What do Exercise, Movie Watching and Elevator Pitches have in Common?

stranger_than_fiction_xlgEverybody could use a good elevator pitch. You know, a succinct sales call, idea or story delivered in the time it takes an elevator to go from ground level to floor #14. (skipping floor #13), or vice versa. In this tweet-happy age, nobody has time to hear you drone on and on about some topic. No matter how interesting you may be, time is of the essence. When engaged thusly, I often think , and sometimes blurt out “Just get to the point, would you” at someone who is tediously explaining something to me. I am working on patience, but it is not so easy.

So here’s some advice on how to not be one of these “droners”, and have to listen to people like me tell you to get on with it.

Think big, don’t just recite facts. Consider your pitch as a story. You have character(s), a plot, conflict, resolution, and key learnings. Edit your story and eliminate all uneccessary details.  Remember your audience has been weaned on the Internet and possess gnat-like attention spans.

To that end, I have found an effective practice technique that helps me explain things in elevator pitch fashion.  Several times a week I go hiking in the woods with friends and their dogs. While we ( friends not dogs) discuss many topics, we often review movies for each other. What I do, and what you should try to do is  see if you can summarize the plot of a two-hour movie into a one-minute critique. Try not to get distracted by the music, cinematography, directing, acting, or whether or not you give it two thumbs up or hate it.  Just focus on the story.  Practice this often and you will find it easier to explain other things in shorthand.

So here’s my elevator pitch of the movie “Stranger than Fiction” which I recently watched”

“Will Ferrell plays this nebbish kind of guy, who is an IRS agent and leads a boring life. One day he starts hearing a woman’s voice in his head, but he’s not going crazy. It’s Emma Thompson and she is actually narrating his life in real time. It turns out she is writing a novel, and he is the main character. Unfortunately, for him she is a crime/mystery writer, and her main character always end up dying in the end. When he finds this out, he takes control, tracks her down, and attempts to derail the inevitable ending of her book (and his life). Along the way he discovers happiness.”

I can’t tell you how it ends.

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