10 Rookie Mistakes You're Making in Your Startup Elevator Pitch

Ahhh, elevator pitches, the always-being-perfected spiel you’ll give hundreds, if not thousands, of times on your journey of being an entrepreneur.

With elevator pitches, there are so many places where things can go wrong. You may be thinking, “How hard can a less than 60 second speech actually be?”

>> Click HERE to download our FREE Ultimate Elevator Pitch Template & Guide! 

Flippin hard! During our first year as a company, we couldn’t figure out our elevator pitch. Every time I tried to give it, I sounded like I was talking about a different company. Granted, we were going through an identity crisis of our own, trying to figure out what exact direction we were going in. Were we a crowdfunding site? Education site? Mentorship site? Well, we’re a combo of the three. And we had to make an elevator pitch work for that.

Here are the biggest elevator pitch mistakes we made (that you’re probably making, too!). These mistakes can make you look naive, unprepared, and unenjoyable to converse with.

1. You’re not pitching your vision.

  • Stop focusing on your widget that’s coded using the latest and greatest css, html, or whatever. Start focusing on what problem you’re trying to solve. We made the mistake of talking too much about what our platform does instead of what it accomplishes for the end user.

2. You’re using industry language/jargon.

  • This mistake is more common in the sciences/tech industry. Using terminology that only industry insiders understand is a big NO NO. Scientific terminology should not go in an elevator pitch. Even using terms like CSS, HTML, up-selling, cross-selling, & lean startup aren’t understood by all. A good rule of thumb, use words your parents would understand.

3. You’re using too many numbers.

  • Numbers matter. But not all of them matter in the elevator. Using too many sets of numbers or statistics will really confuse the listener. Or worse, make them zone out because they’re bored. Here’s the hard truth: Numbers are boring. It’s hard to get personal with someone when you’re spouting out stats like a robot.

4. You’re saying too much/taking too much time.

  • People’s attention spans are shorter than you think. They don’t want to listen to you go on about yourself. After 3 sentences, you might loose them. If they’re drifting or looking elsewhere, your pitch is too long.

5. You’re not involving the listener.

  • Ask them if they’ve had experience with the particular pain you’re solving. Find a way to relate with them and your elevator pitch will lead into natural conversation. THAT’S THE GOAL HERE. Those conversations are the ones that will open doors for you. They might know someone you can connect with, partner with, or offer other things to help you move forward.

6. You’re not getting to the point.

  • Again, what problem are you solving and how are you solving it. It’s that simple, keep it that way.

7. You memorized your elevator pitch.

  • Memorizing does not work for several reasons. One, it’s easy to see through and tell it’s memorized. You sound robotic, when the goal is to be personable. 2nd, memorizing a single elevator pitch is a bad idea because you will not have one elevator pitch. You’ll have tons of variations of it depending on who you’re speaking to. (See the next point for more about this!).

8. You haven’t practiced different scenarios.

  • You need elevators for different audiences. Investors, potential partners, potential customers, family & friends, networking for mentors/advisors, the list goes on. Think about what each of these different listeners will find valuable. Then practice talking about it.

9. You’re not humble & sound like a know-it-all.

  • Half of the pitch is what you’re saying, the other half is how you say it. We’ve heard tons of entrepreneurs talk like they’ve invented the most wonderful thing ever made and it’s going to be a success and they don’t care what anyone has to say about it. Yes, you should be confident about what you’re working on. But confidence can easily turn into arrogance if you’re not aware of it. Speak enthusiastically, but pay attention to the last point below.

10. You don’t ask for feedback right after you give it.

  • Ask them what they think. Listen to what they say. Thank them for saying it. Even if you disagree with it. Don’t argue. Just move on. You’ll look professional and grateful. Being grateful opens doors. It builds relationships. It will take you places. Making others feel good is the best way to network. Remember, the elevator pitch is to lead into that networking conversation.

So there you have it, our top mistakes we made trying to perfect our elevator pitch. To help you nail your pitch, we made a jam-packed Ultimate Elevator Pitch Template & Guide so you can build your perfect elevator pitch. The best part? It’s totally free! Click here to download your copy now!