With a big sigh of relief, I survived my class’ elevator pitch assignment. In all honesty, for an assignment that’s been associated with so much dread, I didn’t think it was too much of a teeth-pulling experience (but still not a complete cakewalk, mind you). Perhaps my prior endeavors in public speaking prepared me for the delivery aspect of the pitch. Regardless, I found the assignment to be one that encouraged us to think critically about our startup ideas and structure that thinking into a concise piece.
After writing and presenting one of my own, I feel like the two most important components of an elevator pitch are a clear description of the product/service/idea in question, and a value statement that shows why a customer should care; all of which in a timely manner (a minute and a half was the maximum time for the purpose of the class). For the most part, I thought I did fairly well in structuring my pitch around these two keys, along with a brief discussion of potential revenue generation and a problem statement to further drive the product’s value. Returning to the Slidebean article I used in preparation for the assignment (and during the previous post), this emphasis on value is reminiscent of the point, “Focus On Your Listener” that I gravitated towards prior to writing my pitch. However, working on the assignment reminded me that during a speech, content is only part of the process – the rest of which being the delivery.
A piece of advice given to the class was to rehearse prior to giving our pitches. Indeed, one of the requirements for the assignment was for us to be able to recite our pitches by memory. Granted, an elevator pitch isn’t supposed to be long, but it still required me to take the time and write a few profanity-filled rehearsal sessions into my schedule (strong language in the link, viewer discretion is advised). By the presentation day, I had my pitch committed to memory, but a slip-up along the way derailed my first attempt around the two-thirds mark. Upon a second go-around, I was more collected and got through my “speech” with little further trouble, putting this daunting assignment to rest.
As a whole, the elevator pitch assignment, coupled with a market analysis paper, served as an effective capping to the first half of the class. They forced us to articulate and analyze our startup ideas, which will serve as a foundation for the rest of the semester. Watching the rest of my peers deliver their pitches makes me happy to report that we all seemed to have prepared and rehearsed ahead of time. This made critiquing my peers a little harder, because for most of my assigned critiques, I wasn’t able to point out many errors in their presentations (aside from the occasional “like” and “um”). However, if it’s hard to spot error among your peers, is that necessarily a bad thing?