Failing at the Elevator Pitch

Nemo / Pixabay

Nemo / Pixabay

So yesterday was a big day!  My wife and I were hosting a team of six folks at our place to chat about the mid-sized community that we all help lead.  My goal at this meeting was to cast the missional/incarnational vision very clearly so that the six of us could dream together about how to shift our group from away from being attractional.

So I had been praying and preparing for several days.  I had a solid feel for what I would say and how I would say it.  Then I checked my email and I noticed a message from the Michael Hyatt newsletter.  If you don’t know, Michael Hyatt is a publisher, author, blogger, and leadership coach and consultant.  There’s a bunch of stuff on his blog about leadership, personal development, developing your brand, etc.  He’s really great!

Well the email from his newsletter linked to a really interesting article called “Why You Need an Elevator Pitch (and How to Create One)”  An elevator pitch is a short but effective way to tell someone about your idea in a limited amount of time, say the amount of time you have in an elevator with someone.  Michael Hyatt gave four pieces of advice:

  1. Describe your idea.
  2. Talk about the problem.
  3. How can your idea help solve the problem.
  4. What’s the key benefit of your idea.

I wrote these four phrases on a piece of paper and stuck it in my pocket.  My plan was that all throughout the day I would use the elevator pitch idea to think more carefully about how to cast vision with the team that evening.  I practiced while driving, in my mind while hanging out with friends, while in the shower, before leading a devotional, while at an immigration-reform rally, and then while cleaning the house.

I had honed the pitch down to two sentences: “My hope is for us to view ourselves as missionaries where we work, play, and live because the “if you build it, they will come” version of church just isn’t working anymore.  We can accomplish this by being more intentional about our up (connection with God), our in (community), and our out (service) and in so doing we can begin to express tangibly God’s love in our world.”

Saying those two sentences takes no more than thirty seconds.  That’s it.  Thirty seconds.

Why, then, in the moment with the team in our living room, did I spend twenty minutes explaining the vision!  Ugh.  I really blew it.  Luckily the team knows me pretty well and each of them has extended grace to me before.  And, despite my inadequacies, they all seemed to understand what I was talking about to some degree.

It wasn’t a total loss.  But as an elevator pitch it was an epic failure!

Has something like this ever happened to you?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Here’s book I recommend by Michael Hyatt about developing your brand: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

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