This is a brilliant little time hack used by one of our investors. He receives dozens of requests for an elevator pitch from hopeful entrepreneurs every week. As a venture capitalist, part of his job is to screen these entrepreneurs. As with many things in life, 20% of these calls are great, the other 80% not so much. So how does one allow the good calls to run long while minimizing the time taken up by the not-so-much calls — and avoid having to cut a meeting short?
All right STOP… buffer time! 🎶
Here’s the meeting template used for these elevator pitch calls:
Notice that these calls get scheduled for 15 minutes but with four times as much “breather time” in between calls. By doing this, if one of my calls goes extremely well, I do not have to get off of the phone for a full hour. I can keep talking with the entrepreneur until my next meeting, at least an hour later.
On the flip side of that, if it quickly becomes clear that there is no path forward with this entrepreneur, I can gracefully exit the call after 15 minutes because that’s how long the call was originally scheduled! The entrepreneur on the other end of the phone will have no idea that I am not utilizing the optional hour I had set aside, they think I gave them the full 15 minutes promised. By using buffer time in this way I am protecting my time while leaving room for more valuable conversations to take as much time as needed.
After all, it is much more socially acceptable to let a meeting run long than to cut one short.