Writing an elevator pitch for a company is undoubtedly a difficult experience. I believe in the practice of writing and employing elevator pitches; in fact as a part of my political science capstone I will have to deliver one on my project in front of all of the professors. The difference, however, is this is a project that I have been developing three years and doing the research on by hand.
While I love the idea of Tripartisan, only one student in our group has taken business related classes and thus learning to build a business in the span of 8 weeks is hard. Knowing the kind of research required or what should be included in a market segment is difficult when your training is sparse. Moreover plenty of people spend years developing their pitches and their products, doing trial runs and pivoting as needed. That means students with only a few class periods to prepare an elevator pitch is about as unprepared as they can be.
I think the most difficult part was not being able to get feedback from our classmates before we received a final grade. I’ll be honest I hadn’t prepared as much as I’d have liked and I make no excuses for that, it was poor time management on my part. I was lucky in that Catherine was in class early and we used the time to pitch our speeches back and forth. What I think could have really helped the vast majority of students would have been some time to develop our pitches in our groups. Not to the point that we all had the same pitch, word for word; but so we could distill the core essence of our business plan and build from there. While rehearsing with Catherine, I listened to her speech and refined some of my talking points.
I also believe that having smaller groups would benefit a lot of people. I highly doubt many of us are going to be pitching an idea to 20 college students and their professor with any regularity. In fact, most of the pitches we saw (excluding those done at a competition) were done in front of a small group of venture capitalists. Sometimes the fact that the class – especially a big class – is made of people you know and respect makes it difficult to deliver a speech. You know exactly who is going to laugh when, who is checking their Facebook and who has their fingers and toes crossed praying they don’t screw up their speech. It’s comforting and yet oddly alienating; unlike the big competitions, we can’t walk away from this class and tell ourselves we’ll do better next time. We know we’re going to continue to see everyone; that our “sneaky journalist” mistakes are going to follow us into the next class.
The benefits of elevator pitches are amazing. They can land you jobs. They can score you points with your boss when investors show up unannounced at the doorstep. But they are terrifying. They can’t be under-practiced or over-practiced and the judges will hear your sales department voice a mile away. That’s what makes elevator pitches like Band-Aids, sometimes you just have to rip them off and focus on doing better next time.