Nailing Your Elevator Pitch: Tips for Concise and Impactful Presentations

Posted by Belinda Huckle  |  On October 5, 2023  |  In Presentation Training, Tips & Advice

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If you’re a regular reader of our presentation tips blogs then you’ll notice something different about this one. It’s conciseness. Not surprising when the topic we are covering is the elevator pitch. But don’t be fooled into thinking that conciseness equates to simplicity. Crafting the perfect elevator pitch is a skill and discipline that is worth developing and refining. So, let us take you through the key components of a great elevator pitch, guide you on its structure and the pitfalls to avoid. 

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a slang term for a well-rehearsed pitch that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator. They are typically between 30 and 60 seconds long and are designed to concisely: 

  1. Set out a problem 
  2. Provide a unique solution 
  3. Offer an insight into what success looks like
  4. Then end with a call to action. 

The goal? To deliver a compelling pitch within a short space of time that communicates a clear proposition, generates curiosity, and secures a follow-up meeting or next step. 

The elevator pitch is a great way to market or present an idea, a product or even yourself. There are many scenarios in business where the elevator pitch can be used as an effective communication tool; at an impromptu meeting where you see an opportunity to impress, at an event to introduce yourself, to kick-start a meeting, to open a presentation or simply to share an idea with colleagues.

If you haven’t written an elevator pitch before then why not start with this simple exercise. Imagine you’re at a networking event and someone asks ‘What do you do?’ You have 30 seconds. You need to sound confident, you need to be interesting, you need to be concise. And, it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, that it will land much better if you’re able to make it specific and relevant for the person/people you’re talking to. You’ve got about 75 words to do it. Go on, have a go (maybe read the rest of this article before though)!

Tailoring your elevator pitch to different audiences

In every presentation skills workshop that we run, the very first thing that we cover is the importance of understanding the wants, needs and key motivators of your audience. Being aware of these will give you the intel that you need to tailor the content and style of your elevator pitch to ensure that it is specific, relevant and persuasive for them.

So, before you begin to write your elevator pitch, ask yourself some key questions, to ensure you make it as spot on for your audience as you can. For example: ‘What do you think are their biggest work challenges you may be able to help them with?’ ‘What do you think they already know about you/your business/your solutions?’ .

Crafting your elevator pitch

how to craft your elevator pitch

As you have such a short time to deliver an elevator pitch, a structure will really help you. But, before we help you with how a good elevator pitch should be structured you need to think about what your core message is i.e. why do you/your products or services exist. An effective way to do this is to use the FFB approach. Salespeople will be familiar with the Feature, Function, Benefit (FFB) approach, also called the Feature, Advantage, Benefit (FAB) model, as it is an effective way to communicate the essence of any business, product or service.  Here are three examples:

Google

  • Feature: Vast database combined with a super-fast search engine.
  • Function/Advantage: Helps people around the globe access the information they need in an instant.
  • Benefit: You can find information quickly and easily, empowering your curiosity and productivity.

Noise-cancelling headphones

  • Feature:  Active noise-cancelling technology.
  • Function/Advantage: Blocks out background noise completely.
  • Benefit: You can immerse yourself in silence or whatever soundscape you want, whenever and wherever you want. 

A new family recipe book

  • Feature:  Each recipe uses only 5 ingredients.
  • Function/Advantage: Quick and easy nutritious meals.
  • Benefit: You can spend more time with your family and less time in the kitchen.

How to structure an elevator pitch

how to build your elevator pitch

There is no ‘one solution fits all’ template for an elevator pitch, but at a basic level a good elevator pitch will include these 5 key elements;

1. What’s the ‘problem’ that you solve? There’s always a ‘problem’! Articulate it to resonate with your audience immediately, so rather than simply stating the problem, try one of the techniques below:

  • Use a storytelling opening e.g. ‘Have you ever wished…’ ‘Do you remember when…’ Just imagine if …’.
  • Share an anecdote (a short story)
  • Ask a rhetorical question. It compels the audience to engage while they think to themselves of an answer.
  • Use a startling statistic relevant to your problem/solution, contradict a universally accepted concept, introduce a metaphor or analogy.

2. What’s your solution? Be specific and make sure you give the key feature/s and the format of your solution (is it an app, a service, a tangible product etc.).

3. Your value proposition. A single sentence that crisply explains the full mix of benefits of your solution – the value they’ll gain from your solution.

4. Your USP. The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is a marketing statement that differentiates your product/brand from its competitors.

5. Call to action. What do you want to happen next? Are you looking for a second meeting, an introduction to someone else (the key decision maker etc.), an investment. Make sure there is a contact mechanism in place.

Within any elevator pitch, try to demonstrate/showcase what sets you or your business apart by emphasising what you alone bring to the table.

Rehearsing and Refining Your Pitch

An elevator pitch is a presentation, and as with all presentations our advice is to practise, practise, practise.  With an elevator pitch it’s even more important to do this with colleagues, so that you can get honest and critical feedback (because you only get one chance to make an impression). The objective is to refine and finesse, even if it’s the odd word here or there, to make your pitch as strong and as convincing as you can.

What could possibly go wrong? Common elevator pitch mistakes to avoid

elevator pitch mistakes to avoid

If you think that very little can go wrong in 30-60 seconds, then you’d be mistaken. If you fail to research your audience properly, don’t communicate the problem correctly or clearly, or miss the mark in explaining your solution and USP effectively, then you’ll realise this in, roughly, 8 seconds – the average time it takes to engage or turn-off an audience. Here are some of the most common pitfalls, so you’re forewarned and don’t make them when delivering your elevator pitch.

  1. Don’t make it too long or too complicated. Get to the point straight away and always start with the problem that you are about to solve.
  2. Don’t be pushy. No one likes an arrogant or aggressive sales pitch. Be genuine and respectful and remember the goal is to build rapport and show how you add value. 
  3. Remember it’s a two-way conversation. Listen carefully to any feedback or questions and provide clear, concise replies.
  4. Don’t be generic. No one wants a broad solution to a common problem. Make sure you identify a specific need that has a unique solution.
  5. Don’t use jargon unless you know your audience is intimate with the vocabulary/acronyms you’re using. 
  6. Don’t underprepare or fail to rehearse properly. It will show immediately, and your credibility will be in question.

You never know when an elevator pitch will come in handy so try to get into the habit of using this technique to clarify much of your thinking. And don’t forget, you are selling yourself as much as you are selling your solutions. So be yourself, let your personality shine through. 

And, finally, you might find this list of 25 persuasive power words to use in your next sales pitch useful, and for further inspiration read our How to pitch a new idea at a business meeting.

Develop your elevator pitch skills with personalised training.

If you’re looking for help on how to write and deliver effective elevator pitches, or indeed compelling pitch presentations for yourself, or your team contact us today! We offer training and coaching that is tailored to your business. 

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Belinda Huckle

Written By Belinda Huckle

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Read Bio

Belinda is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of SecondNature International. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training both In-Person and Online, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.

Belinda believes that people don’t have to change who they are to be the presenter they want to be. So she developed a coaching approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.

She has helped to transform the presentation skills of people around the world in an A-Z of organisations including Amazon, BBC, Brother, BT, CocaCola, DHL, EE, ESRI, IpsosMORI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Moonpig, Nationwide, Pfizer, Publicis Groupe, Roche, Savills, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.

A total commitment to quality, service, your people and you.