Richard Branson loves a great elevator pitch.
Sure, the British business magnate is valued at an estimated net worth of $5.1 billion…
And undoubtedly has countless resources for rooting out new investment opportunities…
But you just can’t beat the frantic energy of a good old-fashioned elevator pitch.
“A great pitch can do many things,” Branson said in an interview with the Daily Monitor.
“It can convince potential investors and clients that you are worth taking a chance on. It can also help you recruit top talent that can help your business expand.
“These are essential ingredients for a successful venture.”
But what exactly makes a “great pitch?”
How do you or I convince a big-shot investor to take a chance on our big idea in 30 seconds or less?
What separates the entrepreneurs of tomorrow from folks who harass millionaires in their free time?
I’ve made my fair share of elevator pitches in my time. Some have been successful. Some have been absolute disasters. But I had no idea why some pitches worked and some didn’t.
To me they were all equally great/disastrous.
I put the question to self-made millionaire James Altucher. He’s made his fair share of elevator pitches in his time. But now people come to him to pitch their ideas.
I wanted to know how you could get someone on your side in 30 seconds…
He said he could do it in 10.
All the best,
Editor, Money & Crisis
P.S. Tired of having to kiss up to other folks just to fund your great ideas? Check out James Altucher’s powerful income-building strategy. You can use this simple technique to yank $3,000 out of the stock market every month. Click here and he’ll show you how to do it yourself. Don’t delay. You only have until midnight Sunday to take him up on his offer.
How to Persuade Anyone of Anything in Ten Seconds
You’re on the most important elevator ride of your life. You have 10 seconds to pitch the classic “elevator pitch”.
Love or Hate. Money or Despair. And you may never get this chance again.
There are books about this. But don’t waste your time. They are all garbage.
I’ve been on both sides of this equation.
I’ve had people pitching me. But mostly, I’ve been scared and desperate and afraid to ask someone to give me, want me, love me, all in the space of an elevator ride or in the time it takes one to ride an elevator.
Perhaps the hardest thing for me was when I was doing my “3am” web series for HBO.
I had to walk up to random strangers at 3 am on the streets of New York and convince them within five seconds to spill their most intimate secrets to me rather than kill me.
Not quite an elevator pitch but the same basic idea. I had a lot of practice. I probably approached over 3,000 people cold.
In some cases people tried to kill me. In one case, I was chased. Other times people opened up their hearts and I am infinitely grateful to them.
The ideas below have worked for me the hundreds of times I’ve had to be persuasive. Either in writing, or in person. In business and in friendships and in love.
I hope variations of it can work for you. You decide.
A) Who are you?
People want to know they are talking to a good, honest, reliable person that they can trust and perhaps even like, or love.
They won’t love you by looking at your resume.
You have to do method acting. Imagine what your body would feel like if they already said “Yes” even before you open your mouth.
You would be standing up straight, smiling, palms open, ready to close the deal. You have to method act at the beginning of your pitch.
If you are slouched and your head is sticking out then your brain is not as well-connected to your nervous system and you won’t be in “flow”.
I can drag out the science here but this is an e-letter and not a peer-reviewed scientific paper.
The reality is: when you’re slouched over, not only are you not using the full potential of your brain, but you look untrustworthy.
Think about how you breathe when you are anxious and nervous.
I will tell you how I breathe: short, shallow breaths in my upper chest.
So do the reverse before a 10-second pitch.
Breathe deep and in your stomach. Even three deep breaths in the stomach (and when you exhale try to imagine your stomach almost hitting your back) has been shown to totally relax the mind and body.
People sense this. Again, this builds trust and relaxes you.
Now, even though you haven’t said a single word, you’ve probably done the two most important things for persuading someone.
C) Uhhh. Yeah. Uhhh. Mm-hm. Uh-huh
I have a hard time with this. It seems natural to say, “yup” or “right” or “uh-huh” or whatever.
But here are the facts (and, again, there have been studies on this): people perceive you as stupid when you do this.
Just keep quiet when someone is talking.
Then, when someone is done speaking, wait for two seconds before responding. They might not be done yet. And it gives you time to think of a response. If you are thinking of a response while they are talking, then you aren’t listening to them.
People unconsciously know when you are not listening to them. Then they say “No” to you.
A lot of people say you have to satisfy the desires of the other person in order for them to say “yes”.
As much as we would like to think otherwise, people primarily act out of self-interest.
The less they know you, the more they will act out of self-interest because to do otherwise could potentially put them in danger. We all know that kids shouldn’t take candy from strangers.
In an elevator pitch, the investor is the kid, what you are asking is the candy, and you are the stranger. So their gut reflex, unless you make the candy super-sweet, is to say “no”.
So make sure you make your candy sweeter by sprinkling in their desires.
And what are their desires?
If you can help them solve these URGENT problems or desires, then they are more likely to say “yes” to you.
I don’t know what you are selling, but hopefully it’s not to satisfy their desire for revenge. But if it is, don’t do anything violent.
The one time I had to sell romance on an elevator I had to do three things: tell her life would be OK, make sure I knew her address and last name, and send her a teddy bear and flowers the next day.
That’s for another story.
Everyone is going to have gut objections.
They’ve been approached 1000s of times before.
Do you know how many times I’ve been approached to have sex in an elevator?
But probably many others have and you have to put up with their non-stop objections.
I’ll provide solutions to these objections:
No time ― That’s OK. It’s on an elevator. So they have elevator-length time. The key here is to stand straight and act like someone who deserves to be listened to.
No interest ― You solve this by accurately expressing the urgency of the problem.
No perceived difference ― But you have your unique difference ready to go.
No belief ― Offer unquestionable proof that this works.
No decision ― Make their decision as user-friendly as possible.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Most people don’t have the power of persuasion. They mess up on each of the points I’ve outlined above. It takes practice and hard work.
But this is not just about persuasion. It’s about connection.
It’s about two people, who are probably strangers, reaching through physical and mental space and trying to understand each other and reach common ground.
It’s not about money. It’s not about the idea. It’s not about yes or no.
It’s about two people falling in love.