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Perfect your 15-second "elevator" pitch

(MoneyWatch) Can you sell your company, your product, your service or your proposed project in no more than 30 seconds? If it takes you five minutes to explain what you're about, you risk losing your audience and muddying the message.

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That's why you might want to check out the 15-second pitch strategy advocated by Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo. His article -- and the excellent video clip -- briefly shows how to craft an "elevator" pitch that you can deliver in a mere 15 seconds. If you have a little more time, or need more details, he also shows how to blow that out to a still-trim 30 seconds.

Gallo explains how to tell a simple, clear and concise story by building a message map. Start by crafting what he calls a "Twitter-friendly headline" -- what you want your audience to know, told short and sweet in a way that will fit in Twitter's 140-character format. 

From there, expand on the Twitter headline by adding three supporting key benefits. They should be critical to your message and very short. They're not stories, they're just bullet points. If you did it right, you now have a narrative you can tell in 15 seconds.

If you have more time, you can further expand your story by reinforcing each of the three benefits with statistics or examples. Watch the 5-minute video to see how to do this yourself.

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