How to do an Elevator Pitch

by Oudraa S

As an entrepreneur, you never know when you’ll meet a prospective business partner or customer, prompting you to provide an elevator pitch. You want to be ready to go at a moment’s notice because there is no guarantee that that specific opportunity will present itself again. That is why it’s so important to always have your elevator pitch ready in the back of your mind. Even if you don’t have it memorized, knowing the key points you want to relay will help guide your short and sweet monologue. Read on to find out everything about an elevator pitch and how to perfect yours!

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short and concise introduction, usually between 30-90 seconds that you can use to introduce yourself and your business to someone when you meet them. The idea behind the pitch is that in this short timeframe, it will be difficult for the other person to remember who you are, so it's important that you give them a memorable introduction.

The name “elevator pitch” stems from the idea of having a limited amount of time to pitch your idea to someone in an elevator. However, an elevator pitch can be given in any scenario where you may not know a person and you are trying to quickly explain your business or product. An elevator pitch can also be done via email!

The purpose of an elevator pitch is not only to introduce yourself, but to also give your contact information, let the person know what business or organization you represent, and leave the conversation with an invitation for further discussion. Your pitch should be succinct and compelling enough to create interest in the listener.

It should also be persuasive enough to make the listener want to know more about the product or service being pitched. A memorable pitch can be the difference between acquiring a new investor in your business, making a sale, or simply encouraging a listener to spread positive feedback about your business.


How Long is an Elevator Pitch?

The length of an elevator pitch truly varies and will depend on the context. Most aim to have a pitch that lasts about 30-90 seconds, but some say it’s okay to go for as long as 3 minutes. The most popular timeframe seems to be between 60-90 seconds. If your elevator pitch is actually an email, try to keep the same sentiments of clarity and conciseness. You don’t want your opening email to be more than a few sentences otherwise you run the risk of the recipient not reading it all the way through or flagging it as spam.

What to Say in an Elevator Pitch?

As previously described, an elevator pitch is the short speech one gives in order to persuade a person to do something. It should be concise, interesting, and memorable. In your pitch, it’s imperative that you get out the important details of your business, product, or service before your listener leaves the elevator or shared space. Knowing what to say in an elevator pitch is just as important, if not the most important thing to be aware of.

Think of your pitch as a quick summary of who you are and what you do. Your pitch should be like a verbal business card with easy to remember points. When creating your elevator pitch, it doesn’t necessarily matter what order you provide the details in as long as you get it all out.

Many people will suggest that you gently request if you can have a moment of the listener’s time before beginning your pitch. Although this is completely respectful and considerate to do, the problem with this is that it leaves the door open for the listener to quickly say “no”.

Let’s face it, most people don’t want to be bothered. Moreover, if they think you’re about to sell something, they’re less inclined to listen. It’s up to you to decide how you want to approach this but don’t be afraid to be assertive, while remaining respectful of course!

In order to have a great elevator pitch, here are a few things to remember about your presence:  

  • Ask if you can have a moment of their time
  • Don’t get in their personal space
  • Don’t be rude, aggressive, or pushy
  • Remain respectful no matter what their response is
  • Be able to accept “no” and understand that they are free to say so

These tips may seem obvious but when you are in the moment or in dire need of a win to take your business to the next level, it is easier to have a lapse in judgment or behavior.

When it comes to your actual pitch, it’s important to personalize and arrange it in the best way that it flows. You don’t want to be stumbling over your words because you’ve outlined your pitch in a rigid way that doesn’t even sound like you.

Here’s what to include in your elevator pitch:

  • A quick introduction about yourself (your name, business/organization you represent, and what product/service you are offering
  • A problem or issue your business addresses
  • How you/your business solves the problem
  • Who your target audience is and why
  • What makes you/your company unique and why they should choose you over your competitors (can include nominal results and what they can expect from you)
  • How to contact you (be sure to give them your business card if they accept!)
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This list is not exhaustive and of course, you can customize these tips however you’d like. Since you only have a short amount of time to get across some key points, you may need to play around with your pitch a number of times. Depending on how quickly or slowly you speak, you may not be able to fit all of these tips into your pitch.

But remember, the key is to find what points are important to you and go from there. A listener could forget every single thing you told them about yourself or business but because you were so personable, they will remember your name or take a second look at that business card…and that’s all you need!

When you have written your pitch out, it’s a good idea to practice in front of a mirror, practice with another person via roleplay, and even record yourself. These methods will all help you hear and see how you are coming across to the listener. You will be able to self-analyze and also get feedback from another person during your roleplay. Don’t be afraid to edit and re-edit your pitch – it could take multiple drafts to perfect!

Examples of Elevator Pitches

It can be stressful and daunting to come up with a good elevator pitch. You must understand that it will differ for everyone and what works for one person may not work for another. Even the most successful entrepreneurs received multiple rejections before getting a “yes”, so don’t be discouraged. Below are some quick examples of an elevator pitch using the tips above.

Elevator Pitch #1

You’re looking for someone to invest in your free messaging app, “WhatsApp”

“Hey, how’re you doing? I’m Jane Doe, creator of the messaging app known as Whatsapp. Have you ever heard of it before? I have tons of family overseas and struggled to keep in contact with them without having to pay crazy add on fees or fight with my phone provider. That’s why I created Whatsapp – it’s a free messaging service for anyone trying to stay in touch with others. All you need to do is download the app and then add your loved one’s number. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in. As long as you both have the app, you can talk whenever, for however long, for FREE. I’m looking for investors right now to take this to the next level so if you’re interested, contact me. Here’s my business card. Thanks, and have a great day!”

Elevator Pitch #2

You’re trying to get more customers for your grocery delivery service, Instacart

“Do you need help carrying a bag? Don’t you hate having to lug all of your groceries back to your place after spending a good part of your weekend shopping for them? I’m John Doe by the way. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of Instacart but it’s an app that allows you to choose your grocery items from home. You open the app, choose, and pay for your items, and then someone will deliver them directly to you within the hour! Imagine having your whole Saturday back because you don’t have to go into a busy grocery store and get groceries. The app is easy, free, convenient, and safe. All of our shoppers are vetted and if an item is ever missing or incorrect, you’ll be refunded immediately. You can download the app via the app store but if you have any other questions, here’s my business card!

These are just two of many elevator pitch examples used to give you an idea of how your words can come to life using these tips. Note that the pitches above did not incorporate every tip exactly. The tips are there as a guide and can help you direct the flow of your pitch. Also be aware of your surroundings and commonalities because that can help you start the conversation with your listener (i.e., example #2 where the listener is carrying grocery bags)

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What Not to do During an Elevator Pitch

There are many things you should be doing when drafting and reciting your elevator pitch, but there are also things you may want to avoid. This is equally as important because you are representing your business and you don’t want to leave a bad impression on a potential customer or investor.

A common mistake people make while giving an elevator pitch is to spend too much time on the benefits and not enough time on what the product actually does. This can be a huge turn-off for potential customers because they may think you are selling them a dream. Like the tips state, remember to introduce and address a problem you are solving, as well as how you are solving that problem with your product or service.

Some other things you should avoid during an elevator pitch include:

  • Being too loud
  • Using too may hand gestures
  • Staring at your phone or not making an appropriate amount of eye contact
  • Not giving your listener enough personal space
  • Being angry or rude
  • Being too brief and confusing
  • Using too many buzzwords
  • Getting too technical without context or confirmation that your listener has that technical aptitude
  • Using inappropriate jargon

This non-exhaustive list is another reason why you should always practice your pitch! Through practice, you can become more aware of your tone, body language, and wording to correct if necessary.

Why an Elevator Pitch is a Persuasive Speech

A key to understanding how to draft a good elevator pitch is found in understanding the tone of your pitch. An elevator pitch is considered a persuasive speech. Why? It’s considered as such because you are essentially trying to persuade your listener into buying a product/service from you or investing in your business.

What is a Persuasive Speech?

A persuasive speech is a type of speech that has the goal of convincing the audience to believe in a certain idea. Persuasive speeches are designed to change the opinion of the audience or get them on board with something. Persuasive speeches are often used in political campaigns, debates, and speeches, but can also be used in advertising, marketing, and in business pitches.

Successfully changing the mind of your listener or getting them to believe in your business can be achieved through a number of different strategies via a persuasive speech or an elevator pitch. You can ask rhetorical questions, use emotional appeals, bring up a common grievance between the two of you, or provide new information for listeners to process.

There’s no doubt why an elevator pitch is considered another form of a persuasive speech, so you should use it to your advantage.


Being Confident During Your Elevator Pitch

Doing an elevator pitch can be incredibly nerve-racking. You don’t want to fumble over your words or say the wrong thing which can add to your stress. One thing that will definitely help you deliver an amazing pitch lies in your confidence meter! Confidence is also an important characteristic to have as an entrepreneur. Check out our 21 Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur blog for more characteristics.

The first step to being confident is in the preparation.

The most important thing is to know your pitch in and out. If you're not knowledgeable about your pitch (the product or service you are selling), it will translate.

Secondly, it's important to have a clear goal in mind before even giving your pitch. This way, you can focus on the outcome and not have your attention pulled away by other thoughts.

Finally, make sure that you are well-rested and hydrated before giving your pitch. This is more realistic if you can anticipate when you’ll give your elevator pitch as it will help with your energy levels and make you feel more confident. However, since most pitches are delivered at random, you should be ready to go whenever!

Don’t forget, public speaking and speech-giving is a skill that can be learned! It's not necessarily something you have to be born with. The best way to build confidence in public speaking is to actually do it, as often as possible. Whether you trip over your words, or go blank in the middle of your pitch, keep going. Mistakes build character if you learn from them.


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Giving an elevator pitch can be fun, exciting, interesting, and character building. Sometimes an opportunity presents itself on a whim, so you need to be sure that you’re ready to sell your business, product, or service in the best way possible.

Preparing an elevator pitch and having it in your back pocket will ensure that you’re always ready to go and increase your chances of getting an investor to sign on or a buyer to purchase your product/service. Don’t be afraid to fail…just try and start pitching!

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