The winning elevator pitch: Uncover the secrets

We’ve all heard stories about deals being struck in the time it takes an elevator to travel from one floor to the next. Elevator pitches should be a concise, persuasive speech delivered in the time it takes to ride up or down a few floors in an elevator, anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. This brief window of opportunity is your chance to impress your captive audience, so let’s uncover the secrets of crafting a winner.

Understanding your target audience

Before getting started, make sure you do your research to learn as much as possible about your target audience. You’ll want to tailor your pitch to resonate with their specific needs and interests. Think about what challenges they are facing, what solutions you – or, more accurately, your products and services – can provide, as well as what sets you apart from the competition. Whether you're speaking to potential clients, investors or employers, always align your pitch with their priorities.

“When it comes to selling yourself in an interview, I always say to make sure you know 100% what it is that you want for your next move. I see a lot of people worry so much about making sure the company likes them, that they forget an interview goes two ways. But the main thing with an elevator pitch is to see how you both align to one another – this is not a one-way street,” says Amie Duignan, CEO and Founder of A.D Connects.

“I always recommend with your elevator pitch that it’s your time to shine. Quite honestly, you should brag, because bragging is good! If you can’t clap for yourself and be your biggest believer then who will? You have amazing experience so make sure you let them know all of it!”

Structuring your pitch for impact

A well-structured elevator pitch is like a well-constructed story – it should have a very distinct beginning, middle and end. Here’s a simple structure that can make your pitch impactful:

  • Introduction: Start with a compelling hook that grabs your audience’s attention. It could be a surprising fact, a thought-provoking question or a bold statement.
  • Body: Explain what you do and why it matters. Highlight the problem you’re solving or the value you will provide customers. Use concise language and avoid jargon.
  • Differentiation: Differentiate yourself or your business from others in your industry. What makes you so unique? Why should your audience care about you over the others?
  • Call to action: Wrap up your pitch with a clear call to action. What do you want your audience to do next? Whether it’s setting up a meeting, investing in your business or offering you a job, make it explicit.

Elements of a good pitch

A winning elevator pitch is the sum of all its parts, with the first hallmark being clarity. Your message should be crystal clear and easy to digest. Avoid complex language that might confuse your audience – remember that a clear message is more likely to be remembered.

Engaging your audience from the very beginning is also important. Start with a hook that piques their interest, whether it’s a captivating story or a specific problem–solution scenario. And don’t forget to infuse your pitch with genuine passion for your subject matter. When you speak with authenticity, it can be contagious. Your audience will be inspired by your message.

Finally, consider its relevance and conciseness. Tailoring your pitch to your audience is essential, so you’ll have to address their specific needs and pain points. A pitch that directly relates to your listeners will be more compelling and relatable. It’s also essential to keep things tight – a concise pitch is more likely to hold your audience’s attention and effectively tell your story.

What to include in your elevator pitch

Amie says there are “must-haves” when developing your elevator pitch.

“First, allow them to see who you are – what is your story?” she says. “Next, align your experience to what they are after – personalised tailoring is perfect. Then, highlight two examples of why you are interested in their company and how they align to what you want.

“These points are so important because they will build connections and they will allow you to show them how you’re perfect for them. As you highlight your needs, it allows the conversation to organically open to how they can add value to your career or business.”

Ready to craft a winning elevator pitch? Answer the following questions:

  1. Who are you? Start with a brief introduction of yourself or your company. Keep it simple and relevant.
  2. What’s your value proposition? Clearly articulate the problem you/your business solves or the value you provide. What pain points do you address, and how do you make a difference?
  3. What sets you apart from the competition? Highlight what sets you apart from others. It could be your unique approach, innovative technology or a successful career up to this point.
  4. What’s your social proof? If it suits your pitch, mention any notable achievements or awards that might give it credibility.
  5. What’s your call to action? End with a specific call to action and make it easy for your audience to engage with you.

Try these three example elevator pitches

Here are some sample pitches that you can tailor to your own circumstances, swapping out the key details for your name, your business, your industry and your goals.

For the entrepreneur

“Hi, I’m Tom and I'm the founder of GreenBizTech. We’re on a mission to change renewable energy forever. Our patented solar panel technology increases energy efficiency by 30%, making clean energy accessible and affordable for everyone. We’re looking for partners to invest in us and create a more sustainable future.”

For the jobseeker

“Hi there, I’m Laura, a marketing professional with a proven track record for boosting brand visibility and revenue growth. I specialise in digital marketing strategies and have successfully increased online engagement for several blue-chip companies. I’m eager to bring my expertise to a dynamic team like yours. Would you like to know more about how I can contribute to your company’s success?”

For the startup founder

“Hey, I'm Alex. I co-founded MediHub, an innovative telehealth platform that connects patients with healthcare providers entirely online. With our user-friendly interface and AI-powered diagnostics, we’re transforming the healthcare experience for the better. We're currently seeking investors who share our vision for accessible, efficient healthcare for all.”

Leave a lasting impression

Mastering the art of the elevator pitch is a valuable skill that can open doors and leave a lasting impression in any professional setting. Whether you're an entrepreneur, jobseeker or startup founder, your elevator pitch is your ticket to making a memorable mark in your industry.

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