I want to train myself to tell my company's story in 60 seconds or less. What tips do you have for doing so?
--Darren M., Athens, GA
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business's development and growth.
A: Don't Rush It!
For something as important as creating a first impression with a business summary, you need to show a lot of confidence, and people can read your confidence in how you speak. By editing your story ruthlessly so it's down to 50 seconds each time--all the time--you give yourself 10 more seconds of free space in case you need to pause or tell the story slower. Your audience will be more receptive too. --
A: Answer the "Why"
The biggest mistake people make is describing what they do, but completely leaving out the "why." By incorporating the problem that you're solving into your 60-second pitch, you'll stand out and help communicate your message and value proposition much more strongly than most other entrepreneurs. --
A: Boil Your Brand Down
Distill your brand down to its key essence. Come up with the three biggest facts about your brand, and then weave them around your brand's mission statement or key message. Be concise, confident and smile. --
A: Watch It!
I used to rehearse my pitches, blurbs and speeches for hours. I did slowly get better, but I didn't see a major leap in professionalism and content until I forced myself to deliver my message to a video camera. Repetition in front of a camera is the fast track to presenting. Then you just have to get out there and do it...again, again and again. --
A: Problem, Cost, Solution
Segment your overview using the outline of "Problem, Cost, Solution." What problem does your company solve? What does it cost your customers to use/buy? And what are you doing to differentiate you from others in the space? --
A: Listen Up
Look around at other companies and how they break down their stories in a nutshell. See what you like or dislike about their pitch, then apply those tactics to your own story. It's amazing what you can learn from others that ultimately teaches you something about your own business--even if it's a simple pitch. --
A: Meet New People
Use every time you meet someone new as a chance to rehearse and refine your 60-second pitch. If you just do it in front of the mirror or your spouse, you're not going to stick with it. Get excited with every new interaction because it gives you a chance to further experiment with your messaging and immediately see what sticks. Adjust accordingly for the next person. Repeat. --
A: Think Like Your Client
Write it down. Read it. If you were a potential customer, would you care? The answer is probably "no," so go back to the drawing board, stat. The "stories" (business or otherwise) that we all love are those we relate to, with characters and problems we understand--not jargon or unfounded claims that sound and feel like a sales pitch. And yes, this exercise works for your other content, too. --
A: Collect Real Feedback
When you're training yourself to tell your company's story, pitch to a few people to get feedback. When other people hear your story, they will be able to offer feedback as to how much it convinces them to do business with you. You will learn what's working and what needs to be improved. --
A: Stick to Six Words
Can you start a conversation by telling them what you do in six words or less? For example, "We help people sell digital files." If they are interested, they will ask you a question about it. Try to get to know them, listen to their problems, and figure out how your product can solve their problems. --
A: Get Professional Coaching
Even as a young entrepreneur, paying for this type of coaching is invaluable. Your entire business is based on this pitch, so even if you have to get creative and barter services with a coach, it will be worth it. Breaking your pitch down to the bare essentials that shows the value, has a great hook and resonates with the audience is not an easy task. Don't be afraid to ask for help! --