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How to Write an Elevator Pitch That Will Open the Door to New Opportunities

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is essentially a short speech intended to generate interest in an idea or proposition within a very limited timeframe. How long does it take to go a couple of floors in an elevator? A few seconds, once the doors close? Or if you’re going to the higher floors in modern buildings, it can take as much as 30 seconds. There may be times when you have to pitch your idea – your product, service, or company – in that brief amount of time. And when you want to do this, you can’t improvise; you have to plan ahead so you can explain your idea quickly.

You’ll use your elevator pitch at other times than just in elevators, but the metaphor – that of time ticking away as the floors go by – is useful. You may use it at conferences when you meet new people, and are networking between panels. You can use it when you run into someone in a coffee shop or grocery store. And you may even use it in an elevator, when you’ve met someone who might invest in your company.

How long should an elevator pitch be?

How long should an elevator pitch be

Some people suggest that you keep an elevator pitch to less than 10 seconds, but that’s too limited. An elevator pitch is not like a tagline for a movie, which is intended to be a very short description of the film’s plot. Here are a few movie taglines I found on Amazon Prime Video; none of these tell much about the movies, and give merely a hint of their plots:

Hector is an eccentric yet irresistible London psychiatrist in crisis: his patients are just not getting any happier. He’s going nowhere. When a group of hard working guys find out they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy business man’s Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence. Two female scam artists compete to swindle a naive tech prodigy out of his fortune.

You’ll have more time than that to deliver your pitch, but you need to ensure that you don’t take too long. In busy environments, when people are milling around, they can’t take in too much, so you should keep your pitch to less than 30 seconds. But it is also a great idea to have several versions of the pitch: a quick tagline, a more extensive 30-second version, and a longer one where you go into more detail when you have the time.

What to include in an elevator pitch

What to include in an elevator pitch

One great way to start an elevator pitch is to use a question. Rather than sounding like you’re lecturing, you open yourself to the person you’re speaking with. Asking a question means that your listener can invest themselves in your story, and feel more a part of it.

Because, above all, an elevator pitch is a story. And like all good stories, is should have three essential constituent parts:

  1. The situation

  2. The problem

  3. The solution

  4. (Sometimes) the result

All new products and services are about a different way of doing things. They could be entirely new, or improvements on existing products, or your revolutionary idea could be an enhancement or simplification of a service that is already available. Even me-too products must have something to make them stand out in order to get funding from investors.

But all new products also respond to a situation and a problem: the lack of an efficient way to perform a task, the need for smaller devices or faster services, or an imbalance that can be righted with your new service.

The situation could be very simple. For example, “people like to drink coffee” (Starbucks). Or “employees need to communicate efficiently” (Slack). Every product has to meet a need, and, in some cases, can meet multiple needs.

How to write an elevator pitch that works

How to write an elevator pitch that works