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Forget the Elevator Pitch -- Just Hand Over Your iPhone

Most elevator pitches are conceived to get your main points across in a casual setting in a matter of seconds, and therein lies the problem. EP's are usually one-way, not-very-engaging bullet points for your listener to consume. What you really want to do is rouse that person's curiosity and invite them into an intelligent conversation.

Can the EP be improved?

Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT, thinks he has seen the future. Schrage writes about watching a number of entrepreneurs at recent technology conferences talking up their projects by pulling out smart phones loaded with animations, videos, testimonials, charts and graphs, all wrapped together with an engaging, interactive interface.

Listen to Schrage as he describes being on the receiving end of a pitch-on-an-iPhone.

"Unprompted by me, Osman whipped out his smartphone and handed it over. I was watching a decent video clip illustrating his product's features and functionality. I could tap to hear testimonials. I could tap to play with a simulation of the software. In a matter of moments, the device had transformed Osman from an entrepreneur I was having a conversation with to a guide and narrator of an interactive experience. My focus and attention alternated between what he said and what appeared onscreen. Sometimes he'd take, touch, and hand back the device; other times, I'd point to something onscreen and ask another question."
In other words, the "presentation" was really an immersive experience complete with eye contact, interruptions for questions, and some intimacy (handing the phone back and forth). "The 'hand-it-over' nature of the iPhone made it feel more like a value-added conversation than a scaled-down presentation," Schrage says.

What makes for a winning hand-it-over encounter?

  • Soft Sell. The material on the phone is not a product pitch. Instead, the presenter uses the device to reinforce conversation points and invite questions and comments.
  • Highlight. Use the phone content to illustrate a point. Animations and videos can be effective ways to demonstrate in just a few short seconds the way a product would work and how a customer would use it.
  • Sendable. Make sure your content can be e-mailed or otherwise sent to where the recipient wishes.
I think Schrage is on to something. Smart phones, especially touch-screen models, are designed to be interactive and engaging, so they are the perfect platform for this sort of thing. And pulling out a smart phone in the middle of a conversation to illustrate a point or answer a question seems a natural extension of the conversation; powering up a laptop in the same situation seems forced.

Read his post, How Your Smart Phone Will Transform Your Elevator Pitch.

Do you see possibilities in using your cellie as a pitch partner? What are the limitations?

(Image by Ed Yourdon, CC 2.0)

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