Thursday, May 10, 2012

What is Your One-Sentence Pitch?


Last week, I got to talk to the Top Gun Class about crafting winning presentations. 
I love the story of Fed Ex’s founder Fred Smith,  and I sometimes try to imagine how he distilled down the complexity of FedEx for his initial investors. Let's imagine his first banker meeting. If I ever met him, that’s what I would ask him about. I’d ask, can you repeat your first pitch? Was it perfect? Was it awkward?

There are a lot of people...

Who want to mail a bunch of things...

And I need to buy some planes...

Figuring out the perfect pitch means finding that one sentence or phrase that captures an idea. This sentence needs to be simple, memorable, and rich.

The one sentence shows the destination. Your goal. It gives the listener a take-way: this entrepreneur is trying to... You always want the listener to be able to fill in that blank.

Knowing your one sentence gives you a mantra to repeat in your head. It’s so easy when starting up or starting out to over-promise especially in a meeting where a potential partner or potential customer is hoping for something. Having a boundary means you will use the references you have. In other words, your sentence or phrase gives you something to repeat in your head so that you don’t over promise and then under-deliver.

This sentence also frames your limits, which enables you to know what you need to ask for in a partner.


Your one sentence is so hard to write. The Top Gun class left with the assignment to help each other frame their one sentence. When the class leader made the assignment, I waited for the groan, kind of like in history class when the professor says, "And now, let's write a term paper."

But, of course, no one groaned because the value of the one sentence makes the work it takes to perfect worth it.

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