Open call for the Hot Seat: The Elevator Pitch
As we closed out the year, we discussed several ideas for Hot Seat critiques for 2012, and among the popular topics (another “Hitch it / Ditch It”, banner advertising, and composition), it seemed as if there was a lot of steam behind the idea of an elevator-pitch critique.
So, here’s the format. If you’d like to participate, comment below with:
- Your name
- Elevator Pitch
We’ll be discussing whether your elevator pitch:
- Describes your comic well
- Entices someone unfamiliar with your work to try it
- Is short enough to be delivered quickly
What’s an elevator pitch?
An “elevator pitch” is just that — it’s a couple of phrases that you’d use to describe your comic to an important person who you’d just met in an elevator. He or she is getting off on the next floor. What do you say?
You use your elevator pitch all the time.
- You use it on your Web site to help acclimate new readers to the concept behind your strip.
- You use it at comic conventions to explain the comic to a passer-by.
- You use it in online advertising to maximize space efficiency.
- You use it on your business cards
I think the key to a good con pitch is to think like a reader — not like a creator.
Choose Your Words Carefully
For example, when we talk about comics we use words like the following:
- geek humor
Not surprisingly, these words don’t carry the same weight with our intended audience as they do among us. We use those words and phrases to communicate thoughts on a certain level, but our readers… they just want to be entertained.
No reader describes himself as a devotee of slice-of-life family comedies.
To write a good elevator pitch, you have to first understand whom your audience (intended and/or actual audience) is.
Getting into the mindset of your readers allows you to use the words that have special meaning to that community.
And one of those words might be one of the words listed above for your audience.
But it’s probably not.
Keep it short
Two sentences. Tops. The best pitch is one sentence. And a short one at that.
Editing a pitch means being absolutely brutal. Every word that doesn’t help deliver significant meaning is actually blocking the meaning.
Use “Mash-ups” With Care
“It’s like the ‘Addams Family’ meets ‘Lost in Space.'”
We hear these kinds of pitches used all the time when people describe selling ideas for movies and television. And, to be sure, if the mash-up is chosen accurately, you can build off the concepts carried by each component to communicate your idea.
But beware, every once in a while, you’ll meet someone who didn’t like “Lost in Space.” Or the connoations from one or both of the mashed-up elements seeps into your work. In the above example, both of the elements had an element of campiness to them. It would not be an adequate description of a serious drama.
Make it Powerful
Use active, expressive words. You’re trying to generate a little interest here. Your vocabulary should reflect that.
Once you’ve honed your pitch on paper, start repeating it. Memorize it. Rehearse it. The more you say it, the more you’re going to erode the corners off it, wearing away exterraneous words and phrases. It’s also a great way to lock it into your subconscious, where your brain can continue to work to improve it.