The Elevator Pitch and When to Use it

Communication is always based on an interest of one kind or another. Whenever we talk to someone, we know that there must be an interest: to make friends, transact business, engage in negotiations, or other types of relationships. Always, there is the element of “interest”, whether personal or professional. It’s as though we’re constantly responding to the urge to prove our value, in front of people. So how does the “elevator pitch” or “elevator speech” relate to all this? When, and why exactly, do we use it?

We all have a clear image in our heads, when we accept an invitation for a job interview, and we freak out thinking about what to say or what not to say. In most cases, we may think that we don’t know the answers; but really, though, all a recruiter wants to know is your set of skills and what you have to offer the company. There is one, evergreen question that never goes out of fashion: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Period. It’s the moment where you decide to blank out completely, not knowing what to put first among your qualities as a human being; or, it is the moment where you shine by presenting your best self, because you prepared for this question. You memorized an elevator pitch speech.

Job interview
Afterall, all they want to know is what do you know and what can you offer to the company.


What Is an Elevator Pitch, Though?

An elevator pitch is a summary you create to introduce yourself, what you do and who you are. The weird name of this speech is based on the time it takes to ride an elevator from the bottom to the top of a building. Your elevator pitch has to be brief, sharp, and well expressed. Some of the most successful salesmen say that 30 seconds are all the time you really have to impress a customer.

The entrance you make, the first sentences you decide to use, will make you or break you. But the elevator pitch speech does not relate to your professional life only. Actually, sometimes people tend to think that only products or specific ideas need to have a pitch. But there’s nothing wrong with having a personal elevator pitch that you are ready to use whenever you see an opportunity to meet new people. The right speech will provide your new contacts with exciting reasons to connect with you.


What to Include in Your Elevator Pitch?

It sounds pretty impossible right? To include all of your life experience, lessons you have learned, your qualifications, the skills that characterize you, strengths and weaknesses – everything in 30-60 seconds. Well, people have proven the opposite.  It is possible, and it is quite effective if you want to impress an entrepreneur or potential employer.

So how do you wrap all that information up, and what do you prioritize.

In a Forbes article by Ashley Stahl, she lists three tips that will help you to develop a perfect 60-second elevator pitch.

  1. Sharing your story
  2. Doing your homework
  3. Having a goal in mind

Yes, this is a general perspective on how to create an elevator pitch that best represents you. “Selling yourself” might not sound very good to your egotistical self, so it’s best to look at an elevator pitch as a clear, firm introduction. You know that sometimes we reminisce about times when we could have said something smarter, instead of what we actually said during a situation.

Creating an elevator pitch fixes that problem for you. You remove the grey clouds of self-doubt and insecurity and clear the way for your best qualities to stand out during a brief introduction. What Stahl means by sharing your story is that you are supposed to relate your early life experiences or share something very human and personal to connect with the purpose at hand. If that purpose is job seeking, for instance, do share how you were inspired to choose this profession and how passionate you have been about it ever since university. We know in real life that matching your profession with the skills you have may always immediately fall into place; however, I’m sure you can always find an informative story to let others know about your personality traits. This is how human bonds are created. Sharing something slightly personal can do no harm!


Research and Preparation

The Forbes article also says that you should do your homework, and have a goal in mind. Doing your homework relates particularly to situations where you know specifically what job are you applying for or whom you are meeting. Of course, you’re not going to attend a job interview not knowing a thing about your potential work–place. You have to dig through their highlights and stories, their mission and values, and try to adapt your elevator pitch to how your experience can contribute to an increase of those values. Basically, by researching, you have the opportunity to show your recruiter how you could add more value to that organisation. And of course, having a goal in mind is what helps you get through everything. You go through the stress and nervousness, and yet you manage to pull it out because what you want to achieve is very clear in your head.

However, except for these three general golden rules to create a top-notch elevator pitch, here are some more of a technical nature:

  1. Keep it brief
  2. Say who you are
  3. Tell what you do & what makes you different
  4. Mention your goals
  5. Relate them to the company’s values
  6. Stick to attention-grabbing discourse and persuasiveness
  7. Be persuasive
  8. Know your audience
  9. Be flexible and positive
  10. Finish leaving a strong impression
Points to prepare
Points to prepare

We know that it may sound hard to wrap all these up in one well-structured speech, but practice makes perfect. You’ll see the benefits once the interview or random encounter is over, and you hear again from the people you wanted to give you positive feedback. After all, as author and business executive Seth Godin has said:

The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with will want to hear more even after the elevator ride is over”.

Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney

Read more from the author.

Support us!

All your donations will be used to pay the magazine’s journalists and to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the site.


paypal smart payment button for simple membership

Share this post

Interested in co-operating with us?

We are open to co-operation from writers and businesses alike. You can reach us on our email at and we will get back to you as quick as we can.

Where to next?

The Influence of Music on Memory and Cognition

The parts of the brain responsible for memory retrieval, linguistic analysis, emotional processing, and reward anticipation are all revitalized through musical engagement and production. Music aids in recalling previously taught…