short speech that sells an idea, promotes your business or markets you as an individual.
An elevator speech is as essential as a business card. You need to be able to say who you are, what you do, what you are interested in doing and how you can be a resource to your listeners. If you donʹt have an elevator speech, people wonʹt know what you really do.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE- Before writing any part of your elevator speech, research your audience. You will be much more likely to succeed if your elevator speech is clearly targeted at the individuals you are speaking to. Having a ʹgenericʹelevator pitch is almost certain to fail.
KNOW YOURSELF - Before you can convince anyone of your proposition you need to know exactly what it is. You need to define precisely what you are offering, what problems you can solve and what benefits you bring to a prospective contact or employers
Answer the following questions:
1. What are your key strengths?
2. What adjectives come to mind to describe you?
3. What is it you are trying to ʹsellʹ _or let others know about you?
4. Why are you interested in the company or industry the person represents?
OUTLINE YOUR TALK - start an outline of your material using bullet points. You donʹt need to add any detail at this stage; simply write a few notes to help remind you of what you really want to say. They don’t need to be complete sentences.
You can use the following questions to start your outline:
1. Who am I?
2. What do I offer?
3. What problem is solved?
4. What are the main contributions I can make?
5. What should the listener do as a result of hearing this?
FINALIZE YOUR SPEECH - Now that you have your outline of your material, you can finalize the speech. The key to doing this is to expand on the notes you made by writing out each section in full.
To help you do this, follow these guidelines:
1. Take each note you made and write a sentence about it.
2. Take each of the sentences and connect them together with additional phrases to make them flow.
3. Go through what you have written and change any long words or jargon into everyday language.
4. Go back through the re-written material and cut out unnecessary words.
5. Finalize your speech by making sure it is no more than 90 words long.