Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitch - ToolsHero

Elevator Pitch: this article explains the Elevator Pitch in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful communication skills tool. This article also contains a downloadable and editable Elevator Pitch template.
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What is an Elevator Pitch?

An Elevator Pitch, sales pitch or business pitch is a short and enthusiastic way in which an idea for a product, service or project is presented. The name reflects the time it takes for an elevator to go from the ground floor to the top floor, which is approximately 30 seconds to two minutes.

Entrepreneurs first used this term when they attempted to convince a venture capitalist that their idea was worth investing in. Venture capitalists use the quality of the Pitch as a way to judge the quality of an idea and the team behind it.

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An Elevator Pitch is also used for other purposes today, for example in networking situations. It may concern the sale of a product, seeking employment, speed dating or making a point quickly in a conversation. It is important to have an eye-catching presentation with ideas, comparisons and examples when delivering an elevator pitch, as presented in the AIDA-model (attention, interest, desire, action).

A successful Elevator Pitch is not just about presenting information and facts but it is also important to establish an emotional connection.

Elevator Pitch importance

A good elevator pitch brings added value in a large number of situations. It is an effective way to demonstrate certain strengths, skills and professional aptitude. That is why the elevator pitch is used when pitching a business idea, but also during the job search, for example in job applications.

Whether the interview takes place through a screen or in person, applicants are often asked to provide a summary of who they are. Everyone knows that a good first impression is important. The elevator pitch is therefore very suitable for answering the question/assignment: tell us something about yourself!

This introduction also fits well on a résumé, as a summary statement about an applicant. It also serves as a high-quality introductory talk, in line at the grocery store, at a cocktail party, or at an organized, professional business meeting. Wherever you go, having an elevator pitch ready is a great idea.

Background elevator pitch

There are a number of stories about the origin of the elevator pitch. First up is the story of Michael Caruso and Ilene Rosenzweig. These two former journalists were active in the 1990s.

Rosenzweig was constantly pitching ideas to the editor-in-chief at Vanity Fair, but the editor-in-chief could never keep their attention for long. Instead of giving presentations, Caruso started catching up with the editor-in-chief in the elevator, for example. The story goes that that’s how the elevator pitch was born.

A possibly different origin predates the story of Caruso and Rosenzweig. Author and business man Philip Crosby suggested that a prepared speech should be delivered within the time it takes an elevator to get to the top floor of a prominent figure.

Important elevator pitch questions

An effective Elevator Pitch should answer the following questions:

  • What is the product/service or project?
  • What is its use to the buyer/user?
  • Who are we?

Furthermore, it is important to take the following elements into account:

  • The content of the pitch
  • Verbal communication
  • Non-verbal communication

In addition, it is possible to target the goals of the Elevator Pitch such as the relevant market, the target group and the unique selling points of a product which set it apart from that of the competition.

Seven tips for a successful elevator pitch

1. Keep it short

An Elevator Pitch means that you are able to introduce your idea, product or service in the time it takes an elevator to go from the ground floor to the top floor. Your Pitch should be no longer than 30 seconds.

2. Study the target group and the situation

Each situation requires its own Elevator Pitch. Apart from preparing a general pitch you should prepare a number of specific pitches depending on the situation. An investment conference requires a different pitch than a purchasing conference or a conference where you are looking to find new customers.

3. Make an intriguing and powerful opening statement

Make a concise statement in which you solve a problem or fulfil a need. If you do not solve a problem or meet a requirement, it will be difficult to sell your product.

4. Promote the benefits

You are not pitching your idea, product or service. You are pitching the benefits of your idea or product.

5. Make it tangible

Do not say “ we are going to install your Linksys Wireless router” but tell them that you will make sure that the wireless internet (of the Linksys brand) will work without a problem.

6. Be passionate

Investors also like to invest in people. Show them your enthusiasm, your passion.

7. Call to action

Finish your pitch with a so-called “call to action”. Tell them that you will call them, or plan a meeting or accompany them to their office to continue the conversation. Make sure there is a follow-up – If you say you will call a prospect to make an appointment, then do so within the next one or two days.

What are pitfalls of an Elevator Pitch

Length of time

Although an elevator pitch is relatively easy to set up, there are also things to keep in mind to ensure a high-quality pitch. There is only a limited time available in which you have to transfer a lot of information. Do not try to solve this challenge by speaking faster. This makes it complex for the listener to filter out the core of your message.

Intonation

The opposite should also be avoided. Practice your pitch repeatedly. It’s important not to sound like a robot throwing out the same bit of text over and over, but you also don’t want to get confused sentences in your pitch or get off track. Give the person you’re pitching the space to interrupt you.

Body language

The disadvantage of practicing a pitch is that sometimes the focus is more on remembering the exact sentences than on the way in which the message should be conveyed. Maintain a high energy level, be confident and radiate enthusiasm.

How to write an Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch answers the following three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What are you doing?
  • What do you want?

Follow the step-by-step plan below to develop your elevator pitch. Make sure to include all relevant information from the pitch in the template before developing the final version. Don’t forget to end with a call-to-action.

Step 1: Introduce

If you’re approaching someone to pitch, either at an event or in a casual setting, start with an introduction. Give your full name, smile, extend your hand for a handshake or make a joke.

Step 2: Summarize what you do

Then give a very short and concise summary of what you do and your background. Only use the most relevant information, such as education, work experience, specialties and things you are good at. Don’t know what to say? Then write down as many characteristics and topics as possible on paper to consider them one by one. After that, remove anything that is not essential.

An example so far.

“Hello, my name is Michael. Nice to meet you here. I am a PR manager dedicated to guiding launches for initiatives from start to finish. In addition to nine years of professional experience, I recently graduated for my Masters degree at the University of ABC, with a focus on consumer psychology.”

Step 3: Explain exactly what you want (to achieve)

In this part of the pitch, focus on what you have to offer. It is a good opportunity to explain exactly what added value you will bring to a job or investment opportunity.

Let’s take Michael’s example again.

“Hi, my name is Michael. Nice to meet you here. I am a PR manager dedicated to guiding launches for initiatives from start to finish. In addition to nine years of professional experience, I recently graduated for my Masters degree at the University of ABC, with a focus on consumer psychology. I find the work your PR team does inspiring and innovative. I would love to have the opportunity to use my expertise for your company.”

Step 4: Close with a call-to-action (CTA)

An elevator pitch ideally ends with a call-to-action. Basically this means you end the pitch by stating what you want to happen next. What this is depends on the purpose of the pitch. Examples include asking for a meeting, investment, showing interest in a position, etc. Asking for something can be intimidating, but it’s very important because it gives the conversation an action point.

Back to the example.

“Hi, my name is Michael. Nice to meet you here. I am a PR manager dedicated to guiding launches for initiatives from start to finish. In addition to nine years of professional experience, I recently graduated for my Masters degree at the University of ABC, with a focus on consumer psychology. I find the work your PR team does inspiring and innovative. I would love to have the opportunity to use my expertise for your company. Could I schedule a short meeting next week to discuss future opportunities within your team?”

Elevator Pitch template

Start describing your Elevator Pitch with this ready to use template / worksheet.

Download the Elevator Pitch template

This template is exclusive for Toolshero members only. Click here to find out if our memberships suit you as well!

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? What is your experience with the Elevator Pitch? Do you recognize the content written above or do you have add-ons? What are your success factors for a good Elevator Pitch?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  • Diaz, C. S. (2009, July). Teaching the techno-pitch: Taking student innovators beyond the elevator pitch. In Professional Communication Conference, 2009. IPCC 2009.
  • Faust, B., & Faust, M. (2002). Pitch Yourself: Stand Out from the CV Crowd with a Personal Elevator Pitch. Pearson Education. IEEE International (pp. 1-7). IEEE.
  • Pincus, A. (2007). The perfect (elevator) pitch. Bloomsberg Businessweek.
  • How to cite this article:
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