It took less than five minutes 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.
Needless to say, I already was impressed with Chris’s ability to communicate when I read his latest book, The NEW Elevator Pitch.
I could tell, even before our initial meeting, that I could learn a lot from him about how to quickly and effectively connect with others.
I later learned the feeling I got during our first meeting was quite intentional. Chris wrote:
“The best elevator pitch you (or anyone else) can possibly deliver will focus on the most important person in the room (your listener).”
It seems that Chris practices what he preaches, and I certainly noticed.
Chris’s book is full of helpful advice for those desiring professional connections through persuasive communication.
There are three traits of good elevator speeches, according to the author. They are:
1. Authentic – spoken in a way that registers as true, honest and sincere. ”Engagement is not a ‘pitch’—it’s influence. Engagement is a connection” (p. 6)
2. Compelling – they make people want to respond
3. They make the listener want to know more. ”The best communication is judged not by what you say, but by what your listener does when you are done” (p. 3).
Beyond those characteristics, the NEW Elevator Pitch can be broken into seven steps (each represented by a chapter in the book) described by the acronym C.L.A.R.I.T.Y. It stands for:
Step 1 – Captivate – Chris tells you how to attract the attention of your audience in the most effective way, depending on your purpose and surroundings. He also writes about some of the most common mistakes people make during the first few minutes of meeting someone new (many of which I’m embarrassed to say I made when I met Chris).
Step 2 – Language – Chris explains how “the words you choose will define who you are and how your message is received” (p. 48).
Step 3 – Authenticity – Chris gives tips on how to quickly and effectively inspire trust from your audience.
Step 4 – Relevance – Chris tells you how to convince your audience “why me, why this and why now” (p. 78).
Step 5 – Inspiration – Chris provides advice on how to motivate positive change that helps make your message inspirational to others.
Step 6 – Tactfulness – The last thing you want (and probably my greatest fear) is that your communication will come across as an abrasive, undesirable sales pitch. Chris explains how to “make the other persons’ situation more important than your own” (p. 107)
Step 7 – Yes – One of the things I love about this last step is Chris’s insistence that you go into the communication with the idea that you will receive a positive response (a “yes“). However, the author also expresses several times in the book that you may not always get the exact thing you desire from your pitch. Instead, you must train yourself to extract information from situations that helps you understand why if you don’t receive the desired response. In other words, anything less than a yes helps you learn and revise so you can get a yes in the future.
Aside from being broken into steps, the “highlight reels” (summaries) at the end of each chapter and the jokes sprinkled throughout the text give the reader some insight into Chris’s personality.
The book also is full of real-world examples from Chris’s experiences and those of his clients and friends.
Finally, I loved the final chapters, which walk the reader through different types of common (job) and not-so-common (TV sitcom) pitches.
I was interested in Chris’s book because I like him as a person and because I wanted to better my own traditional elevator pitch. However, the NEW Elevator Pitch, while applicable to the traditional concept, is much more. It’s actually an outline and workbook for better persuasive communication skills, which is information we all can use.