Breath of fresh air: elevator pitches are for creeps

I came across this article Lose the Elevator Pitch and it’s one of the best pieces of business advice I’ve read recently.

I’ve never thought much of the “elevator pitch.” I don’t like the culture that promotes it, nor the consulting/marketing/advice givers that proselytize this sound-byte packaging.

At it’s best, it is mere showmanship. At it’s worst, it is dehumanizing. Usually, it is just obnoxious. Now, I do understand that many people can learn how to discuss themselves, or their business, or product, or whatever, in a more engaging way. They can learn to read their audience. They can be more animated. They can learn to weave in a good story. But the cure for dull, underwhelming communication is not sound byte lingo.

There is a lot of business press about selling yourself. About positioning yourself. And getting comfortable spewing contrived messaging about what an asset you are. It’s rampant. Plus, people of influence encourage it. In sales, pre-rehearsal is a way of life. Today’s popular networking and career advice is to do the same. So we ought to intentionally sound canned and contrived? Please spare me.

And you don’t need to read much advice about startups before coming across the advice that you should be able to pitch your investor by the time he steps off the elevator. Many investors are the ones promoting this. I think it’s a joke. I found a consulting company Elevator Speech (yes, I guess the company is actually called that) and while I’m sure these guys are well intentioned, my head hurts imagining what their newly trained robot clients sound like. The bottom line is, all this elevator pitch business is about being the fastest bull**it slinger in the room.

Ironically, companies claim that people are their most important asset…and that they seek out the best talent. Is it really that they seek out the people that can sling you know what the fastest?

And of course, investors are interested in teams. “We invest in teams” might as well be a battle cry. Is it really, we invest in teams that can deliver…ahem, ahem… faster than you can say “due diligence is for wimps”?

Obviously, this topic is a pet peeve of mine. And I can be guilty of sound byte thinking, too. But let’s just be honest: the smartest and most interesting folks in the room probably don’t speak in sound bytes.


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