The Essential Elevator Pitch Guide

By Robin Bull
August 02, 2016



Elevator pitches. If you’ve been in business any longer than an hour, it’s likely that you’ve heard the word. And you’re also probably groaning at writing a sales pitch. Yet, it’s not just a short sales pitch for businesses. An elevator pitch if useful for students, job seekers, employers, writers, entrepreneurs, and pretty much anyone who needs other people to know who they are and what you do. When you think of the term, think of it as more of a short pitch about you and how you can bring value to a school, a job, an employee, or a prospective client. It’s less about selling and more about showing people just how you can help.

In this short guide, we’re going to teach you the basics of an elevator pitch. A well-written elevator pitch can help you get into the school of your dreams, land a job, intrigue and eventually retain the perfect employee, and garner interest in what you have to offer as someone who is self-employed. Specifically you will find the following ten sections in our guide:

1) What is an Elevator Pitch?

2) Everyone Should Have an Elevator Pitch

3) Creating Your Elevator Pitch in Six Steps

4) Step One - Consider Your Ultimate Goal

5) Step Two - Answering What You Do

6) Step Three - Address a Pain Point

7) Step Four - Write It Out and Practice 

8) Step Five - Get Feedback

9) Step Six - Write More Than One

10) Get Out There!

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short, prepared speech that tells the other person who you are and what you do. Of course, you’re not going to be able to fit everything into it. Elevator pitches are generally only around 30 seconds long. It’s something that piques the interest of the other party and makes them want to know more about you. Using the baseball metaphor, this is your ball.

Everyone Should Have an Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches are often written about in the context of being only for people who have their own business. While that is certainly an excellent use, everyone should have an elevator pitch. For job seekers, an elevator pitch can give a brief picture of the value and skills that you can bring to an organization. For employers, it can paint a picture of your company and what you have to offer. For writers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who owns a business, it’s about creating interest in what you have to offer the other person. For students, it’s about showcasing how amazing you are and you and your accomplishments will be an asset to a program or another educational institution.

Everyone should have an elevator pitch. It’s about telling others who you are and what you do in a way that makes people curious about whether partnering with you in some way will provide a benefit to them. It also makes it faster and easier to answer the question, “So, what do you do?”

Creating Your Elevator Pitch

Creating your elevator pitch may seem like an overwhelming task. It doesn’t have to be. Although it’s important to take some time and think about exactly what points you’d like to ensure that the other person hears, you can follow these steps and be well on your way to writing your elevator pitch. Remember to practice it after you’ve written it. When you use it, you want it to sound natural, not forced.

Step 1 – Consider Your Ultimate Goal

Your elevator pitch may have the same components as someone else’s, but since your goal is different, your information will be different. Are you looking to land a certain type of job? Are you looking to hire someone with a specific skillset? Are you looking to introduce your business and what you have to offer? Think for a moment about your ultimate goal. Then, put yourself into the shoes of the other person. What would get you interested in you? Ultimately, the elevator pitch is introducing you and what you have to offer, but it’s actually about the other party.

Step 2 – Answering What You Do

If you’re a writer, you may be thinking of just saying, “I’m a writer.” The issue with that is, as you know, there are many types of writers and there are many people who will respond back with, “So, where’s your novel and why haven’t I heard of you?” Try to branch out and truly define what you do as a writer. This is particularly important if you are a non-fiction writer. If you’re a content writer for corporations, you could say, “I provide valuable and engaging SEO driven content for businesses in the (name) industry.”

If you’re looking for a job, be natural. Talk about your field of interest and accomplishments that make you an asset in that field. No experience? Not necessarily a problem. Take former positions, even if it is volunteering, and translate those skills over. If you planned functions for a group of volunteers, then you have some experience planning events and managing projects. It’s important that you’re able to clearly explain what it is that you’re looking to do in your chosen industry. People can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re actually looking to do.

Businesses looking to hire an employee need to both gain the interest of the potential candidate and make it easy for them to engage. If you’re a recruiting manager you could say, “I’m a recruiting manager for ABC Corporation. My main goal is to identify potential candidates who would be happy working with us.” Although it may not sound glamorous, that statement shows your interest in the other party and their happiness. It shows that you are with an organization that cares about their employees. Employees want to feel valued, appreciated, and like they matter.

If you’re in business, think about how you can explain what you do in a way that will tell the other person what you can do for their business. Think back to the example above about the writer. Companies online want website visitors. They want people reading, sharing, and interacting with their content. SEO content is a big part of that, but above that, the writing must be something that the audience wants to share. It must be engaging. Engaging means more visitors. That sample sentence explains what the writer does and how it can help the other person.

Step 3 – Address a Pain Point

In business, a pain point is an area that either isn’t profitable or is otherwise some sort of a problem. Regardless of the ultimate goal for your elevator pitch, you should address a pain point for the other party.

Job seekers, how can you lower costs? How can you do a better job than anyone else? What do you bring to the table that no one else does?

Employers, what do you provide your employees that similar companies don’t? Do you have a mission statement that your employees can identify with and support? What do you offer that makes your organization a great place to work?

Entrepreneurs, you’re not the only person that does what you do. So, what makes you unique? Why are you better positioned to provide service? It’s extremely important that you’re able to identify and capitalize on what makes you a better choice. Remember, it’s not always going to be about the cost of what you provide. Think more in the terms of the way you approach or deliver your solutions and the overall value that you provide. You could be the least expensive writer in the world, but it won’t matter if you don’t produce the content that your potential clients want and do it in a reasonable time.

Step 4 – Write It Out and Practice

Practice makes perfect – just ask any professional athlete. This is why you need to write out your elevator pitch and spend time practicing it. When you read it out loud, think about the words that you use. Is there a better word choice? Is there something else that you really want to add? Does it sound natural? Is it less than 30 seconds long? Remember, the more you practice, the more natural you’ll sound when you repeat it. It’s important that you don’t sound like you’re reading from a cue card.

Take out any jargon that pertains to what you do. This isn’t about trying to sound smarter than anyone else. Actually, it’s about making sure people understand what you have to offer. The best way to do that is to use words that can be easily understood. Don’t make the other person feel stupid.

Step 5 – Get Feedback

It’s important that you get feedback on your elevator pitch. You may think it sounds amazing, but does it really? Give your elevator pitch to trusted friends and colleagues who can give you honest, constructive feedback. This is the best way to refine your elevator pitch.

Step 6 – Write More Than One

Earlier, you learned that elevator pitches aren’t really about the person giving it. It’s about the person hearing it. Writing more than one elevator speech can prepare you to encounter different types of people and still manage to get the right point across. It’s important that you tailor your elevator pitches because you wouldn’t talk to a job recruiter in the same way that you’d talk to a CEO who may need your services.

Get Out There!

An elevator pitch does you no good if you don’t use it. After you’ve practiced, get out there and use it! You’ll be glad that you did! Also, once you are done crafting your elevator pitch, feel free to get started on planning out the rest of your business with FormSwift's Business Formation Guide and Free Legal Forms Hub.