Five Minute Writing Tip: How to Write a Grabbing Elevator Pitch
Did you know that the term "elevator pitch" was attributed to Elisha Otis, the founder of Otis Elevator Company? Otis didn't invent the elevator, but he did construct a safety feature that resulted in a better elevator. To demonstrate and sell this feature, he invited people to the New York convention center. Rather than explaining how it worked, he showed them by taking the elevator up to the third floor and slashing the rope with an ax. The platform dropped a few inches, but the safety brake engaged, keeping the elevator from crushing to the bottom. He responded with, "All safe, gentlemen. All safe." This incident became known as the first elevator pitch because he said very little but conveyed a lot.
I just finished reading Daniel Pink's book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. One chapter is devoted to writing an elevator pitch, a device that found its way to Hollywood when writers pitched their movie ideas to executives when they were able to corner them in an elevator. Nowadays it's used to sell more than screenplays. It's used to sell ideas, information, and knowledge.
Pink goes on to describe six different elevator pitches: the one-word pitch, the question pitch, the rhyming pitch, the subject-line pitch, the Twitter pitch, and the Pixar pitch. Here are examples of each?
1. The one-word pitch for our book, Cape Horn: One Man's Dream, One Woman's Nightmare is, "Pitchpole."
2. The question pitch for our writing-tip book: "Tired of reading boring grammar books? Try Do You Have a Catharsis Handy: Five-Minute Writing Tips."
3. The rhyming pitch for our publishing company is, "Egress with Cave Art Press."
4. One of our subject-lines (taken from emails and e-newsletters) is, "Mike the Dog Talks Books."
5. The twitter pitch (less than 144 characters) for our book, Youth and War is, "Endurance and survival, compassion and brutality; ordinary people caught in the maelstrom of global conflict."
6. Here are two Pixar Pitches (a six-sentence formula pitch),
From our book, A Long Way from Brooklyn.
Once upon a time, there was a young homeless boy named John, who lived on the streets in Brooklyn. Every day, John tried to find food, shelter, and work, but every day things grew more difficult. One day in a desperate moment, John lied about his age to get a job with a new government program, the Civilian Conservation Corps. Because of that, he was sent across the country to a place where he knew no one, to a place he knew nothing about. John was assigned to help build the Deception Pass Bridge. His determination, hard work, and willingness to learn earned him the respect of his employers, and he eventually became a successful engineer whose wealth help establish several community programs in Anacortes, Washington.
From our new idea for a TV series called Insanity Press. See Cissy's pitch below..