7 Elements of a Perfect Elevator Pitch

by Emily Retherford

4 min read

Imagine you jump into an elevator just as the doors are about to close. You turn around and realize your dream client is standing in the elevator behind you. The 10th floor has been selected, and you have a captive audience for a few seconds. This is the perfect time to deliver your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short pitch designed to entice potential clients, investors, or employers about your skills, product, or company. Due to increasing job mobility and the rise of independent entrepreneurs, elevator pitches are no longer restricted to that little box on cables. You might be just as likely to deliver an elevator pitch at a hockey game or a farmers’ market. Regardless of where you are and what you do, you need to be ready with a pitch when the opportunity presents itself.

1. Audience

Before you start writing, take some time to hone in on the purpose of your pitch. Are you trying to land a new client or co-partner with an existing business? Are you hoping to entice an investor to write a cheque, or do you just want to share information about your company to see what happens? Identifying a clear audience is key when crafting an elevator pitch, and in some cases, you may want to prepare a couple of elevator pitches so you’re ready for anyone.

2. Framing

Regardless of your audience, your pitch should have the same overall frame. Most importantly, you don’t sell products or have skills. You solve problems. To illustrate this idea, imagine you are a graphic designer and make logos for businesses. When crafting your pitch, you could talk about the types of logos you make, your keen eye for design, and your love of interesting colour combinations. That may be compelling, but to truly entice your listener, you need to reframe the pitch to acknowledge a problem and pose a solution. In this case, the problem may be how businesses suffer from choosing the wrong logo, or it may be how businesses often waste money developing several logos before finding the right one. The solution is your experience with branding and your approach to logos that do not disappoint. Remember, the most effective way to sell something is to present it as a solution for a problem.

3. Unique Selling Proposition

The right framing helps to explain the value of your product, but what makes it unique? A unique sales proposition refers to that extra bit of something special your product or service has that others don’t. An effective unique sales proposition has the power to entice a client to switch from another product or service to yours.

4. Spark

Now that you have the tangible elements in place, you want to add a spark to your pitch. If you’re excited about the pitch, your listeners will also be excited. The mood you choose is likely to be contagious, and it can set the tone for the entire relationship going forward.

5. Practice

To hit the right emotional note with your elevator pitch, you need to practice. It may feel a bit silly giving your pitch to the dog or practicing it in front of the mirror, but it’s worth the time. Without practice, pitches tend to feel staged and unnatural. If you practice, the words will flow naturally, and that will help fill your listener with confidence about your idea.

6. Engagement

The initial pitch is designed to hook your listeners, but after enticing them, you need to engage them. If appropriate to your objectives, get your product in their hands, and have them try it out. In cases where that’s not possible, ask a question. For example, if you make an app to help streamline new employee onboarding, ask your listener how he or she currently deals with onboarding. If you invented a mop that will last a lifetime, ask your listeners how often they replace their current mops. Try to stick with open-ended questions rather than yes-no questions. You want your listener to start talking and hopefully ask you another question about your product or service. The point of this part of your elevator pitch is to dive deeper into your specialities in a way that is uniquely directed by the listener.

7. Takeaway

Whether you’re in an elevator or somewhere else, these informal pitches must come to an end sooner or later. Be prepared to wrap up your conversation, and always have a takeaway ready. This could be a business card, a product sample, or another tangible thing. In lieu of that, consider getting the listener to commit to another meeting or to take an additional step. Try to plan a wrap-up that’s assertive but not pushy. For example, you may want to say something such as, “This was great. We need to talk further. How’s next Tuesday look for you?”Business is no longer a nine-to-five arrangement, and if you want to be successful, you need to be ready to pitch anytime and anywhere. So you never miss an opportunity, you may want to invest some time preparing an elevator pitch. It could be just what you need to land a new client or secure your next round of funding.

References & Resources

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