Elevator Pitch definition

Elevator pitch definition

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What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short, persuasive proposal that you can use to spark interest in an idea, product or company - or in yourself. The pitch is about who you are, what you do and what you want to do.

Elevator pitches are a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase their expertise and credentials in a quick and effective way, often with people who don’t know much about them.

It’s called an elevator pitch because it should be able to be delivered start to finish during a short elevator ride - roughly 20 to 30 seconds.

The short pitch should be succinct, memorable and interesting, and explain what makes you - or your idea, product or company - unique.

If articulated correctly, an elevator pitch creates scope to introduce yourself to career connections in a clear and compelling manner.

Elevator pitch or elevator speech?

The terms can be used interchangeably and both are similar, however, to be exact, an elevator pitch is usually delivered to investors in a more formal environment, often accompanied with a presentation slide deck to support the pitch. Also, an elevator pitch can be delivered online, over email or as a slide deck that investors can view at their leisure.

On the other hand, an elevator speech is – unsurprisingly - always delivered verbally. And, it can be utilised in a range of formal and informal settings, but is often more suitable in social settings, or early on in introductory meetings when you are time-restricted and need to give an impromptu description of what you do and what you want to achieve.

When to Use an Elevator Pitch

You can use elevator pitches in countless different scenarios. They’re not just for salespeople when they need to pitch a product or service - you can use it simply to tell people you meet what your job entails.

Also, if you’re looking for a new job, you can use an elevator pitch at job fairs and online in your Twitter bio or Linkedln summary.

Or, you can whip out your elevator pitch at networking events and mixers, so you can introduce yourself or your organisation to potential clients. If you’re attending any professional association event, it’s a smart move to have your elevator pitch at the ready so you can make business connections.

A job interview is another scenario where using your elevator pitch could be advantageous - in particular, when faced with the classic and sometimes intimidating ‘tell me about yourself’ question. Imagine that your elevator pitch is a concise version of your response to that question.

You could even use it within your organisation to sell a new initiative to your boss or to outline a change in direction to colleagues.

How to Write an Elevator Pitch

Writing an elevator pitch can be difficult due to trying to communicate a large amount of information in a short time frame. Speaking faster is not the answer. Instead, craft a captivating narrative that leaves the audience wanting to know more. The pitch might cover the problem that your company solves, your target market, your solution, the value you offer, your traction and progress so far, your experience or your goal. See below for some general tips that should make the writing process much simpler:

  • Keep it brief. Restrict the pitch to no more than 60 seconds, at the absolute maximum. It’s tempting to go on and on about a subject that you’re passionate about, but it is important to give the appropriate information without losing the interest of the audience. If you capture their interest, they may ask questions so you can elaborate further.
  • Know your goal. You don’t need to get so specific you send the listener to sleep. An overly targeted goal won’t be beneficial if you wish to deliver your pitch in numerous situations. However, do be clear about what you’re looking for; for example, ‘a role in recruitment’, ‘an opportunity to open a restaurant franchise’ or ‘to relocate to China with a job in the same industry.’ The end goal isn’t to inform them with every last bit of detail, it’s more to make connections, organise a meeting or get permission to explain in more depth.
  • Know your audience. Using jargon can demonstrate your industry-specific expertise. Be careful employing jargon in an elevator pitch. In particular, if you’re speaking to recruiters who may not recognise the terms, using jargon could put them off. Hence, adapt the language you use to suit the knowledge of the audience.
  • Practise, but avoid memorising. Of course, rehearsing and feeling confident is a great idea. But you don’t want to seem too scripted and robotic. Therefore, avoid word-for-word memorisation, and instead try to deliver your speech in a conversational manner, so it is easier to connect with the audience. Also, if you don’t remember it word for word, it is easier to customise depending on the audience (as mentioned in previous tip).
  • Be persuasive. Despite being short in length, your elevator pitch should capture enough interest that the audience wants to find out more. Especially if your pitch is a little longer, keep the audience engaged by telling an entertaining anecdote that makes the problem that you or your organisation is addressing feel real.

Elevator Pitch Examples

See below for a great example of an elevator speech:

“Did you know that demand for high-end Mexican food in the U.S. has grown by over 100 percent in the past two years? Foodies are looking for more than just the generic, Americanised tacos and burritos in record numbers.

“I plan on opening a modern, Latin American-themed restaurant that elevates Mexican and other Latin American dishes. I’ll use classic ingredients and modern techniques that will help demonstrate how Mexican food is much more than what most people think.

“We’ve tested the market by catering several high-end events and are ready to move to a full-service restaurant. I’ve opened several other successful restaurants and food trucks, so I expect the launch to go very smoothly.”

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