How to Give an Elevator Pitch (With Examples)
You never know when you might need to give an elevator pitch. Perhaps you’re asked what you do at a networking event, you need an introduction when pitching your business to potential investors, or you bump into someone influential in the elevator — after all, that is where the name comes from.
Either way, you need a 30-to-60-second speech to tell the other person who you are, what you do, and what you want. But as time is short, elevator pitches are hard to get right, especially if you haven’t prepared.
Below, we’ll dive into how to give an elevator pitch and give you some examples for every scenario.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch, also called an elevator speech, is a short introduction — meant to be the length of an elevator ride — that you can give someone that tells them exactly who you are and what you do.
Ideally, it will get a conversation going and may be the start of a great relationship or a useful contact.
What Should an Elevator Pitch Say?
You don’t have much time to deliver an elevator pitch, but there are a few key things you need to make sure you get across. These include:
- Who you are
- What you do — either your job role or your business.
- What you want — are you looking for a job, pitching your business to investors, wanting to make connections with people in your industry?
- A call to action — what do you want the person you’re talking to do? This could be to take your card, look at your portfolio, or set up a meeting to talk more in depth.
How you phrase these things and how much detail you give for each one will all depend on who you’re talking to.
For example, if you’re casually chatting to someone at a networking event, you’d briefly describe what your business does.
If, on the other hand, you’re in a job interview, you’d talk about your current role and where you want your career to go next.
Remember, your elevator pitch should be short. Your aim is to start a conversation, so you don’t need to get into every detail in there straight away. If the person you’re talking to is interested, they’ll ask follow-up questions.
Or if they have any points in common with you — like they also work in publishing — or can be helpful — like they know someone looking for the role you’re hiring for — they’ll most likely let you know, and the conversation can flow naturally from there.
How to Write an Elevator Pitch
Before you deliver your elevator pitch in person, it’s good to have one written out and memorized ready to go. This way, you can be sure you’ll hit all the important points.
Here’s how to write the perfect one.
1. Keep it Short
Remember, it’s called an elevator pitch for a reason. You don’t have time to dive into your entire career history or all of your business goals. You’ve only got 30 to 60 seconds to get everything you want to say across.
You can begin by brainstorming how you’d like to introduce yourself. Write down the key problems your business solves, your main responsibilities at work, your biggest achievements, or what you’d like your next career move to look like.
Then pick two or three of the most important points from your list.
2. Include What You Want or What You’re Looking For
As well as briefly describing who you are and what you do, be sure to include what you’re looking for. This will all depend on the type of event you’re at or who you’re talking to.
- If you’re at a careers fair, talk about the kind of role you’re looking for or the type of company you want to work for.
- If you’re at a networking event, talk about the kind of people you want to meet or the connections you want to make.
- If you’re pitching your business, talk about whether you’re looking for investors or new leads.
You can write out a few different elevator pitches to fit different situations, highlighting different skills or experience you have and what you’re looking for next.
But remember, you don’t always need to be looking for something in particular. In some situations, you can just share what you do and the conversation will flow from there — you might just be open to meeting new people, for example.
3. Script it, But Not Too Much
You want to spend some time preparing your elevator speech ahead of time. You’ve only got 30 seconds to a minute of time, so you don’t want to waste a second on something that isn’t important or lose time stumbling over your words.
Consider writing out a script beforehand and practicing your elevator pitch a few times at home.
However, make sure you don’t sound too robotic or stilted. It’s easy to spot an over-rehearsed elevator pitch, so you want to make sure you still sound natural and the conversation can easily flow onto further topics once your speech is done.
Practice with a friend or record yourself and watch over the video and make sure you’re not speaking too robotically. This will help you deliver your pitch more confidently when the time comes.
4. Add in Personality
Even though you’ll most likely be using your elevator pitch in a professional setting, it doesn’t have to be boring.
In fact, adding humor and letting your personality shine through will only make your elevator speech more memorable and people more likely to want to speak with you.
Stick to the golden rule of keeping things short, but don’t be afraid to add a joke or bit of light-hearted humor in there.
For example: “I’m a freelance journalist. I started off writing about fashion, even though I’m hopelessly unfashionable, and then got into automotive writing, despite not knowing how to drive. Finally, I found my happy place in travel journalism — something I actually know a thing or two about.”
How to Give an Elevator Pitch
Now you’ve got your perfect elevator pitch written up, it’s time to learn how to deliver it.
1. Speak Confidently
Being confident is, of course, easier said than done. But when delivering your elevator speech, you want to be clear, confident, and compelling.
Now is not the time to be shy, especially if you’re pitching your business or speaking with a recruiter.
Talk about what your business does and how it helps people, or what your key skills are and the kind of job you’re looking for.
Remember, if a person has asked you what you do, they want to know!
2. Speak Slowly
If you’re nervous or trying to pack in as much information as possible, it’s tempting to speak quickly. But that will only alienate whoever you’re talking to and it won’t give off the confident and professional image you’re aiming for.
Make sure to breathe, pause between sentences, and don’t rush over your words. Speak how you would in a normal conversation.
If in doubt, take time to practice with a friend or record yourself beforehand, so you can check how fast you speak.
3. Flow Off the Other Person
While you should be able to get through your entire elevator pitch without interruption, especially if it’s only 30 seconds or so long, that won’t always be the case.
Don’t let this throw you off, though. Remember, the aim of your elevator pitch is to start a conversation, so welcome any interruptions and play off how the other person responds.
If they stop you to ask a question, welcome it and let the conversation flow from there.
If they mention they’ve got something in common, ask them a follow-up question to learn more.
They might even ask a question you weren’t expecting, but go with it. You never know what the conversation could lead to.
4. Have Business Cards Ready
Depending on the type of industry you work in and the kind of event you’re at, business cards can come in very handy.
They’re the ideal way to give someone your contact details without being too forward or awkwardly handing over your phone to get their number.
Business cards are especially helpful when you’re at a networking event, careers fair, or anywhere else where you could be meeting many interesting people in a short space of time.
Elevator Pitch Examples
Now you know how to write and how to give an elevator pitch, it’s time for some examples to get you inspired.
At a Job Interview
One of the most common job interview questions is “tell me about yourself.”
This is a great time to use your elevator pitch, but you’ll probably want to go into much more detail than a traditional elevator pitch would allow. But you can use your elevator pitch as a starting point.
“I’ve been working in ad sales at TechCompany for five years now. I started out as an intern and quickly got offered a full-time position. I quickly fell in love with sales and was determined to become a top performer in my team. Once I started hitting that milestone regularly, I decided I wanted to teach others on the team, so I set up informal training sessions and designed my own ad sales course for new hires in the company. I’m now looking to move into a management role…”
Introducing Your Business
“Hi, I’m James. I’m one of the co-founders of YourHome, an app that connects homeowners with reputable contractors in their area. We’ve only been up and running for six months and have already gained five thousand users in Boston. We’re now looking for investors to help us grow our reach even further and expand into new cities. I know you’re looking for startups to invest in. Can I give you my card?”
Introducing Your Company
“Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a sales rep at YourTours. We help tour companies turn their in-person tours into virtual and audio tours travelers can take at any time. While tourists love the personal touch, they’re also busy and sometimes want to take a tour on their own time. But we know business owners like you have enough to worry about without creating a whole new digital offering. That’s why we do all the hard work for you. If you’re interested, I’d love to set up a call for us to discuss in more detail?”
At a Careers Fair
“I recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in games design and I’m now looking for my first role in the industry, ideally as a design assistant. I’ve been working on some games in my spare time. I’d love to share my portfolio with you if you’re interested?”
At a Networking Event
“I’m a freelance photographer, mainly doing weddings and events in and around London. But I’m looking to break into travel photography and work with magazines. I’m here hoping to meet other like-minded photographers who are also looking to grow their businesses. How long have you been working in photography?”
The key thing to remember when giving an elevator pitch is that it needs to be short. So, make every second count and get across the key things you do and what you’re looking for. Once you’ve got an elevator pitch prepared, you’ll be ready to make the most of any meeting — even those spontaneous ones in elevators.