Pitching a project to a potential investor or client is essential for any entrepreneur in Los Angeles. What is arguably the most important part of your pitch? How long it takes to deliver. And, just in case you were wondering, the art of the elevator pitch is still alive and well.
Almost all consumers make quick decisions and purchases. According to an Ehrenberg-Bass study, “the average consumer spends 13 seconds purchasing a brand in-store.” Purchases go a little slower online, but not much. The average digital purchase hovers around 19 seconds.
Whether you’re pitching a client or investor, the person to whom you pitch is your consumer. You want this person to invest/buy/partner/support whatever you are selling . . . and you usually have under 20 seconds to hook their attention. So, make it count.
As a former film producer in Los Angeles, I have heard my share of pitches and I’ve learned that the shorter pitches almost always make the best projects. If I can’t understand what your film is about in 30 seconds or less (I tend to be a little more patient than your average consumer), I am generally not interested in investing my time and/or money.
So, how do you shorten your pitch? There are two great ways to ensure that your pitch is heard, understood, and processed within the first 20 seconds. Once you have piqued the interest of your consumer, you will be able to share more details of your brilliant idea.
1. Utilize shared knowledge
I recently asked my "Los Angeles Boss Ladies" text group for television recommendations. I got the following exceptional pitches:
- Emily in Paris — It’s a modern story of Carrie Bradshaw, except in Paris
- Bridgerton — It’s a 19th-century Gossip Girl
Needless to say, I put both of these shows in my queue (don’t you dare judge my taste in television). These two suggestions were memorable because they called upon the knowledge that my friends assumed was already in my brain.
My friend that suggested Emily in Paris assumed that I understand the premise of the television show that chronicled Carrie Bradshaw's life. She could have said, “It’s a romantic mix of comedy and drama that follows the lives of a young single woman in their 20’s exploring love, career, and friendship. It also features some pretty awesome fashion and showcases Paris itself, making it a personified character in the show.” Instead, she just said, “It’s a modern story of Carrie Bradshaw, except in Paris.”
The same thing goes for the Bridgerton example. When we call on the shared knowledge of a society, we create a sort of shorthand that we can effectively use to pitch almost any idea.
Similarly, many aspiring actors these days have “pitch phrases” with which their agents will attempt to woo casting directors in Los Angeles. “He’s Tom Cruise meets Jack Black.” “She’s a Filipino Meg Ryan.” Both of these phrases use things we already know to introduce us to something we don’t. And, according to Science Daily, “People express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them.”
Whether you liken your product to a television show or a household item, if you can find a way to make it familiar to the recipient of your pitch in Los Angeles, you will start off on the right foot.
2. Simplify your idea
If you find yourself unable to describe your product or service in a concise way, you may need to simplify your concept. In most cases, the general public will need to understand what you’re selling, so if you can’t explain it in a pitch, you may need to go back to the drawing board to simplify.
We are all enamored with our fantastic ideas and want to share every detail of our brainchildren with everyone who will listen. There is a time and a place for this. And it’s not in a Los Angeles elevator. Or in a first pitch.
If you want help making your idea more concise, try describing it to a friend and having them explain it back to you. This will sift out the unnecessary details and help you hear which parts of your pitch are coming across most strongly.
“It’s the cleaning fluid and the paper towel already put together.” “It’s television for cats and dogs.” Whatever it is, it had better be clean and simple. Simply put, we humans don’t want to figure anything out that we don’t have to. If the person listening to your pitch even starts to furrow a brow, you’re toast.
Practically any idea can be whittled down to its most elemental level and that is the level at which you should present your pitch in Los Angeles. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.
The fact of the matter is that the world is only getting faster. People’s attention spans are being shortened every year and the faster you can get someone’s attention, the more likely you will be able to keep it. If you call upon shared knowledge and keep it simple and, you can shorten your pitches and increase your odds of success.