Why Elevator Pitches Are a Pitch-Perfect Way to Present Your Idea
Eighteen minutes. That is how long a TED talk takes. It is in no more than these eighteen minutes that TED speakers are asked to present their intricate ideas and lifelong research in an understandable manner to the world. Whereas this already seems like a fair challenge to most, speakers at the TEDxAUCollege Pitch Night upcoming Wednesday only get three minutes to do the same task. In a sixth of the time, these speakers need to convince an audience and a jury that their idea belongs on the (Dis)connect event on the 7th of March. Giving brilliant minds only such little time on stage may seem unfair at first sight: how can three minutes possibly do justice to the speakers’ ideas? However, the length of these so-called ‘elevator pitches’ is exactly why they are so effective in modern society.
There exist two different theories about the origin of the elevator pitch. The most glamorous of the two goes back to Hollywood, to the golden days of movie making. People from different ages and origins came to the capital of film with their scripts in their hands, hoping to get rich in a blink. These people would chase producers and people of influence everywhere to sell their ideas: even on elevators. These short encounters were all they had to make an impression, which meant their story needed to be clear, concise and exciting: the ‘elevator pitch’ was born.
According to the second theory, the term was born from the first demonstration of an elevator with a safety brake. If either of these stories are true is however unclear. It might be more likely that people started to deliver shorter and shorter pitches and the term elevator pitch just stuck. The attribution of the creation of the elevator pitch to one moment in history is maybe too much of a stretch.
Regardless of where the term itself may come from, the elevator pitch has become an important tool of persuasion in today’s society. It has proven itself to be very useful in a variety of settings: for example on a job interview, on a speed date or, in this case, at a TEDx event. And the main reason the elevator pitch is such a success is probably because of its signifying length, or rather its shortness, which fits perfectly with nowadays’ society’s high pace.
Modern society is moving faster than ever and this is partly due to technology. Whereas for example reading the newspaper was first an activity you needed to sit down for, we can now read the newspaper on our phones whilst doing other things. Technology enables us to do things faster and logically, this has increased the speed of people’s daily lives.
Which is why long sales presentations or never-ending meetings have become out of date. People do not have and do not take the time anymore to listen to you and your PowerPoint presentation for half an hour. Moreover, people’s concentration spans have gotten shorter because of society’s higher pace. This means that if you want to present an idea and get someone’s attention, you need to be quick and passionate about it: and let the elevator pitch be the perfect way to do that.
Elevator pitches also perfectly suit today’s networking culture. Networking has become an important way to boost your career and by being able to make a strong point within less than a few minutes, you can reach a big audience in very little time. The elevator pitch can this way help to bring both your network skills and your career to a higher level.
While convincing an audience of your idea within only three minutes might be challenging, it is at the same time one of the most effective ways to do so. The elevator pitch is an absolute attention grabber. TEDxAUCollege’s Pitch Night therefore promises to be an inspiring and activating event, which will have you sit on the edge of your seat and hold your attention for as long as the night lasts. Don’t miss out!
– By Christine van der Horst