The ultimate idea fine-tuner

March 11, 2013

In business, the elevator pitch is meant to get a listener’s attention in 30 seconds or less. For our purposes — getting unstuck as a Fuzzy Forecaster — we use some of the pitch principles to sharpen an idea to a fine point.

Think about 3 key messages
• What makes your idea different from similar ideas?

• What is the primary benefit of your idea?

• What do you want from the listener? Is it to gain understanding of your idea? Do you want the listener to help you in some way?

Consider these pointers
• Imagine your listener knows nothing about you. What do you need to convey about yourself?

• Speak in plain language, which means no jargon or highfalutin words. How can you clearly describe your idea so that it paints a picture in the listener’s mind?

• When you first start writing, put the 30-second time constraint aside. Get all your ideas down, then go back and highlight the best points, letting go of the details that can easily be discussed later.

• One way to make a complicated idea sound simple is to use the Hollywood formula of mashing up two items or subtracting from an item. “Star Wars” meets “Sleepless in Seattle.” San Francisco without the hills.

• Step away from your first try for a few hours or a day, and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Read it and revise. Read it out loud and revise. Read it to someone else and revise. Repeat as necessary.

Try this format
One of our favorite elevator pitch approaches comes from Richard Fouts. His three simple questions really get to the heart of an idea:

1. What’s the conflict?

2. What’s the impact of the conflict?

3. What’s your resolution?

If you just can’t whittle down your words to 30 seconds, you may need to develop your concept some more. Try “5 steps to get crisp about that idea floating in your head,” then give your pitch another go.

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