The Rock Star Escalator / Elevator Pitch

You step onto an escalator, the woman in front of you turns around and says “I’m Helen Ragu. Don’t I know you?”
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 Obviously she’s mistaken you for someone else,  but you recognize her from the cover of this month’s “Money Bucks Magazine”.  So, there you are…  Standing in front of the spaghetti sauce heiress turned VC.
You’ve got around 40 seconds before the escalator ride is over… Start the pitch-clock.

You assess the situation. She’s in the Alpha position in two ways; #1- She’s above you, and she’s looking down at you.  That gives her the feeling she’s dominant.  She’s probably used to that since she’s an heiress and she’s got some heat on her from the magazine cover this month.

#2- She’s a VC and in about 3 seconds she’s gonna realize she’s made a mistake and she doesn’t know you.  She’s also gonna realize you’re another entrepreneur with a startup who recognizes her.  Then she’s really gonna feel dominant because every day she talks to new entrepreneurs just like you who are searching for investors.  That’s good, she’s a pro and will handle it appropriately because she loves being a VC.

Now you’ll need to introduce yourself and give her all the pertinent information about your idea in hopes she’ll like it and want to meet soon for the full pitch.

Your information must be arranged in one smoothly delivered package that isn’t rushed.  You can’t look nervous, you’ve got to look and sound like you can be the CEO of a big company.

And once you start, it’s got to be non-stop until you’re finished.  You’ve got about 36 seconds left.

You put on your best, practiced, “Duchenne Smile“, you take your hand off the rail and stand up straight, and look her right in the eye.  You made sure you weren’t leaning your head back too far like you’re trying to look down your nose at her even though she’s above you.  (Some people do that and aren’t trying to dominate, it’s just the way they do sometimes.  But the person they’re talking to may see it differently.)  You reach your hand out and shake hers… Annnnnd… You’re off!!!

 “Hi Ms Ragu.  I read the write up on you this morning in “Money Bucks Magazine”  It’s probably my favorite magazine because I’m an entrepreneur with a startup called ‘Mustache Mouse’ and we…”  That should have taken right at 7 seconds.

 As you get close to the end of the escalator ride, she will begin to angle her body toward the top since this thing isn’t going to stop.  That’s fine.  Her eyebrows will be up and pointed just a little bit inward to show you she’s listening.

If by chance you’ve captivated her and she has no idea how close the end is, then pause ever so slightly, put your hand back on the rail and lift one foot up like you’re preparing to walk up one step.  She’ll see what’s happening and adjust.  The last thing you want is for her to miss the top and be embarrassed by performing an impromptu, music-free, balance dance in front of you.

As your escalator pitch comes to an end, hand her your card, look her right in the eye, smile, and say, “Again, I’m ____ ______, It was really great meeting you and I’d love to tell you more about what we’re doing.”

If she really likes you and your idea, she’ll want to meet and hear the full pitch.  However, she may say something like, “That sounds great, right now I’m only investing in healthcare companies.”  Don’t let that throw you for a loop.  She’s being honest or she may not find it interesting.  Either way, you’ve gained experience in pitching and talking to a famous VC.  Now go tell your team all about it and see if their elevator pitches are as tight as yours.  Every team member needs to learn your short pitch, because you never know who they may step onto an escalator with.