Why a personal hook in your elevator pitch is so precious

Letter from Canada

Why a personal hook in your elevator pitch is so precious

Look into your own background to find a hook that makes you unique

We covered a lot of ground about the content of elevator pitches in my Canadian workshops.

I shared some of that in this article here about using the SO WHAT? test.

Another very simple but useful tool we discussed was how to handle your elevator pitch when you know there are direct competitors of yours in the room.

How do you make your own pitch stand out from theirs? What you need, is a hook…

Give your elevator pitch some extra personality

Some people at business networking events are very lucky and can create a truly memorable impression in the first few words.

Once such person, my good friend and client Dave Thorne of Demux Video Services, who grabs the entire room’s attention when he announces himself as “a professional voyeur.”

It doesn’t take long for him to explain that, as an ex Police surveillance expert, he now offers a very sophisticated level of CCTV and other video and audio evidence analysis for Police forces, law firms and other professionals…

Another man I met once – a big fellow dressed in very colourful clothes, got up from the table at a business breakfast networking meeting, stood very still, then barked out, “Bacardi!” … “Scotch!” … “Bourbon!” to the astonished audience who were chewing their peameal bacon and fried eggs.

“And that’s because,” he growled,”right now it’s my turn to call the shots.”

There were several bewildered faces around the tables, especially as at 07:30 hrs most folks aren’t really thinking about alcoholic “shots,” and didn’t get the joke.

However he certainly got our attention although we couldn’t quite see the connection between all that shot-barking and his landscape architecture business.

What about a personal hook for your elevator pitch?

Dave the pro voyeur is very lucky to have that lovely USP, and the landscape man must have b*lls of steel to dare do that at breakfast meetings, but the rest of us need to look into this a bit more carefully.

At the workshop I asked everyone to think about a personal hook they could use for themselves. To begin with there weren’t many answers forthcoming, but when I asked everyone to dig back into their own personal histories and think about it carefully, we uncovered some very interesting and unique pieces of information.

Where to look for your elevator pitch’s personal hook

Here is a list of areas in most people’s backgrounds in which you may well find a personal hook to use to differentiate you from your competitors…

**Why you went into this business – after years in corporate life, perhaps, wanting to share that experience and skill set with smaller businesses?

**Was this a dream you had always had?

**Has this business been based on a hobby you’ve had for many years?

**Is your business a family tradition that has been going for many years?

**Have you an interesting or incongruous combination of qualifications/skills that make your approach to the business unique?

**Is this business the result of a personal need you had for that exact service, which was not fulfilled or you and which you now do much better than anyone else?

**Is your business the result of wanting to “give something back” in, say, healthcare or complementary therapies?

And so-on.

Make sure your personal hook emphasises something positive

At the risk of being flippant, I could say that you don’t want to point out that you’re in this business because you were fired from your last job and didn’t know what else to do to earn a crust!

There are ways of focusing on the positive side even if it started out as a negative, of course.

An elevator pitch about how he got ditched

A cousin of mine was HR director of a large company and felt horribly depressed after having, on the Board’s instructions, made more than 400 employees redundant.

When he then told the CEO that the dreaded deeds were done he was rewarded with a redundancy notice of his own, because with so few staff remaining a full time HR director wasn’t needed any more.

That led to my cousin starting his own HR firm specialising in delivering HR services for companies that didn’t need a full time HR director – a company he ran successfully for many years.

The jewel in the crown of the elevator pitch

Another cousin of mine who attended the workshop has recently been made redundant after 26 years of working in high-level sales for a major electronics corporate. Unbeknown to them she has been studying gemology as a hobby for as many years and recently qualified as a diamond jewelry appraiser with the Gemological Institute of America.

So she has now started her own jewelry business in Toronto and is happier than she has been in years. The story has unfortunate roots – her redundancy – but is positive because it underlines her dedication and personal love of the business she now runs.

Make your elevator pitch funny

In my own case, I use humor to stress the fact that I have been writing professionally for a long time and have extensive experience of writing for just about every medium there is, both analog and digital.

Those of you who have heard me speak may remember how I say I’ve been writing professionally since somewhere around the Ming Dynasty and I have written for just about every medium there is apart from tablets of stone – and that’s only because I’m useless with a hammer and chisel.

It always gets a laugh, and it makes a point. And because it’s satirical it shows – I hope! – that I’m not just another old has-been whose writing style hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

What personal hook can you use to make your elevator pitch memorable?

Please share!





  1. […] Why a personal hook in your elevator pitch is so precious In the workshops I delivered in Toronto we covered some interesting topics and some even more interesting concepts and ideas emerged from those. Getting up and speaking your precious elevator/60 second pitch is hard enough, and is even more challenging when there are others in the room who do what you do. This article helps you create a differential that’s tough to argue with. […]