Imagine stepping into an elevator and finding yourself face-to-face with a major investor. You have 30 seconds to make a lasting impression and convince them that you have the perfect idea for investing in.

This is where the elevator pitch comes in – in just a few sentences, you can make a lasting impression and open doors to new opportunities. So, are you ready to craft your perfect elevator pitch?

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a concise and persuasive speech that outlines an idea, product or company in a way that can be easily understood by any listener in a short period of time, typically lasting between 30 seconds and two minutes. It is called an elevator pitch because it is designed to be delivered within the time span of an elevator ride or approximately the time you would spend riding an elevator with someone.

The goal of an elevator pitch is to convey the overall concept or topic in an exciting way. Elevator pitch examples include strategies to entice an investor, explain an idea to a company executive or introduce oneself in networking situations. Depending on the focus of an elevator pitch, it can include a brief overview of an individual’s professional and educational accomplishments, relevant skills and career goals, and it is used in various settings such as networking events, career fairs and job interviews.

The objective of an elevator pitch is to capture the listener’s attention and prompt them to take further action, such as asking for more information or scheduling a follow-up meeting.

How to write an elevator pitch

The key is to focus on the most important aspects of the business (such as what you do, why it matters and what sets you apart) in layman’s terms that capture attention and generate interest.

Nailing your elevator pitch requires a combination of preparation, confidence and adaptability.  Here are five tips for delivering an effective elevator pitch:

1. Clarity and conciseness

Keep it succinct and clear. Focus on key points, your value proposition or what you offer. Avoid jargon or overly technical language that might confuse your audience. Have different versions of your pitch between 30 seconds to two minutes.

2. Know your audience

Tailor your pitch to the person or group you’re addressing. Highlight aspects of your pitch that are most relevant or appealing to them. Understanding their needs, interests or similar companies they have invested in helps you frame your pitch effectively.

3. Highlight your unique value

What sets you apart? Emphasize your unique selling points, skills or experiences. Whether it’s a solution to a problem or a unique perspective, make it memorable and distinct.

4. Practice, practice, practice

Rehearse your pitch until it feels natural but not scripted. Practice in front of a mirror, with friends, or record yourself to refine your delivery, tone and timing. The more comfortable you are, the more confidently you’ll deliver it.

5. Engage and listen

Don’t just talk; engage in a conversation. Be prepared for questions or comments. Also, active listening is crucial. Pay attention to the cues your audience gives you and adjust your pitch accordingly. This interaction can lead to a more meaningful connection.

Remember, an elevator pitch isn’t just about conveying information; it’s about creating a memorable and engaging conversation that leaves a positive impression.

What are investors looking for?

The length of an elevator pitch is typically anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. Though once past the first round the pitches can stretch longer. Aaron Stuart, who is COO of WUTIF Capital, has heard plenty of pitches over the years.

Stuart says it is important to think about who you are pitching to.

“I think the first step is to think about what is the type of investor you are looking at and what stage of funding are you at? Is this family and friends, angel investors or venture capital? Every single one of them, you need to kind of communicate and talk to in a different way. For example, an angel investor is going to care way more about the team than the market, and a venture capitalist is going to care more about the market and then they’re going to invest based on the potential for growth.

“There are going to be technical investors, there are going to be non-technical investors, so you don’t want to go too deep on any one aspect of the business until you’re in that Q&A back-and-forth with that investor and you can find out what they care about,” Stuart added.

Preparation is important, while the more people that you can get perspective from, the better, “when you’re putting a pitch together, it is important to try to speak to those who are investors or connected to investors.”

Trust your gut. “The important thing to remember when talking to anyone is that you’ve got this business to where it is today and so trust your instincts,” Stuart said.

Basically, Stuart says, boil your pitch down to “Who are you and what have you built? What problem are you addressing and for whom? What advantage do you have over competitors? What stage are you at? What traction have you achieved? And what is your ask? You could hopefully sum that up in 90 seconds.

“This is the trailer for your business,” he continued. “You are just trying to create enough excitement that I want to ask you questions about your business. If I start asking questions after the pitch, you’ve done your job to gain my attention and now we can dive deeper.”

What to avoid

Crafting and delivering an impactful elevator pitch can often be a challenging task, especially when trying to communicate a complex idea in a short time frame. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes and pitfalls that can hinder the effectiveness of an elevator pitch.

One common mistake is a lack of clarity in the message. When crafting the pitch, it’s crucial to ensure that the main idea is communicated clearly and concisely. Using overly technical language or industry jargon can confuse the listener and dilute the impact of the pitch.

Another pitfall to avoid is overwhelming the audience with too much information. It’s essential to focus on the most compelling and relevant aspects of the product, service or idea without delving into unnecessary details that might overshadow the main message. Simplicity and brevity are key in maintaining the audience’s attention and interest.

Tailoring the pitch to the specific needs and interests of the audience is also vital. A generic pitch that does not address the particular pain points or interests of the listener is likely to fall flat. By customizing the pitch to resonate with the audience, one can establish a stronger connection and increase the chances of engagement.

Neglecting to rehearse the pitch can also be detrimental. Practice is essential to ensure that the pitch flows smoothly and is delivered with confidence and clarity. Rehearsing helps in managing the timing of the pitch and allows for any necessary adjustments to be made before the actual delivery.

Failing to differentiate the product, service or idea from competitors is another common pitfall. Highlighting the unique selling points and demonstrating how the offering stands out in the market can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the pitch.

Additionally, a lack of passion and energy during the delivery can diminish the impact of the pitch. Infusing the presentation with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the topic can help captivate the audience and leave a lasting impression.

Lastly, it’s important to be open to feedback and willing to adapt the pitch accordingly. Ignoring valuable input can prevent the improvement of the pitch’s overall effectiveness.

By being mindful of these common mistakes and pitfalls, individuals can enhance the quality and impact of their elevator pitch, ultimately increasing the likelihood of success in conveying their message to the intended audience.

Published on November 17, 2023.