You never know when you're going to have to sell your idea.
Sometimes an opportunity to pitch your idea to someone who could contribute to its success comes out of nowhere. Whether that's a potential investor, customer or a journalist, you should perfect a standard minute-long spiel that concisely identifies the need for your product and how it can solve that need. A slightly longer version of the famous "elevator pitch," the 60-second pitch is best deployed at networking events, in meetings and even to kick off presentations.
So how can you seize the interest of your audience within a minute?
1. Start with several questions that illustrate the need for your product
The best way to get a listener to immediately zero in on what you’re saying is to ask them a few pertinent questions- ones that could help you underline the need for your product. You can introduce some startling facts through a line of questioning. “What would cause them to think, ‘Really?!’” Strategic communications expert Sam Horn told Fast Company. “What recent data could you reference that offers fresh insight into the problem you’re solving, the issue you’re addressing, the need you’re meeting? What respected resource can you reference that shows a sudden shift in a trend, a dramatic increase in your target demographics, a relevant change in a regulation?” If you're pitching a new venture that makes it easier for people to recycle plastics, you might start off by asking if the audience is aware of how much plastic waste is found on the coastlines every year. Or you could ask if they are aware that pollution could be reduced by a certain percent with one specific action.
2. Visualize the solutions to those questions
After you've got your target audience considering your questions, quickly transition and ask them to visualize various answers. Use phrases like “Imagine if...” or “What if....” to start and then put that solution right in front of them. Using the example above, something like "Imagine if there was an easy way for people to decrease that plastic waste from the coastlines. What if we gave them a financial incentive to do so?" Once you've got them thinking about that, you move into the next step.
3. Introduce yourself as the solution
Basically, find a way to say, “I’ve figured out a way to make this happen.” Suddenly the idea of solving these issues isn't some sort of aspiration. It's a reality, thanks to your company. Take the Plastic Bank as an example: if entrepreneur and CEO David Katz were doing this kind of pitch, he might say “The Plastic Bank has already created an answer. By allowing people to turn plastic waste into currency, we can clean up shores while providing resources to poor people all over the world.”
4. Don't get caught up in the details just yet
One of the biggest mistakes someone can make in a 60-second pitch is trying to cram too many details into that minute. Try to keep it simple. You're better off presenting a problem, solution and why you're the solution. No one needs to hear a full business plan right away. If you're delivering this pitch to a group of people, you can explain more about the project to interested parties. If it's a one-on-one pitch, and the person you're speaking with can allot more time, let them guide the conversation after you've stated your initial case. If you've done a good enough job presenting the pitch, they should have plenty of detailed follow-up questions.
5. Adapt to your audience
The approach of presenting a problem, opportunity, and your business as the solution should work no matter the audience, although it makes sense to be mindful of what elements of your idea could have the most resonance in certain situations. Going back to the Plastic Bank, if Katz were speaking at a World Bank summit on poverty, it would make more sense to focus on the plastic as currency angle, asking questions about poverty rates and showcasing how people in impoverished countries can get needed resources by exchanging plastic. If he were at a conference sponsored by Greenpeace, the main angle might be more of the environmental benefits that come from all of the collection and recycling of the recovered plastic waste.
The Venture is a new global social enterprise initiative searching for extraordinary startups and new ideas that use business to create positive change. If you have a GCC-based social enterprise or an idea for a social enterprise, enter The Venture #WinTheRightWay to potentially win your share of US$1 million.