Are your elevator pitches failing? Try this

How to avoid elevator pitches

Imagine stepping into an elevator with a potential investor, employer, or client. You have only a few moments to capture their attention, make a lasting impression, and convey the value of your idea or yourself. This is the essence of elevator pitches.

However, many individuals struggle to create elevator pitches that truly resonate. We’re going to explore the reasons why elevator pitches fail and how to avoid the most common mistakes.

What are elevator pitches?

Despite what the name implies, elevator pitches aren’t actually pitches done in elevators (though they can be). They are brief, captivating presentations used to introduce an idea, product, company, or oneself in a limited amount of time. This is typically within the duration of an elevator ride — or about 30 seconds.

They are strategic and concise summaries that aim to grab the listener’s attention and leave a lasting impact. Elevator pitches can be delivered verbally or exist in written form, such as short bios on social media accounts.

Reasons why they fail

Crafting a compelling elevator pitch can be a challenging task, and many individuals struggle to create pitches that truly resonate with their audience. The goal here is to create and deliver a concise, compelling message designed to engage and persuade.

By understanding the pitfalls listed below, you can refine your approach and create elevator pitches that captivate, engage, and leave a lasting impact on your listeners. Let’s delve into these reasons and discover how to turn them into opportunities for success.

The wrong tone 

Find the perfect pitch

Matching your tone with the subject of your pitch is crucial. Avoid sounding monotonous or overly enthusiastic. Adapt your tone to be rational and balanced, aligning with the context and purpose of your pitch. 

For example, if you’re trying to convince a team to adopt a new project management software, sounding like you’re selling ice cream won’t be effective. Instead, present the facts concisely and highlight the benefits of the software. Your tone should fit the subject and resonate with your audience, engaging them with your message.

Lacking confidence

Dress to impress, speak with conviction

Confidence plays a vital role in delivering an effective elevator pitch. Dress professionally to demonstrate your seriousness and reliability. You don’t always need a suit, but putting effort into your appearance goes a long way. 

Practice your pitch thoroughly, ensuring a smooth delivery. Memorise the key points, but also leave room for a natural flow and adaptability. If you feel like you’re forgetting something during your pitch, take a pause and bridge the gap internally while maintaining eye contact with your audience. 

Facial expressions should mirror your words, reflecting confidence and conviction. Practising in front of a mirror can help you perfect your expressions. Remember to use your voice volume to emphasise important parts of your pitch, but be mindful not to yell. Former US President Barack Obama is an excellent example of using volume for emphasis – you can watch his speeches to learn more.

Shaky follow-ups

Prepare for the inevitable questions

After delivering your pitch, you can expect a series of questions from your audience. Failing to provide satisfactory answers can derail your pitch. To avoid this, think ahead and anticipate potential questions related to your pitch. 

You can even ask a family member, friend, or acquaintance to listen to your pitch and then pose questions. This practice will help you gain confidence in answering inquiries and avoid the pitfall of uncertainty. 

By preparing and practising your responses, you can address follow-up questions with clarity and assurance, strengthening your overall pitch.

Overdoing it 

Try to strike a balance

While enthusiasm and passion are essential, it’s crucial to strike a balance in your pitch. Avoid exaggeration and overconfidence, as these may put off your audience. 

Instead, focus on delivering a clear, concise pitch that highlights the unique value you offer. Be authentic and genuine, allowing your personality to shine through. Remember, you want to be likeable and relatable while presenting your idea or yourself effectively.

Lack of adaptability 

Tailor your pitch 

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to elevator pitches. Tailoring your pitch to different audiences and contexts is crucial for success. Research your audience to understand their interests, needs, and pain points. 

Customise your pitch to resonate with specific individuals or groups, highlighting the aspects that are most relevant to them. This adaptability demonstrates your attentiveness and increases the chances of a favourable response. 

When pitching to a potential investor, for example, emphasise the potential return on investment. When pitching to a client, focus on how your product or service can solve their specific problem. 

By tailoring your pitch to the listener’s needs, you make a stronger connection and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Failure to practice and time yourself

Refine, rehearse, and perfect

Practice makes perfect when it comes to elevator pitches. Without sufficient practice, your delivery may lack coherence and clarity. Rehearse your pitch multiple times, focusing on timing, delivery, and overall flow. 

Aim to deliver your pitch within 30 to 60 seconds, adapting the duration as needed for specific settings. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself or even gather a small group of friends to serve as your audience. As you practice, pay attention to your pacing, clarity, and body language. 

By refining and rehearsing your pitch, you’ll feel more confident and prepared to capture your audience’s attention.

Final thoughts

Elevator pitches are powerful tools for capturing attention and persuading others. By addressing the common reasons for elevator pitch failures and implementing the suggested solutions, you can enhance your persuasive communication skills. 

Remember to match your tone with the subject, exude confidence, prepare for follow-up questions, avoid overdoing it, adapt to different audiences, and practice consistently. 

Elevate your pitches, stand out from the crowd, and seize the opportunities you’ve got your eye on. With practice and dedication, you can master the art of persuasive communication and create elevator pitches that leave a lasting impact. So, step into that “elevator” with confidence, and let your pitch soar to new heights!



Kahless is a writer with a special interest in sociology. He spends much of his free time travelling, reading, writing, and stopping his cats from ripping apart everything he owns. It’s advised to bring along a strong cup of coffee (3 espresso shots minimum) when approaching him.

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