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How Adele’s Secret Can Make Your Elevator Pitch Sing

How Adele’s Secret Can Make Your Elevator Pitch Sing

Just to let you know…

this will not be an ordinary set of tips on how to write a great elevator speech.

You’ve read enough of those in the past.

That being said,  if you’ve ever been to a networking event, a business conference, pitched an investor, or simply had someone at a party ask you, “So what do you do?”

you know that uncomfortable moment while you quickly try to respond with something brilliant and memorable about your business in 30-seconds  or less.

If so many articles have been written by business gurus about  how to craft a great elevator speech ……


Why are  elevator speeches still so HORRIBLY boring and such a turnoff?

To answer this question….

I had to dig a whole lot deeper than those top 10 tip articles.

I wanted to know:

…how do you get people to hang on to your every word?

How do you entice them to want to get better acquainted and potentially open their wallets – in  30 seconds or less?

A few months ago, WWW.NPR.ORG posted an article about British Grammy winner Adele, and posed the question,

“What is it about a song like “Someone Like You” that makes it such an emotional powder keg? *

The article refers to the familiar experience of listening to a piece of music that moves us, sometimes almost (or actually to) tears.

A professor of music psychology at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, John Sloboda,  investigates physical reactions to music and found that one musical treatment in particular can actually trigger such a strong emotional reaction. It’s called an appoggiatura.

Basically, appoggiatura is when musical dissonance moves into consonance. In Adele’s song “Someone Like You” appoggiatura can be heard when she sings the word ‘you’ in the chorus heard here:

Someone Like You Chorus *(scroll down to mid-page to hear the chorus clip)

How our Brains Are Wired

“Our brains are wired to pick up the music that we expect,” says Sloboda.

When Adele, as Sloboda says, “bounces around on the note “you” ….. there is a tension that is created, then released. It’s like an upset that is then resolved, and an emotional release follows.

That’s interesting but what the heck does that have to do with giving your elevator speech?

Let me explain…

Take a look at all great speakers -they too create tension and then resolution. Look at how attentive people are in the presence of that kind of speaking.

Now, in the case of Adele, I’ll give you it’s probably as much about the outrageous timber of her voice and the passion in her lyrics creating that emotional earthquake in the song as appoggiatura but still, she grabs you with her voice.

Can you apply this mega-powerful technique to grab your listeners’ attention and keep it – even if your voice is only good enough for the shower?

Absolutely yes – and here’s how:

Say the unexpected + tap into your listeners’ emotions = listeners hanging on to your every word. tweet this!

The Best Elevator Pitch Example

The best elevator speech example I ever heard  was Joel Cooperman’s.  Joel is the Managing Partner of Citrin Cooperman & Co, one of the fastest growing CPA firms in the country.

Joel started his firm back in the 70’s but about 10 years ago, he decided to lead his firm into a major growth spurt. Among other things, he did some real evaluation of his own personal marketing style and approach.

He spent weeks crafting his new elevator pitch as part of this marketing renovation.

Now, when Joel is asked what he does, his elevator pitch could easily be “I’m  the Managing Partner of a 400+ person accounting firm” Many managing partners say something typical just like that.

Not Joel.

Joel Cooperman’s elevator pitch?

I’m not that great an accountant. My partners are. But if you want your business to make more money I’m the guy you want to work with.

This elevator pitch rocks; let’s break it down:

Dissonance -(I’m not that great an accountant ; expresses major unexpected vulnerability and humility. You almost feel a little bad for him – tapping into your emotions)

Consonance -(My partners are great accountants)

More consonance (Want to make more money? – I’m your guy- trust me, feel confident with me, let me solve your biggest fear-based problem)

Joel’s elevator pitch has it all: 3 very short sentences, (under 140 characters in fact), saying something totally unexpected and pulling at your emotions on a couple of levels.

Joel realized something quite brilliant:

The way people’s brains are wired makes it hard for them  to hear something unless it’s different, unexpected, and hits them where they can really feel it -in their need and want place.

When people  give  long-winded, boring elevator speeches, filled with fancy words and irrelevant benefit statements, people stop listening and start closing their wallets.

You can almost feel people cringing in the room.

Check out the 3 worst mistakes I hear people make in giving their elevator pitches (confession: I’ve been guilty of some of these myself):

  • They are same old, same old (ORDINARY) and use mitigating words**
  • They give benefit statements vs. talking about solutions for the listener’s big pain points and problems
  • They are too long and explanatory

(Malcolm Gladwell,  in his book, Outliers, mentions the term used by linquists “mitigating speech.” This term refers to an attempt to downplay or sugarcoat the meaning of what is being said.)

Very often, when people give their elevator pitch, they use downplaying words because they don’t want to promise too much, they are embarrassed to toot their own horn, or worry that they’ll look and sound arrogant.

If you mitigate your speech, you risk putting them to sleep. tweet this!

What You Should Do Now

To create an elevator pitch that GRABS their attention, doesn’t let go and ensures they’ll say, “Really? Tell me more…” use these  5 SIMPLE  tactics:

1.    Solve a big problem people want to fix

2.   Be Brief (2-3 short sentences at most)

3.    Be Bold (don’t mitigate your message)

4.    Be different and disarming

5.    Get to them on an emotional level, or tell a story

Want a new formula for revamping your tired, old, boring, ineffective Elevator Pitch?

Make your elevator pitch a “pow pitch” – influential, memorable, and ‘tweetable‘ with ElevatorPitch140™ Click Here

Now it’s you’re turn-

What’s your best elevator pitch tip? Share it below. And if you’re brave enough, share your elevator pitch! I love promoting the good ones.

More resources:

** Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell, 2008, pg. 194

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  1. My best tip is: Don’t start with “Hi, my name is xxx and my company is xxx” or, after being introduced and asked the question don’t say “My company’s name is xxx” – you’ve already lost the person.

    Personally, I have multiple speeches depending on whether I’m trying to get a room’s attention before sharing more, or speaking 1-1.

    Examples of the former are: I put the hours back in your day and the quality back in your life or Just because you use technology doesn’t mean you know how to use technology.
    The latter: I help companies become more efficient so they can be more productive, utilizing technology and processes. (I’m invariably asked for more information.)

  2. Nancy Fox says:

    Having more than one elevator pitch is an excellent strategy. I also recommend looking at each of yours to see if you have
    been bold enough, disarming, memorable enough to capture attention, and get at their emotions. Putting hours back in their day has some
    bigger possibilities.

  3. Your advice about not “mitigating” resonated with me personally. And, when I consider how naturally many women move into mitigating speech with men, it strikes me how powerful the implications of your advice are for the online dating scene (my blog’s main area of focus).

    I’m curious, Nancy, what advice you’d give to women who want to capture the attention of the men who visit their online dating profiles. How can we do “elevator speeches” in our personal lives? I almost cringe asking you that, because the last thing I’d want is to encourage people to equate dating to a business proposition. But, in so many ways, the two scenarios are similar. In online dating, as with the classic biz elevator pitch, you have only a moment to capture someone’s attention–with profile headline…and then with opening sentence.

    I have found your advice helpful already in pitching the business services I offer. (Thank you!!!) And now I am fascinated to think how to apply your precepts to online dating profiles. Hmmmmmm….

  4. Nancy Fox says:

    Gina, what an interesting observation and question. While I wouldn’t say I am knowledgeable about dating, the Formula is still the same because the objective is to capture the right people’s attention and hold it.
    It’s all about being bold, connecting to someone on that emotional level, and telling them what’s in it for them/solving the problem they want fixed.
    Use that formula and see what difference that makes for you and your clients.

  5. As you and I know it’s all about being human…creating affinity, connection, empathy with our business, social, and personal networks. And….with the all important customer and customer to be!

    Thanks for another great post — the sweet spot of human interaction is usually less complicated than many make it — you showed it in today’s blog, so well.

  6. Nancy Fox says:

    Thanks Janine. Human-ness, connecting on the human level, is what moves people, and as you say, should be less complicated.
    Funny how complicated it becomes. That’s why a little formula, and the ElevatorPitch140 tool to help
    uncomplicate it all.

  7. I like the notion that your elevator speech should grab someone’s attention, focus on a solution and not be the same old same old. You helped me craft mine that way, I used it and people responded differently to it than anything that I used in the past. It sparked interest and conversation.

  8. Nancy Fox says:

    Perfect, that’s the exact response we want to generate – get them interested and related.
    GREAT, thanks for sharing.

  9. Nice post Nancy – that is indeed a great introduction statement.
    i like the way he’s brave enough to say he’s an accountant too. So many people come up with something cheesy because they’re almost embarrassed by what they do.

    I hear accountants use variants of “I help my clients sleep better at night” all the time. They’ve got that they don’t want to just say “I’m an accountant” and trigger the stereotypes – but they go too far the other way. They’re so abstract it’s meaningless. So he other person has to say “what does that mean” and then when they explain they’re an accountant it feels like they were trying to hide it.


  10. Nancy Fox says:

    That’s a good observation Ian. Trying to be intriguing in an inauthentic way doesn’t serve either person. And not wanting to say “I’m an accountant” is an example of mitigating speech. Thanks for your observations.

  11. After reading this article I came up with my elevator speech. This is the premier of my very first one (sure I will refine it as time goes on and judging by the reactions I get).

    I am a DIY girl. I healed myself from IBS even though doctors told me it was incurable. I am teaching others to do the same.
    Doctors say IBS is incurable and I had it bad. But I healed it completely and can help others do it too.

    Thanks for a great article. Very useful.

  12. Nancy Fox says:

    Angela, great elevator pitch – and very tweetable – Thanks for sharing and glad you are healthy.

  13. Thanks so much Nancy – with this new information I have crafted a new and meaningful Elevator Song. Here it is : I have sometimes not been as healthy as I’d like and yet I do work with an incredibly successful Wellness Company. Now I show Women how to have a Healthier Physical and Financial Life.
    Thank You again.

  14. Nancy Fox says:

    Glad to hear how you’ve put your experience into your elevator pitch.
    Thanks Gail

  15. Nancy — I used ElevatorPitch140 and it works.

    It is so simple, can’t believe I’ve been trying to figure this out for so long. I got my very first 12 month sales consulting gig with it. Brilliant! Thanks!


  16. Nancy, I love that your post is quick and easy and resonates – like a great elevator pitch! Now, I think I’m going to go rework mine. Thanks for the great information.

  17. Nancy Fox says:

    This is so great to hear, Jenny. Congratulations and I’m thrilled that a simple tool helped you make that happen!

  18. Nancy Fox says:

    Thanks Karen – let me know how it goes!

  19. Nancy, using the elevator speech you helped me create helped me get a new client this week. Thank you!

  20. Nancy Fox says:

    Fantastic, Randy, and congrats on the new client!

  21. I love Adele (and appoggiatura). And I agree. It is the job of the communicator to say — and do — the unexpected. Well said.

  22. Nancy Fox says:

    Thanks Jeff, for your comment. Let us know of your “unexpected” message, or when you hear a message that really catches your attention.

  23. Danielle Roper says:

    Love this article, as many elevator pitch articles i’ve read, this one really just speaks to me and just gives me confidence that I can to do it! You really know what people want to hear, what makes an impression, and what can truly get someone the job!

    I was wondering if you could give more examples of elevator pitches like I’m trying to break into the entertainment industry as a casting director. What’s something unexpected or emotion compelling I could say that relates to casting?

    Like say I was applying to become a casting director’s assistant, because that’s a great way to break into business. So I could be like

    I’m definately not your cookie cutter assistant.
    I will say the wrong things at the wrong times, annoy you with my dedication, impress you with my passion and make it worthwhile along the way.

  24. Nancy Fox says:

    Thanks Danielle. If you click on the ElevatorPitch140 box, you will find some elevator pitch examples.
    If you can add any quantities or put some tangibles into your elevatorpitch (how specifically do you make it worthwhile?)
    you will increase your interest level and potential conversions.