Elevator Pitch: Minimum Words for Maximum Results

Published January 18, 2018

Remember this?

original-ipod-1st-generation

It’s one of the original iPods. And while it might seem like a relic, it’s still only a few years old—at least in relation to the beginning of time.

When Apple introduced this, it was a marvel of technology. It would not only go on to change the music industry, it would eventually go on to change the cell phone industry, how we interact with the internet and even impact our daily lives. The iPod was a great idea.

But it’s not enough to have a great idea. You must have the ability to communicate your idea in a way that other people understand it and gravitate toward it.  

That’s true with your ideas, with my ideas, and it was true with the iPod.

Steve Jobs understood that a great idea doesn’t sell itself, even though we’ve been led to believe that. There are millions of great ideas that you and I have never heard of—not because they weren’t great ideas. The reason we’ve never heard of them is because of a principle I want to teach you.

A great idea poorly communicated is a stalled idea. 

This is why many great ideas never gain traction.

Steve Jobs understood this and he worked hard at making sure the great idea of the iPod wasn’t poorly communicated.

He understood that A Great Idea + Great Communication = Momentum.

On the day he introduced the iPod, instead of getting caught up in all the technical jargon, which would have been interesting to some, he combined a great idea with great communication that everyone could understand.

He chose to explain the iPod in a simple, clear and compelling manner.

He communicated it to us in the form of a picture—one that was both easy to understand and amazing to think about.

“What’s an iPod?” he asked, on the day he presented it. “It’s like having a thousand songs in your pocket.”

The next day, the Wall Street Journal published this headline: iPod: A Thousand songs in your pocket.

A Great Idea + Great Communication = Momentum.

This seems easy. But, it’s not.

Communicating your idea with clarity and simplicity requires a lot of work. In fact, it takes more time to prepare shorter messages.

As President Woodrow Wilson once said about his message preparation, “If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

Here’s a secret that many people overlook when it comes to communicating their ideas: Minimum words often create maximum results.

When I work with clients on pitching their ideas, they often show up with a massive slide deck as if more and more content will impress.

It rarely does.

Less is more. Clarity reigns. Simple wins.

As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” (And consider Dr. Einstein’s plight. He had to explain the theory of relativity. Now, that’s a challenge!)

This is why the analogy of an elevator pitch is powerful. If you were given the opportunity to explain and pitch your idea to a possible investor or supporter, could you do it on a short elevator ride?

If not, perhaps it’s why your idea may have stalled.

Too often, leaders are convinced their ideas aren’t good enough when, in reality, it actually might be the communication of your idea that is the real problem.

Do you have an idea or program that seems stalled?

If so, take a hard, honest look at how you are communicating your idea. Can you communicate it effectively in 3 – 5 minutes?

If not, it might be a clue into why you are stuck—and how to get unstuck.

About the Author
Since 2003, Jeff Henderson has helped lead three of North Point Ministries’ locations in the Atlanta Georgia area.

Jeff Henderson

Lead Pastor

Gwinnett Church

Since 2003, Jeff Henderson has helped lead three of North Point Ministries’ locations in the Atlanta Georgia area. He was recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of twenty speakers you shouldn’t miss. Prior to serving as a pastor, Jeff worked in marketing with the Atlanta Braves, Callaway Gardens, Lanier Islands and Chick-fil-A, Inc where he led the company’s regional and sports marketing strategies. He recently released his first book, Know What You're FOR: A Growth Strategy for Work, An Even Better Strategy for Life.

Discussion
  1. RJ Riemer
    Jul 13 2018 3PM
    Brilliant article. Short and simple and to the point, too.

We welcome and encourage comments on this site. There may be some instances where comments will need to be edited or removed, such as:

  • Comments deemed to be spam or solely promotional in nature
  • Comments not relevant to the topic
  • Comments containing profane, offensive, or abusive language
  • Anonymous comments

If you have any questions on the commenting policy, please let us know at heretoserve@globalleadership.org

THURSDAY-FRIDAY, AUGUST 6-7, 2020Register for the 2020 Global Leadership Summit

$139*

*Price as low as $139 per attendee for groups of 16 or more, $149 per attendee for of 6-15 and $169 per attendee for individual(s). Not valid for South Barrington’s Main Auditorium and Peak Experiences.

You are located in: US
Let's Connect

“We welcome and encourage comments on this site. There may be some instances where comments will need to be edited or removed, such as:

If you have any questions on the commenting policy, please let us know at heretoserve@globalleadership.org”

Select your location

Select your location