How to pitch your idea

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The author Dan Pink writes that we are all in the business of moving others now in his book To Sell is Human.

Whether it’s persuading others to back an idea or strategy to what people think of as traditional sales, all of us are increasingly required to pitch our ideas and get support in order to do anything.

The test for whether an idea was clear was the elevator pitch. Could you succinctly sum it up in 30 seconds or less as you went up an elevator with someone important.

But… we rarely share lifts with important people any more. What do you do when you don’t have an elevator available and you want to get their attention and spark interest?

Dan Pink describes six successors to the elevator pitch. It might help to remember them as you look at the symbols on your keyboard that match the ones in the picture.

1. ! The one word pitch

Can you describe your idea in one word?

Pink suggests starting with a short description, say 50 words. Cut it down to 25. Cut again to 10. One of those that is left is the one word that describes what you do.

For example, the website of Patek Philippe, the luxury watch brand, has the word Aesthetic scrolling on its homepage.

In an interesting twist, they have the one word that they feel describes the beauty of their product in several languages.

2. ? The question pitch

If you are sure of your facts and logic, then asking a question is a powerful way to get started.

WaterAid, a charity that helps bring clean water and toilets to people who lack basic sanitary provisons around the world, simply asks Are you ready? on their website.

Then they explain their goals and how you can get involved.

3. = The rhyme pitch

A rhyme sticks in your mind.

Pink says that if you are in competition with others, coming up with a rhyme that summarises what you do will help people remember your firm and potentially give you an advantage.

4. @ The tweet

Can you summarise what you do in less than 140 characters?

Apple is a company that mastered this approach with short, snappy lines under Steve Jobs.

“1,000 songs in your pocket” and “The world’s thinnest notebook” still probably bring to mind the iPod and the Mac Air.

5. _ The subject line

Email is still where most of us live, and where we get the most junk.

To stand out, your email must do at least one of two things, and preferably both, according to Pink.

It must have utility – a clear statement of whats in it for the reader.

It must spark curiosity – a desire to learn more.

6. ” “ The story pitch

The story pitch, also called the Pixar pitch, says that every Pixar pitch has the same formula:

  • Once upon a time…
  • Evey day…
  • One day …
  • Because of that, …
  • Because of that, …
  • Until finally, …

Pink’s site has a few videos that also explain these in more detail – and the book is a pretty good read as well.

The next time you’re stuck for a way to craft your pitch, just look down at your keyboard and remember the six new options you now have.

!?=@_” “

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