How to sell yourself in 60 seconds (to Dangote et al.)

Imagine walking into an elevator and surprise, surprise: you meet Dangote, Africa’s richest man! And you’ve always wanted to work at (or partner with Dangote group), and you’ve got roughly 60 seconds before He alights, what are you going to do?


The 60 seconds pitch is an important test of whether you’ve gotten your value proposition and differentiation right. People you’re pitching often have no idea about the details of your market or the problem you intend to solve. Moreover investors have less time, most of them receive thousands of pitches every week, so you need to grab their attention quickly or lose them forever. You have to grab their attention in the first 10 seconds and keep them glued in the next 50 seconds. Here’s how:



Explain who you are, what you do and why you’re the best person to do it.

Always make out time to tell a brief story (in 2 lines) and make sure the story paints a powerful and descriptive picture of what you do. Put your skills right out in front of you. If your skills include marketing, explain how your marketing ideas transformed a company you formerly work for. Only results count, every other thing is noise.



You have to clearly state why you’re different from the competition. See yourself as a Brand. Brands don’t simply tell, brands show. Get to the crux of what you offer in the simplest way possible. A way that portrays your individual brand in the right light. A way that makes you both remarkable and memorable.



Watch out for clichés such as ‘ team player’. Everyone is a team player, so be more specific. In a few lines, discuss the teams (better still, a specific team) you worked with and how your leadership delivered tangible results. Don’t say you’re ‘detail oriented’, rather explain how you spotted out and corrected a major glitch in a computer system that put the entire system database at risk.



Don’t misbehave when you see famous investors or superstars. Don’t scream your head off. A simple smile, surprise on your face and some kind words to show just how much you’re inspired by their works will do. Show who you are by the way you present yourself. If you’re confident, make sure your posture agrees with you by standing up straight and maintaining eye contact. Don’t slouch. Open your arms, be calm and use small, stiff gestures when expressing yourself. Avoid fidgeting such as nail biting or toe tapping. It makes you appear uncomfortable. Be as alert and invested in the pitching as much as possible.



What are you expecting from the person whom you’re pitching to? What action do you want them to take? If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. You need to have a game plan, a strong conclusion and an intended response.



Your elevator speech must be clear and concise.

Dramatize the problem you’re trying to solve, introduce your unique, life-changing, epic solution. Tell a short story that grabs your listener’s interest and make them want to know more. You have to be your own devil’s advocate to increase your chances of being successful in any niche or business.

You will never have a second chance to make a good first impression.

Never be caught unprepared, give the answers to all the possible questions by yourself before you take that once in a lifetime opportunity of presenting your revolutionary idea to Dangote in the elevator.


Check out two samples:


Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: