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Quick guide to the perfect elevator pitch

Elevator Pitch

The shorter, the better. This may be the unspoken rule of elevator pitches. It may have to do with humans’ shrinking attention span (currently believed to be at 12 seconds) or making the best first impression in record speed.

Here’s a concise guide to the most frequently asked questions about elevator pitches for your career and future endeavors. Read on.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

It’s a strategy or way to present an idea, product, company, or oneself to employers, mentors, investors, clients, associates, and so on. Also known as an elevator speech or statement, the message is kept short and sweet, ideally within the duration of an elevator ride. This pitch can even exist in written form, like a short bio on social media accounts.

The goal is to provide a summary or description that is engaging and concise to grab the listener’s attention.

Who Uses an Elevator Pitch?

“Elevator pitching” is a life skill useful in various settings. Are you one of these people?

Job seekers: Against the backdrop of a challenging labor market, a perfectly crafted elevator speech helps you stand out and land a job. This is especially true in career expos and job fairs that attract many people vying for the same job opportunities. Your opening speech or answer to “Tell me about yourself” in job interviews should offer a quick and memorable recap of your expertise and skills.

Students: They prepare elevator pitches to get into the internship program of their choice, the process of being similar to finding employment. The pitch can serve as a descriptive “about yourself” that goes with the resume and application letter.

Entrepreneurs: Business owners and managers take advantage of elevator pitches for various purposes, such as networking, introducing a product, and seeking funding. Social gatherings are part of business dealings, and these become venues for such short-yet-effective speeches.

Elevator Pitch vs Pitch Deck

Start-ups employ elevator pitches called pitch decks. These are brief, visual presentations that tell the company’s story in 10 to 15 slides. The usual goal is to raise capital from investors.

Pitch decks are not as time-restricted as elevator speeches; the number of slides (and their content and design) is the primary consideration.

How to Create a Great Elevator Pitch?

The effectiveness of an elevator pitch lies in its content and delivery. How do you put together a personalized, persuasive, and influential speech that is 60 seconds long?

Generally speaking, any elevator pitch must answer these questions:

  • Who you are or what you do
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • As well as what does the listener get from your pitch?
  • And what is your unique selling proposition, or what sets you apart from others?

What Are Great Examples of Elevator Pitches?

Customize your pitch to fit your audience or purpose. Expect it to be different, or at least have a template that you can tweak and update.

You can refer to these noteworthy examples when crafting your elevator speeches.

A U.S.-based employment website has a four-point-pitch: a) saying who you are, b) summarizing what you do, c) explaining what you want, and d) ending with a call to action.

Montfort College of Business has videos of its annual elevator-pitch winners, together with a basic-structure template and examples.

Airbnb’s 2009 pitch deck has been touted as the template because it helped the company secure thousands of dollars in funding. The legendary deck, which remains the talk of the town, can be accessed online.

What to Avoid When Doing an Elevator Pitch?

  • Going for a generic opening sentence
  • Using cliches, jargons, and slang terms
  • Cramming too many ideas
  • Sounding overly rehearsed or forced

Read your pitch out loud to determine your pacing. Don’t forget to time yourself.

How Long Should Your Elevator Pitch Be?

Though it may depend on the setting, a pitch should ideally be around 30 to 60 seconds. In some cases, speeches can last up to two minutes.

Final Thoughts: Do Elevator Pitches Work?

They can be effective in breaking the ice or making one a stand-out. Elevator pitches act as a hook to get someone to listen to you, the more onerous details you can address in follow-up Q&As, interviews, presentations, and documents. Practice and experience make you better at pitching ideas using this technique.

Do you have additional questions about the elevator pitch? Let us know in the comment section.

Don’t forget to share this post!



Aubrey i​s a writer and a regular contributor. She writes on topics on job searching and career development in hopes to provide better tips on job hunting and career development.
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