Elevator pitch: How to convince in just a few minutes

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. An elevator pitch is about getting your conversation partner excited about you, your service, or your idea for a project in just a few short moments of time.

What is an elevator pitch?

“Tell me something about yourself,” – with a carefully crafted elevator pitch, you’ll never run into problems responding to this kind of request. In under two minutes, you should be able to present yourself or your idea compellingly. The elevator pitch can also be seen as a self-marketing tool. We often encounter situations in which we have to introduce ourselves succinctly on almost a daily basis, whether it’s during an interview, a networking event, or meeting a manager over lunch. The idea is to make a positive, lasting impression!

Definition

An elevator pitch (also known as an “elevator speech” or “elevator statement”) is a short presentation that is intended to convince a conversation partner of a project or business idea. The term isn’t essentially about the location of the presentation, but the length: the few seconds or minutes of an average trip in an elevator.

A successful elevator pitch will end with an exchange of contact information and an invitation to a personal meeting. To this end, you need to arouse the interest of your potential employer or investor so that they want to hear more about you or your business idea. Our examples illustrate how you can make a good start to an elevator pitch.

Elevator pitch examples:

  • “I create images for websites and brands. It’s my passion to convey messages in a creative way that makes people want to share them on social networks. By working with me, you can gain customers online who you haven’t reached before. Would you or your company be interested in gaining new customers?”
  • “My name’s Sarah and I run a shipping company. As a family enterprise, we’re convinced that our customers appreciate our personal touch. My father and I take incoming calls. This personal contact – combined with a guaranteed, risk-free transport of goods – can’t be topped.”

This video also shows you how you can give an elevator pitch as well as what you should definitely avoid:

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Elevator Pitch Guide: What to Include in a Short Presentation

The content and structure of an elevator pitch is based on the AIDA model, a fundamental communication principle in conventional marketing. The model refers to four steps that a customer goes through before making a positive purchase decision. The acronym “AIDA” stands for “Awareness”, “Interest”, “Desire”, and “Action. Based on an extended form of the AIDA principle, the following structure can be used for crafting an elevator pitch:

  • Offer: What do you have to offer your conversation partner? What enables you to master the task?
  • Interest: How can you make your potential customer or employer interested in your offer? Where does your conversation partner’s interest particularly lie?
  • Benefit: What makes you different from your competitors? What are the advantages of working with you?
  • Drive: For what reason are you addressing your offer to this person exactly? What is your motivation for a possible collaboration?
  • Call to action: What would you like from your conversation partner? Where exactly would you like help at this point?

These 10 tips will help you give the perfect elevator pitch:

  1. Get the listener’s attention: The first sentence is intended to arouse the listener’s interest. You can do this using an interesting question, a powerful proposition, or an unexpected fact.
  2. Prioritize your content: The short time frame forces you to rank-order what you say. It’s not necessary to cover each topic in detail. Instead, you should summarize your most important point.
  3. What makes you special: Be specific about what sets you apart from your competitors and what the advantages to working with you are.
  4. Make sure you are being clear: Put yourself in your conversation partner's position. They have to be able to pick up the information in a short space of time, so avoid using technical jargon and any complicated facts. Also, try not to speak too quickly, otherwise they will not be able to understand you.
  5. Don’t forget your conversation partner: When preparing your elevator pitch, remember who your target group is. After all, you won’t achieve your goal if the topic is irrelevant to your listener.
  6. Inspire with your enthusiasm: The way you convey your message is even more important than the message itself. Numbers, facts, and figures tend not to get the listener excited about your idea. Instead, you can create positive associations using descriptive language.
  7. Remain authentic: If you are nervous and simply parroting a pitch learned by heart, your conversation partner will notice immediately. Infuse the presentation with your unique personality: if your sense of humor is your greatest quality, show it in your pitch.
  8. End with a call to action: Finish your pitch with a request for your conversation partner. How can your conversation partner help you implement your idea? What could the next step be?
  9. Remember your business card: Make it possible for your conversation partner to contact you in the future. Give them your business card or proactively suggest an appointment for another meeting.
  10. Practice makes perfect: Use any opportunity to practice your pitch. The more prepared you are, the easier you will find it to give your short presentation.

Where can you use your elevator pitch?

The elevator pitch is used wherever potential investors or customers and business founders come together. But you can also meet people in all sorts of places who can help you take the next professional step. There any many situations in which you can score points with your self-presentation. However, the elevator pitch is most frequently used at trade fairs, networking events, in interviews or in chance encounters with relevant contacts.

  • Trade fairs: Exhibitions and congresses are an ideal platform for making contacts, especially for job seekers and self-employed professionals. When you approach a company or are approached yourself, you need to be able to present your services succinctly.
  • Interviews: Win over your potential employer with a short pitch tailored to the company. Which of your professional qualifications are relevant to the respective position?
  • Networking events: You can get talking to important contacts at the events of professional associations or at after-work parties. Here, it is also important to make a lasting impression by presenting yourself effectively.
  • Chance encounters: Imagine you meet the managing director of a company you’d love to work for while dining with friends. This is the perfect opportunity to use your short pitch!

What are the pros and cons of an elevator pitch?

If you manage to pique the interest of your conversation partner with your elevator pitch, this can lead to benefits for you in many respects. For instance, your conversation partner may provide you with suggestions for improvement or offer their support. What other advantages as well as disadvantages can result from an elevator pitch?

Advantages:

  • You arouse interest in your product, service, business idea or who you are.
  • You are required to work out the benefits for your target group, making it easier to prepare a business plan by formulating your business idea in writing and specifying how you wish to implement it.
  • You learn how to convey your message quickly.

Disadvantages:

  • To raise interest, many tend to exaggerate their points. If the conversation partner then researches the person or topic afterwards, they could be disappointed.
  • The elevator pitch is not a suitable medium for conveying complex topics that require longer reflection. The content must be clear and simple, as the short length of the pitch doesn’t permit extensive thought on the part of the listener.
  • The pitch is not suitable for conversations that require dialogue (such as crisis discussions).
Summary

If you have carefully considered your elevator pitch and deliver it with sufficient confidence, it can be an effective way to establish new business relationships.

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