Picture this. The elevator door opens and there stands the CEO of a major business located in your building. This person is someone you have dreamed of meeting and, even better, representing! He or she asks you, “So what do you do?” You have just been asked the million dollar question. Now what? Are you prepared to respond—what will you say?
This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a positive impression with a greatly desired potential client. Hopefully, you have a well-crafted elevator pitch to respond to their question. If not, you should develop one. Every attorney should have an elevator pitch.
The elevator pitch is not a high-speed regurgitation of what you do for all types of clients or all of the firm’s practice areas. By design, the elevator pitch is meant to be a succinct expression of what you do in a way that demonstrates the benefit to the recipient.
The elevator pitch gets its name from the short ride in an elevator, so keeping with that concept it needs to be brief and concise. At best, it should be two to three sentences and take less than thirty seconds to deliver. Remember that not all elevator rides are long. Your goal should be to explain what you do as it relates to the individual you are addressing, if possible.
By definition, an elevator pitch is an overview of an idea, product, service or project that is designed to initiate a conversation. When developing an elevator pitch, there are several things to keep in mind.
Here are some key points to assist you in the development of your elevator pitch.
- Short and sweet. The average elevator ride (or other encounter) is very brief. Take advantage of the opportunity but be as concise as possible to allow for reciprocal dialogue.
- Create interest or a “hook.” The main objective of the elevator pitch is to demonstrate the value you bring to clients and, if possible, to the specific industry of the person you are addressing.
- Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm your audience with legal jargon or technical phrases. Speak in natural dialogue that will connect you with the target audience.
- Be conceptual and concrete (if possible). It’s important to keep the elevator pitch at a high level (open to various opportunities) but in balance to provide specific or tangible benefits to working with you (provided that you know something about the business of the person you are responding to).
- Practice, practice, and practice. This cannot be overstated. Initially, you should write out a script for the “elevator pitch” opportunity. Once you are comfortable with it, practice it using several different methods. Send yourself a voicemail message of your pitch and listen to it. Practice on friends or family using different versions of your pitch. Lastly, practice in front of a mirror. Remember that the pitch should be delivered in a natural conversation tone.
So you’ve developed your elevator pitch and think you’re done —not quite! Everyone should have several versions of their elevator pitch and be prepared to deliver a version at any opportunity. Every attorney should have several versions that cover their individual practice and also one that speaks to the general practice of the firm. The pitch used will depend on the target audience.
Does your firm train attorneys in the development of their elevator pitch? All attorneys should be prepared for this brief but potentially rewarding encounter.