Elevator Pitch Basics

Elevator pitch in an elevator

An elevator pitch is a quick, persuasive speech that tells people who you are and what you do in about 30 seconds. It is the answer to the good-old question, “So…what do you do?”

This quick pitch is referred to as an “elevator pitch” as you should be able to pitch your business to someone on the ride up or down an elevator. Its purpose is to be concise and compelling enough to have the person you’re speaking to with a desire to know more. 

Elevator pitches can be used to find investors, network at events and during job interviews. 

In this guide we will cover:

  • Why you need an elevator pitch
  • What questions your pitch should answer 
  • Examples of good elevator pitches
  • Tips for writing a killer elevator pitch

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Donald Miller, Author of Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, share’s how you can easily create an elevator pitch. 

Why you need an elevator pitch

Business people are busy people who usually move from one task to the next. Getting their attention in a short time window is your goal, and your elevator pitch should deliver the basic information and leave them wanting more. 

The execution of this short speech is pivotal to your business. Describe who you are and what you do in a very short amount of time while still capturing the attention of those you speak to. 

In about 30 seconds, you must be able to really sell your audience on what you offer, while also conveying your/your business’ personality in such a brief interaction. 

Your pitch is truly a make or break for your business, therefore having a killer compelling elevator pitch is essential.  

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Answer People’s Questions 

While elevator pitches can be used for different purposes, they should all work to answer a few key questions about you and your business. There are also some key elements to include towards the end of a good pitch. 

So what do you need to cover in your elevator pitch?

Who are you? 

In a brief sentence, describe who you are as a person or as a business to introduce yourself to your audience. 

What do you do and how do you do it?

Tell your audience what you do and how. Allude to or explicitly state the problem that you are solving and how you accomplish this. You can use your unique value proposition to further elaborate on this and lead into the next point.

How well do you do?

Include supporting numbers or details about how well you do what you do. Whether it’s a full sentence or just a little add-on to your value proposition, include a quantitative data statistic to establish credibility with tangible evidence.

What makes you different?

You should briefly explain the unique qualities that make you different from other businesses or candidates out there. What do you bring to the table that others don’t?

Engage the audience

Be sure that you are engaging who you are speaking with by speaking with them, not at them. You can do so by including a question for them that progresses into your lead, or an engaging question somewhere throughout your pitch. It can even be as simple as having a good hook to start the pitch.

Follow up steps

This is one of the most important aspects of your pitch as it serves as a call to action. If you are both able to continue talking and are both interested in doing so, do so.  You can also have a business card ready to hand them to provide them with your information or ask for their business card or contact information so that the ability to reach out is in your power. Either way, it enables both parties to further engage in conversations and explore possibilities past your brief pitch.

Examples of Elevator Pitches:

Pitches can vary in design based on what you are pitching. The format can be quite different when looking at a pitch for an interview vs. one for capital investment in your company. Though they will all include similar elements to the ones listed above, the specific layout may differ. See examples of good elevator pitches and learn how to tailor them towards what you are pitching.

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TIPS to share your elevator pitch:

Be Flexible

The last thing you want to do is be completely robotic in your delivery. Tailor your pitch based on the lead you’re speaking with to fit their interests, mannerisms, and professionalism. Judge your eccentrics and expressions on how the mood tends to be in your interactions leading up to your pitch. Adapt your pitch to your audience as each person will connect with a different style of presentation.

Keep it Short

The purpose behind your pitch is to introduce yourself and your business. Make sure it is short and does not surpass 30 seconds. Your lead may, and hopefully will, continue the conversation which at that point, by all means, continue; however, the elevator pitch itself should not last more than 30 seconds. By keeping it short, you show your respect for their time and your confidence as you don’t feel the need to ramble while trying to convince them that you and your business are great.

Personalize Your Pitch

All businesses and brands have different “vibes”. They serve different purposes and function in different ways, so be sure that your pitch fits your business and has the same tone that your brand speaks with. Reconfigure your pitch to fit what you find most important to include in it. At the end of the day, nobody knows your business as well as you do, so represent it in the best way possible by personalizing your pitch to be uniquely beneficial to your business.

Practice, Practice, and Practice Again

While your pitch should not seem robotic or unnatural, practicing your pitch over and over again will make you feel more comfortable and confident while delivering it. You should be able to give your pitch anywhere at any time without feeling the need to rehearse it in your head. You never know when the opportunity to pitch to a lead will arise, so practice it to a point where you feel completely comfortable no matter the circumstances.

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