Four simple ingredients for a good elevator pitch

elevator pitch

The three day workshop I ran for the Higher Colleges of Technology recently was around Employability and Industry Engagement. Last week I had to review all of the independent assignments I had requested from the group, and was delighted to see that they had really taken on board all the different areas we had talked about, from the entrepreneurial mindset, and networking on and offline, to communicating clearly, and using social media.

The assignment that had the greatest response rate was where I had tasked them to work on an elevator pitch and send me a recording of them delivering it on their phones. Obviously an elevator pitch is something that needs to be practiced many times in order to become completely smooth, however I was really impressed to see some of the results, which for a lot of the course attendees, were their first attempts at ever delivering an elevator pitch.

After I had reviewed them all, I thought it might be useful to share four key factors that really make an elevator pitch work, no matter who you are and what you do:

1. Clearly tell people your name and what you do

Don’t use technical terminology, describe it as if you were talking to your grandmother, so that everyone can understand not only your official role, but what you actually do for the company on a daily basis, what problems do you solve and what teams do you work with. Use simple language, and don’t rush as you speak, people need to understand the words coming out of your mouth, and easily be able to repeat them to others.

2. Keep it short, but not too short!

An elevator pitch should be no more than 30 seconds, and you should use that time wisely to make an impact on people. Don’t make it too short, otherwise it’s little more than an introduction – this is your time to shine! If you can explain what you do quite succinctly, then try to add an example of something you are working on at the moment, or that you have recently achieved, to give the audience an impactful backup to what you have told them.

3. Relax and smile

If you concentrate too hard, you will naturally frown and this will automatically have an adverse effect on your audience, so make sure you know what you are going to say in advance so that you are not concentrating or thinking too hard, and remember to look around and get eye contact with your audience – and keep smiling! People need to believe you are happy doing what you do!

4. Tell people what you need

If you’ve managed to get people engaged and make an impression, then make sure you do something with that attention and interest while you have it! Have a call to action, make it clear to the audience how they might be able to help you, the kinds of people you would like to meet, the kinds of clients your organisation has, whatever it is that you are doing the elevator pitch for. This way they won’t refer the wrong people and you won’t waste their (or your own) time either.

It’s amazing the difference it makes if you have something polished that you have worked on and practiced, that can be easily rolled out at a moment’s notice. It gives you more confidence, and ensures that every time you speak about your work, you are making an impact, even on your off days! If you’d like some help or advice with your elevator pitch, or any element of promotion of yourself or your company, please do feel free to reach out to me on

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