How to Create an Elevator Pitch: Tips to Make It Great

Updated on February 20, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

I write about employment issues, ways to earn money and how to get best value when spending it.

Looking cool is not enough. Can he sell himself in 60 seconds?
Looking cool is not enough. Can he sell himself in 60 seconds? | Source

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch or speech is one that is delivered and completed in the time it takes for an elevator to ride from the bottom of a building to the top. This is a very small amount of time; roughly 30-60 seconds. Within the space of a minute you must convince your customer to buy.

Your pitch must be meaty enough to hold the audience’s attention, but not be so pushy that they close their ears to what you’re saying. You need to include the who, what, why, where and when of your offering.

An elevator speech can be used to clinch a business deal, to make new contacts at a networking event, to sell yourself at a job interview, or even be a chat-up spiel at your local bar. Whatever the occasion, you need to convince your audience to connect with you right now.

How To Create Your 30 Second Elevator Pitch

5 Tips for Making a Great Elevator Pitch

The best elevator speeches are a conversation, they are the start of a new relationship. Let people know what you believe in and see if it resonates with them. A great elevator pitch should create a lasting impression (in a positive way.)

The technique of successful pitching is similar to that used to write a short story. Your pitch must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Just like a salesman, you need to ask for the business and then close the sale.

How to Make a Memorable Pitch

  1. Be brief. You will make the most impact if you can give the key information in under a minute.
  2. Start with an interesting fact. You need to gain the listener’s attention.
  3. Give some key facts about yourself or your product, and link them to a customer benefit.
  4. End the pitch by saying something positive, and give them a reason to make future contact.
  5. Practice makes perfect. Prepare ahead of the meeting and tailor your pitch to a specific event.

Regular practice is the key to perfecting any skill, and pitching is no different.
Regular practice is the key to perfecting any skill, and pitching is no different. | Source

A Useful Networking Skill

Whether you’re a freelancer or employee, it’s useful to have a brief sales pitch at the ready. This is a skill worth learning and practicing. It can help you take advantage of unexpected networking situations.

At a conference you meet with other delegates and are able to throw in a quick promotion for your product. If done correctly, an elevator speech can interest new clients in you and your product. You may even find yourself being headhunted for a better job as a result.

Making a good elevator speech can be life changing. Imagine you are at an international symposium. Across the room you see a familiar face; he’s the Senior Vice President of a company you’ve always wanted to work for. Luckily, you’re prepared for just such an opportunity. You’ve practiced making an elevator speech at home. You quickly pitch to him by summarizing your skills and experience in a couple of short sentences. You know why you want to work for this guy and you grab this one-off chance to sell yourself to him.

1. Tell a story with your pitch.

2. Smile.

3. Start with the key points.

4. State what you can do for the other person.

5. What are you planning/ hoping to do?

6. Explain why.

7. Give your 3 greatest accomplishments or characteristics that make you a person worth doing business with.

8. End the pitch with an invitation.

— Chris Westfall, US National Elevator Pitch Champion

Use Eye Contact and Body Language

Understanding the effect of eye contact and body language in a pitch situation can make all the difference to your chance of success. I found it useful to read Without Saying a Word: Master the Science of Body Language and Maximize Your Success. You need to be aware of the messages your unconscious gestures are sending to your target. “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”

When meeting someone new, often the first thing you notice about them is their eyes. A glance held too long becomes a stare. In the US it’s normal to make eye contact as soon as you meet and greet a new person. That initial eye contact is normally held for several seconds (but no longer). If you glance away too quickly, it can indicate shyness or a lack of self-confidence; but hold the gaze for too long and it becomes an uncomfortable stare.

In many Middle Eastern cultures, prolonged eye contact is unacceptable. There are different expectations on acceptable length of eye contact between people of the same sex, and those of opposite sexes. Too much eye contact may be interpreted as an invitation to flirt.

Why Is Eye Contact Important?

Leaning Forward Shows Interest and Enthusiasm

The term body language refers to the gestures made unconsciously during a conversation. Without realizing it, clues are given to the other person about whether an individual is feeling tense or relaxed, confident or nervous. If you learn to notice and understand your own body language, you may be able to modify or control your gestures.

One of the more common subconscious signals is crossing your arms over your chest or stomach. This is a defensive gesture and can be a sign that you feel uncomfortable with the topic of conversation.

When seated, foot tapping or ankle stretching can indicate boredom or impatiece. Next time you’re in a doctor’s waiting room, take a look at the other patients. Those who’ve been waiting a long time will be jiggling their feet impatiently.

If you’re feeling reasonably confident and relaxed this will show in your body language, gestures, and eye contact.

9 Tips for Successful Body Language

  1. Greet people by mirroring the strength of their handshake.
  2. Don’t cross your arms over your body. It conveys a nervous, negative attitude.
  3. Keep your hands away from your face.
  4. Maintain eye contact; steady but not staring.
  5. Stay focused; concentrate, look and listen to your target.
  6. If seated, relax into your chair, but don’t slouch.
  7. Sit still and don’t fidget.
  8. Don’t groom yourself during the interview.
  9. Hand gestures imply confidence; but don’t go wild.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    6 weeks ago from UK

    I had not come across this term before. You explain it well and make good suggestions. Candidates on The Apprentice would do well to take note.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Since I am retired I have not need to make an elevator pitch, but i found you article to be very interesting. I know eye contact and body language is very important for any type of conversation. I think this is a very good article about the dos and don'ts for making any type of pitch.

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