Monday, February 4, 2013

Elevator Pitches for the Twenty-First Century

The 60-second "elevator pitch" has been standard operating procedure for many decades.  But in the twenty-first century, this well-worn practice has grown a bit threadbare.  The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the typical American reads more than one hundred thousand words every day.. e-mails, texts and tweets, not to mention all of the blog posts we haven't read and videos we haven't watched.

Today, we have more opportunities to get out our message than ever.  As a result, we need to broaden our repertoire of pitches for an age of limited attention.

Here are six promising successors to the elevator pitch.  You can use them to begin a conversation that leads to moving others.

There are three ways to learn and perfect the six pitches: Practice, practice, practice. Here’s a place to begin.

1. The One-Word Pitch. (What product do you think of when you hear the word "Priceless"?)

 Pro tip: Write a fifty-word pitch. Reduce it to twenty-five words. Then to six words.
One of those remaining half-dozen is almost certainly your one-word pitch.

Your try: ______________________________________________________________________________________.

2. The Question Pitch. (Prompt people to come up with their own reasons for agreeing - or not.)

 Pro tip: Use this if your arguments are strong. If they’re weak, make a statement. Or
better yet, find some new arguments.

 Your try: _____________________________________________________________________________________?

3. The Rhyming Pitch.  (Allow your message to stick when people compare you to  your competitors.)

Pro tip: Don’t rack your brain for rhymes. Go online and find a rhyming dictionary.  I’m partial to RhymeZone (

Your try: ______________________________________________________________________________________.

4. The Subject Line Pitch. (Create a subject line that will get others to open your e-mail or accept your invitation)

Pro tip: Review the subject lines of the last twenty e-mail messages you’ve sent. Note how many of them appeal to either utility or curiosity. If that number is less than ten, re-write each one that fails the test.

Your try: ______________________________________________________________________________________.

5. The Twitter Pitch. (Craft an effective pitch in 120 characters or less.)

Pro tip: Even though Twitter allows 140 characters, limit your pitch to 120 characters so that others can pass it on. Remember: The best pitches are short, sweet, and easy to retweet.

Your try: ______________________________________________________________________________________.

6. The Pixar Pitch.  (Use storytelling, the same formula Pixar used in every succesful Pixar film.)

Pro tip: Read all twenty-two of former Pixar story artist Emma Coats’s story rules:

Your try: Once upon a time ____________________________. Every day, _______________________.

One day ________________________________________. Because of that, _________________________________.

Because of that, __________________________________. Until finally, ___________________________________.

Excerpted from To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. © 2013 Daniel H. Pink 

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