The Thirty Second Sell: How to Take Full Advantage of the Elevator Pitch

The feature image for a blog post about how to make an elevator pitch.

Imagine this. You’re on the local subway and you make eye contact with a former acquaintance, someone you haven’t seen in some time. You greet each other. Then they ask you what you’ve been up to, or what you do for work now.  Let’s say you begin to tell them, but your thoughts are all over the place. You start rambling about something irrelevant. Or maybe you pause, completely blanking on what to say. Suddenly it’s their stop, and you’ve lost your chance. Maybe if you had something prepared you could’ve kept them interested enough to follow up with you later. Being able to clearly explain what you do, in the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator, is a unique and difficult skill that I think everyone should take the time and try and master. Here are a few tips on how to perfect the skill of the elevator pitch.  

Craft More than One Elevator Pitch 

Most people think the elevator pitch is just for business or sales, but that isn’t the case. The elevator pitch is useful in many situations: 

  • Our subway example, where you need to explain what it is you do, or what your business does in an informal setting; 
  • An interview, where you need to explain why you’re the best fit for the job; 
  • At a networking event when you’re trying to make new connections. 

 Just think about all the instances where you’ve been in a social setting and the conversation has been steered your way. You could be in the presence of someone who could help you fund your creative project, or your small business and not even know it. Having the ability to quickly and clearly articulate your ideas and goals at any given moment can be extremely beneficial. Being able to read the setting and situation you’re in will help you decide on the type of pitch you want to give, whether it be formal, or informal. Which is why it’s important to have more than one. You want to craft each of your pitches, and be able to present them, with your audience in mind. But most importantly, practice them.  

Practice Each Pitch to Perfection 

I implore you to practice. I mean it. Practice your pitch whenever you have a spare thirty seconds. Practice it every time you get in an elevator alone—see how long it takes you. Practice your pitch with your best friend. Practice it with your pet. Practice it in the mirror before bed. Practice it until your pitch becomes an extension of you and it sounds as natural as a conversation between friends. Get used to talking yourself and your business up and be enthusiastic about it. The last thing you want is for your pitch to sound like you’re reading it from a piece of paper, or you’re a robot just regurgitating something you’ve memorized. Remember, the elevator pitch can open doors to longer conversations with potential investors or buyers, giving you the opportunity to encourage a business relationship with them. Just make sure you leave them with something to remember you by.  

Follow Up with a Business Card 

The whole point of an elevator pitch is to wow the listener so much that they want to keep talking and start asking questions about your business or goals. But what if they don’t have the time do so right after the pitch? What if they have to leave? How will they get in touch with you? How will they remember you? Providing them with a professional looking business card is a good start. It’s quick and easy. Plus, they’ll most likely place it in their wallet. And if you did a solid job with your pitch, they might just reach out to you. Better yet. Ask them for theirs. Establish a connection with them by reaching out with a short business-like email, thanking them for their time. But leave it at that. Don’t overwhelm them. No one likes to be bombarded with messages. Like I said, if your pitch was on point, they won’t forget you. 

Editing Your Elevator Pitch  

Considering you’ll have a different pitch depending on the situation and your audience, the things that go into your pitch won’t always be the same. Here are a few basics to keep in mind when developing your pitch and adjusting it for your audience:   

  • Keep it short, keep it simple 
  • A hook, an opening line that grabs the audience’s attention 
  • Your name and what you do 
  • Your goals, or what you want to achieve 
  • How you’re going to help them 
  • No Jargon, keep the language simple 
  • Make sure it invites conversation and don’t forget your business card! 

It seems like a lot, especially for something that shouldn’t be longer than thirty seconds. Which is why crafting and perfecting the elevator pitch is not an easy task. It’s something that needs to be worked on and re-worked over and over again. But if done correctly, you can create ample opportunities for yourself and your business.    

Want to know more on how to craft the perfect pitch, check out this helpful guide here.