A Summary and Review of The NEW Elevator Pitch by Chris Westfall

This summary and review of the book, The NEW Elevator Pitch, was prepared by Joseph Madere, while an MBA student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.

Executive Summary

The NEW Elevator Pitch is written by Chris Westfall. The book is a guide to how to make your message heard in the digital age. Westfall explains that whether you tell it or tweet it, your message has to be strong, or it gets lost in the noise. In today’s technological world, the NEW Elevator Pitch is more than just the run of the mill two-minute speech, it’s a method of connecting that isn’t based on some outdated sales strategy. It is based on the story of YOU! The NEW Elevator Pitch teaches you how to uncover the important stuff, overcome your nerves and fears, and create an authentic connection with the people that matter the most.

Westfall introduces the NEW Elevator to his readers through the introduction. He points out that the NEW Elevator Pitch really is not a pitch at all, rather it is simply a method for starting important conversations. He wrote this book because he believes that everyone inside themselves has a story that matters. This book helps to get that story out. One of the main focuses of the book is to get the listener to say “tell me more” when you are done with you pitch. Westfall explains that the best elevator pitches have the following three characteristics: 1)authentic, 2) compelling, and 3) “tell me more.” Westfall goes from the introduction into seven chapters that spell out the word CLARITY, and each letter in the word is a step to achieving a successful elevator pitch.

The seven steps are as follows:

Captivate. You must grab the listener’s attention by captivating the audience. If a person fails to achieve this step, anything that follows will not matter.

Language. Language is a way to lay out your thoughts and ideas in a way that your audience can comprehend. The words spoken in an elevator pitch can set the tone for how the message is received.

Authentic. The most persuasive communicators are those that can inspire trust from their story. Being authentic is what inspires trust.

Relevance. The key to relevance is making what matters to you, matter to others.

Inspiration. Create a clear and compelling call to action for your audience. This will inspire them to do your will.

Tact. Saying the right thing at the right time is the key to delivering your message.

YES! If you want to be successful, you must prepare your NEW Elevator pitch for a YES!

Although it is rare that you can script your remarks, the NEW Elevator Pitch outlines a framework for your story, with the end result being your listener saying “tell me more.” Once your listener wants to know more, you know that you have made a breakthrough. Chris Westfall does a great job of explaining how to get to the end result we all desire.

The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from The NEW Elevator Pitch

1. If you want to grab the attention of your listener, you must get back to your core, authentic message. A brand isn’t only what your put on a cow. In business, a brand is a promise delivered. Understanding even your most basic message is the best way to drive change and make your pitch heard.

2. The NEW Elevator pitch is designed for difficult conversations. Turbulence is expected. Every elevator pitch is about creating change, and disrupting the status quo in some sort of way. People do not like change and resist it, even when it is good for them. That is why your message needs to be strong.

3. The three traits of a great elevator pitch are: authentic, compelling, and “tell me more.” Your message must be authentic. Your message must want to make people respond. Finally, at the end of your message, it needs to make people want to know more.

4. Captivate- In order to deliver your perfect pitch, you must recognize your audience. In your pitch, move quickly to the solution you can provide, or the outcome that you would like to discuss. Match your energy to that of the group, and don’t apologize for giving your pitch. These are steps to captivating the audience.

5. Language- You must be clear about your themes and your outcomes via the words that you chose to say. Use the language of leadership, you are the expert. Use questions to check in with your audience, and ALWAYS create dialogue with your NEW elevator pitch.

6. Authenticity- Authenticity delivers truth and develops trust from your audience. Everyone craves a real connection, and authenticity provides one. You must connect with your subject if you want your audience to do the same. And remember, to be heard, be authentic.

7. Relevance- To make your story relevant, start with why and move to because. You must make the request of your pitch reasonable and achievable. Avoid sending too much information, your real goal is to get the listener to say “tell me more,” not fall asleep.

8. Inspiration- Inspiration comes from positive change. The number one quality in business is creativity-the power to create new solutions in the face of adversity. You must be crystal clear on the action you want the listener to take, because actions speak louder than words. This will help move towards an inspiring future that you and your listener create together.

9. Tact- Fear can be a question of focus. Eliminate fear by staying focused. Focus on your listener. Focus on the task at hand. Focus on getting a YES! Tact means saying the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way. Don’t let fear stop your NEW elevator pitch.

10. YES!-Act as if you are going to get what you want. If you anticipate a “YES!” you will overcome the obstacles in your path. Connect with your material in a new and powerful way, and you may just find what you are looking for.

Full Summary of The NEW Elevator Pitch

Introduction: The NEW Elevator Pitch

“Think about the most important person in our life at the current moment,” says Westfall. Beyond friends and family there are important people that want to know more about you. Westfall states that communicating effectively with important people in your life can have some incredible results, if you know how to do it. Westfall

asks the reader about the importance of engaging the audience, whether it is board members, potential clients, or potential employers. He asks the reader if he or she would like to know how to engage and influence their most important person, and that is how the opening paragraphs begin.

Westfall states that in today’s day and age, we have many tools at our disposal to connect with people; more ways than ever before. Unfortunately, though, we are not making real connections says Westfall. What will be your story when it really matters?

The NEW Elevator pitch isn’t really a pitch at all, Westfall explains. It is a method for starting important conversations. When you get down to business, there needs to be a method for conveying your ideas, The New Elevator Pitch is just that. Whether you tell it or tweet it, the message needs to be strong, otherwise it gets lost in the noise(Westfall, 2012). Westfall explains that he wrote this book because he believes that each individual’s story matters, whether it is a social cause, a new product, or a creative new idea behind customer service. Over the course of Westfall’s career, he has had the opportunity to work with executives and students alike. They all have one thing in common; they all share a powerful desire to create real connections. Creating those real connections begins with a powerful conversation, called the NEW elevator pitch. It is rare where you can script your remarks. This book gives you a framework for your story, a story in which the listener says, “tell me more.” Westfall goes on to say that you will hear the three words “tell me more” a lot in his book. “Tell me more” is how you know if your message has been clearly and concisely communicated. The listener should want to know more about your message, and this feedback is how you will know that.

The New Elevator Pitch will be concise, compelling and insightful, rather than gimmicky and schmoozing (Westfall, 2012). Using a 118 second benchmark from Jeffrey Hayzlett, your NEW elevator pitch will be influential, and your message will be delivered. Why just “give a speech” when you can deliver a message? Breakthroughs happen when you are ready to make what matters, matter! The best elevator pitches will have the following three characteristics: authentic, compelling, and “tell me more.” The upcoming chapters will focus on how to achieve that goal.

Part I-The Seven Steps to CLARITY

Step 1: Captivate

The number one issue that keeps people from delivering a strong message is a strong opening. You have to grab the listener’s attention by captivating you audience, or anything that follows will not matter. This first step, “captivate,” is what the NEW elevator pitch lives and dies on. The introduction should grab someone’s attention, all going towards the end result of “tell me more.”

The first thing that helps with captivating your listener is first understanding who your listener will be. The best openers start with recognition of the person that is right in front of your face.  Everyone these days seems to be running a mental software program that ultimately asks “what’s in it for me?” So the first thing that you need for the elevator pitch is to know who the audience is and what they are about. Here are the three secrets to captivating the audience:

1. Who is your audience? Take the audience in, and acknowledge what is going on around you.

2. What do you think your audience is thinking right now? What is their number one concern?

3. Create an opening that represents who you are in a way that is unexpected or disarming. Don’t be afraid to be unpredictable (just don’t overdo it with gimmicks).

Always remember that your audience is your subject. Recognition is the first step of captivating your audience. Once you recognize your audience, you can really connect with them. This does not have to be an elaborate process. You can easily remember someone’s mood or how they seemed to be doing. Each one of us has the emotional intelligence to recognize our surroundings before giving an elevator pitch. Recognizing the “who” means evaluating the interests, moods and concerns of your audience.

Typically awareness is missing from the opening statement. During the opening of your pitch, connect with your audience on the current state of affairs or current status of the listener. If you can acknowledge what is going on, you can establish candor and honesty with your listener.

Framing the conversation can help set the stage for your listener. You can use phrases such as:

Have you noticed…?

You know how…?

Doesn’t it seem like…?

These small little frame words can set up your topic, especially when you are in situations such as speed networking, dealing with people from different backgrounds, or having to have a frame of reference because the audience is unfamiliar with the topic.

Most of us have a comfort zone for our presentation style. But often to be heard, our pitch must adapt. If you are at a cocktail party versus an office setting, wouldn’t your delivery be different? This is where adaptability and reading the audience come hand in hand. Cater your pitch to the feel of the audience and the moment if you want to get your point across. For example, if you are dealing with a crowd that is laughing, you know that your point will need to be high energy if you want to get your point across. Otherwise you could be seen as a “Debbie Downer.”

In creating the opening, come from a place that says, I recognize you and I recognize your concerns. Be careful not to come on too strong though. “I have all the answers” can be a bold statement. Westfall states that even if you have all the answers and are ready to “kick down the door,” please knock first. You want the captivate the audience, not intimidate them. If they think that you have all the answers, they wonder why you need them. Remember, captivate your audience, but keep it brief. 8 seconds is all you have!

Step 2: Language

Now that you have captivated your audience, it is time to lay out your thoughts and ideas in a way that your audience can comprehend. Language is a key to explaining your themes and ideas. The words that you choose to speak can set the tone for how your message is delivered and how the audience receives the message (Westfall, 2012). If you can use the proper language, you can lead your listener to see a different outcome then they might originally have.

You do not want to spend your elevator pitch explaining your opening remarks. Keep your messages clear and do not mix your metaphors. For instance, saying you are the “Joe Montana of sales” is a mixed metaphor. He was a football player who is now retired. Does that mean that you were once great at sales but are now retired? Opening with a metaphor can be a great attention grabber, but just make sure your frame of reference is clear.

Picking your language is important. What is it that you want people to understand? Understanding can take many forms, from listening, to emotional connection, to understanding that leads to agreement. Your language choice must ultimately get your listener to say “tell me more.”

Leadership plays an important part of language. When you are presenting to a group, whether you like it or not, you are an expert on the subject. You know more than your audience, and this puts you in a position of leadership. How you express your vision is the language of leadership. You must lead with language, and provide the words that others can follow. Whether your pitch is about cutting the budget, requesting more spending in a certain area, or suggesting a diagnosis, you are the expert, so choose your language in a way that tells your story and gets the listener to say “tell me more”. You must change your language from boring to scoring (Westfall, 2012). For instance, instead of talking about features and benefits, tell them about the clear opportunities for themselves! Instead of telling them about the numbers, tell them about the impact of the numbers!

The objective of your pitch is to get the listener to want to know more, but don’t force the issue. Lead people to the right conclusion, but don’t force it down their throats. Your pitch is a persuasive conversation, not a blurt-fest. Begin with the end in mind, but do not blast the audience with the endgame and wait for agreement. This means you must earn the right to advance. You must know that a pitch is not necessarily a monologue. If you are not interacting with the listener and building trust, then you will not merit the right to advance and to keep telling your story. Remember, the NEW elevator pitch is a dialogue with your audience.

Body language is a very important part of your pitch. Your body language needs to exemplify the story you are currently telling, and be free from other messages. Align your gestures with your language. To understand whether your language and body language are connecting, you can record yourself on video. This will give you a clear picture of what  you are doing, or what you need to do to have these two areas align.

Step 3: Authenticity

Facts, numbers, opinions, ideas… none of these will matter without trust. On an instinctive level, the first thing that someone will think is “Can I trust this person?” The most persuasive communicators are those that inspire trust from their story. It is the authenticity that leads their listeners to action. When people take action, it is because they trust you.

Authenticity builds trust. Authenticity is about telling the truth, but in a way that makes others want to say “tell me more.” If you want to tell your message with conviction, you must incorporate energy into the message you plan to deliver. Being authentic is a commitment. Commitment to material + commitment to your audience = your power of persuasion.

Social media today gives us a basic need to connect, but your pitch has to go much further than that. A face-to-face connection has way more authenticity than an online connection if you know how to do it right. To present your authentic self, you must touch on certain things. You need to choose what matters most if you want to make it matter to others. Distinguish yourself by committing to excellence. Find statements that convey your belief. By putting that passion into your pitch, you can have conviction. And finally create a reputation that makes you seem authentic, and choose statements that help you position yourself  for the opportunity at hand.

Step 4: Relevance

The key to relevance is making what matters to you, matter to others. By making your story relevant, your are driving meaningful change. In today’s world, we have information at our fingertips. We can use Google to look up almost anything, but that does not mean the information is relevant to us. It is important that you convey the relevance to your audience on the information that you deliver. Relevant information explains to your audience why you, why now, and why this. What really matters is why.

    A perfect example of this was a study done by a Harvard researcher Ellen Langer. She went from library to library asking to cut the line and make some copies. The first time around she asked “Excuse me, can I use the copy machine? I have to make five copies.” Her success rate was 60%. The next time around, she said, “Excuse me, may I use the copy machine? I have to make 5 copies because I am in a hurry.” The percentages shot up to 94%! The reasoning is that Langer added language that made her pitch relevant. People could relate to it, and that is why they let her skip the line. Her message also mattered to them.

    If you want to try a similar technique to Langer, just remember to keep realistic expectations. Because is an important word because it emphasizes relevance. But, your because has to be authentic and your listener has to make that authentic connection. For example, if Langer asked to skip the line and make 100 copies, she would have most likely got a no. That is an unrealistic expectation. You also do not want to give your listener too much information. This causes overload and does not create relevance for your pitch. One way to prevent over-talking is to focus on what you want your listener to do once you finish.

Step 5: Inspiration

    Westfall defines inspiration as the process of mentally being stimulated to do or feel something, especially something creative. If you ask 100 people what inspires them, you may get 100 different answers (Westfall, 2012). Westfall explains that inspiration comes from positive change. If you expect to create inspiration for your listener, you must challenge the status quo by challenging the current situation for the better.

    Actions trump salesmanship in your elevator pitch (Westfall, 2012). After you have captivated your audience, you must show them what you are going to do. Your audience wants to know what is next, or “what are we going to do together?” This all goes back to your language. By choosing the right language, you can inspires your listener to positive action.

    Inspiration is different to everyone, it is a shapeless concept. You cannot possibly know what inspires everyone, but you can know what it is that you want to create. This world that you want to create is the source of inspiration., which creates action. Create a clear and compelling call to action for your audience (Westfall, 2012).

Step 6: Tact

    Isaac Newton once said, “tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” Saying the right thing at the right time is what tact is all about, and the key to delivering your message to your listener. In order to do this, you must understand your audience. You must consider what your audience will respond to in the beginning, and also at the end. The timing of your key theme is equally important. Westfall explains that there is no such thing as a bad question, but there is a such thing as bad timing.

    If you consider one simple question, “Will you marry me?” This question, as we all know, can change your life. But if you say it one week into dating, you most likely would not get the response that you are aiming for. Just like in your elevator pitch, timing is crucial.

    Westfall states that if you want to be tactful, you must be confident. Talking with a large group or an important person is enough to make anyone jittery, and if the subject actually matters to you (which it should), your blood will be flowing. If our actions are out of sync with the demands of the moment, our message will not be delivered. It is important to pull back the nerves and be confident. Westfall explains that you can overcome your fears by focusing on the listener. That will move focus away from you and point you towards what is important, delivering your pitch.

    It is important to go over your pitch before you deliver it. Make your pitch stronger by strengthening the “because” and the “why”. Consider what would happen if you did not persuade your listener. If you can focus on success, you can think of the logical steps that you need to get you there. This will help deliver tact in your message, and get your listener to say, “tell me more.”

Step 7: YES!

    As we all know, preparation will be the key to making the persuasive argument. One thing you haven’t prepared for is YES! You have to also prepare for success. You must realize that the pitch does not end when you get a yes, it is actually when the real work begins.

    Westfall says you must define your success by asking yourself these three questions: Am I closer to what I want? Have I proven that what I want is best for all of us? What is the next logical step? Westfall states that you have to identify your “YES” and prepare to win.

    Westfall adds that so many times, we focus on the negative, which is not realistically fair. You owe it to yourself to consider success and failure with an equal measure. If you have thoughts about a pending disaster, balance it out with what you are going to do if you get a yes. If you prepare for what you want, you may just find it. Although it is okay to consider failure, that is the only thing you should do, consider it. If you “act” as if success is the only path, you will “act” as if you can’t lose! Westfall believes that ordinary people become extraordinary because of what they believe to be true. Taking action on those beliefs is what delivers outstanding results (Westfall, 2012).

Part II and Part III

    Part II of the book is a three-page guide to telling your pitch in 60 seconds. Here is how:

-Step 1:10 seconds: Frame the conversation

-Step 2: 10-15 seconds: Connect to your point using a key unexpected twist.

-Step 3: 20 seconds: What is your key theme or message? What can you do with, through, and for others?

-Step 4: 10 seconds: Consider how your solutions will affect your customer’s customer, or any other party who isn’t in the room right now.

-Step 5: 10 seconds: Close with an invitation, invite your listener to take action, or participate in a solution in some way.

Finally, you need to be prepared once again for your listener to say, “tell me more.”

    Part III is where Westfall lists out different scenarios. Each scenario includes at least one exercise to help the reader tailor their pitch, all to be done in two minutes or less. He gives you the scenario, but it is up to you to take control and make the pitch your own. The scenarios included are:

-Why Hire Me?-Get a job!

-How to Pitch a TV Show

-How to Pitch to Angel Investors

-The Informal Networking Pitch

-Asking for a Raise

Westfall points out that even if none of these scenarios are what you are looking for, check them out anyway. They will benefit you in giving you an idea of how to tailor YOUR perfect pitch!

The Video Lounge




Chris Westfall talks about how the book will help its readers. He states that The NEW Elevator pitch is the story of YOU! He wants you to read the book so that you understand your story, so that you will be able to communicate it clearly and concisely. The challenge of our times is to be heard among the millions of messages that bombard us today.  Finally, Westfall states that this book gives a strategy to deliver your own personal message, as a 7-step process to building your pitch.

Personal Insights

Why I think:

  • The author is one of the most brilliant people around…or is full of $%&#, because:

Chris Westfall is a very intelligent man. In the faced paced business world today, you will need to touch on almost all of his points if you want your pitch to be heard. If you cannot get your message across, it will be lost in the noise. Most people want to know “what’s in it for me,” and Westfall delivers on how to give the audience that message.

  • If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:

1.    If I was the author of the book I would have tied in more examples for each step. The author would tell you each and every step to take, but often he lacked the examples needed to show you exactly how to take that step yourself. Although his steps looked great on paper, they would have been better with clear examples every step of the way.

2.    The author could have made his paper flow a bit better. In each chapter, he broke down each step, and then broke down those steps into subtitles. Often though, his wording under the subtitle had little to say about the subtitle. It made me wonder why he chose that as a point of emphasis if he did not emphasize it. Take the fluff out and get to the point, much like the goal of the elevator pitch you are talking about.

3.    Westfall did a great job of explaining the first few chapters. But I feel like he was off the mark with the last three steps. It seemed the deeper the book got, there was some filler in there and he was just reverberating the same thing over and over again, but in a new disguised way. The chapters towards the end seemed to culminate too much together, rather than strictly focusing on the step at hand. If I were Westfall, I would have made the chapters stick to the script, even if it meant a shorter chapter. Sometimes short is good.

Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:

1.    This book made me think about the topic of authenticity in a different way. Once Westfall explained why authenticity builds trust and sells your idea, it all made sense. I immediately thought about my experiences at car dealerships, where the salesman is not authentic, and I do not even want to listen to what he has to say. This book has made me realize that being authentic is one of the most important ways to sell your pitch.

2.    One of the biggest realizations that this book made me think differently about was how much I use a pitch that is 2 minutes or less in my life already. I am constantly using an elevator pitch, whether it is with boss, other contractors, or even my girlfriend. This book has made me think differently on how to approach my shorter conversations so that I can reach my desired outcome.

3.    This book made me think about getting a “YES!” in a different way. Before reading this book, I never thought about what would happen after I got a YES! I was simply just hoping for one. Westfall explains this is when the real work begins, and it is important to have a plan to action behind your pitch. This makes a lot of sense in the business industry, because if your ideas do not have an action plan, they will never actually be put into action.

  • I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:

1.    As a project manager, I will use the seven steps to build pitches that are designed to persuade my customers to let me run my operations in such as way that it would benefit our company. Often times as a subcontractor, our company forced to do things the way the general contractor wants them done. This can hurt the bottom line for our company. If I can communicate my point to the general contractor effectively, I can run projects in the best way that would benefit my company and save my company money in the long run.

2.    I will use this book as a guide the next time that I ask for a raise. Often times, asking for a raise can be hard. If I can use this book as a template, I can come off as genuine and authentic in my requests for a raise. By using the template in Part III of this book, I think that I can greatly increase my chances for success.

3.    I will use the advice in this book to be heard. As technology increases, people are getting more and more distracted. Having a solid plan in place when it comes time to share my ideas can get me the “tell me more” that I will be seeking. If I can get my listeners to want to know more, I can ensure that my message is received.

  • Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:

    Early reviewers of the book had some great things to say about the book. Dean Lindsay said that a journey of a thousand miles doesn’t start with a single step, it starts with a single story (The NEW Elevator Pitch by Chris Westfall, 2012). Lindsay stated that you have to get clear on your message, and to watch where your journey takes you. He highly recommends the NEW Elevator Pitch.

    Dan Newman (”The NEW Elevator Pitch | Advance Praise – The NEW Elevator Pitch”, 2012) the Millennial CEO, said, “Few people can inspire the way Chris Westfall can.” Douglas Pond  (”The NEW Elevator Pitch | Advance Praise – The NEW Elevator Pitch”, 2012) explained that “Chris has a gift for defining what people need to hear.” These reviewers all had the same types of statements to say about Chris Westfall; that he was a great communicator, and his message is one that everyone in business who wants to communicate better needs to hear.

    “It took less than 5 minutes of talking with Chris Westfall before I noticed something that’s become a bit unusual in today’s multitasking, constantly connected world-I felt like the most important person in the room,” said Kenna Griffin (Griffin, 2013). Griffin goes on to explains about Westfall’s uncanny ability to connect before she even starts to talk about his book. Griffin states that while she picked up the book to better her original elevator pitch, she learned that the NEW Elevator pitch is much more than the traditional elevator pitch because it is a outline and workbook for better persuasive communication skills, which we can all use.

Bibliography

Chris Westfall | National Elevator Pitch Champion. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://moveupormoveout.com/wordpress/

Griffin, K. (2013, March 7). Book Review: The NEW Elevator Pitch #100Books. Retrieved from http://www.profkrg.com/book-review-the-new-elevator-pitch-100books

The NEW Elevator Pitch by Chris Westfall. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.thenewelevatorpitch.com/

The NEW Elevator Pitch | Advance Praise – The NEW Elevator Pitch. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.thenewelevatorpitch.com/about/advance-praise/

Westfall, C. (2012). The NEW Elevator Pitch: The Definitive Guide to Persuasive Communication in the Digital Age. Dallas, TX: Marie Street Press.

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Contact Info

To contact the author of this article, “A Summary and Review of The NEW Elevator Pitch by Chris Westfall,” please email joseph.madere@selu.edu.

About the Publisher

David C. Wyld (dwyld@selu.edu) is the Laborde Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.org), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. His blog, Career News 24/7, can be viewed at http://wyld-about-careers.blogspot.com/.

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