Perfect Your Elevator Pitch | Elevator Pitch Builder With Examples

Quick! You have 60 seconds or less to sell yourself.

How do you respond?

Will you bore the other person to sleep with an elevator pitch so memorized that you could recite it in your sleep? Or will you be caught rambling, trying to find the right words to wow the person you just met before the ding of the elevator goes off?

Either way, your pitch needs some work.

The elevator pitch — the script you use to promote yourself or your brand in the amount of time it would take to ride an elevator — is hard to nail.

  • It’s rehearsed, but not robotic.
  • It’s professional, but not boring.
  • It’s clear and complete, but not wordy.
  • It tells a story, but not your whole life’s story.
  • It’s selling yourself, but not overselling yourself.

It’s terrifying and it’s tricky.

But it’s also inevitable and invaluable. Which is why you need to craft a winning elevator pitch that will get the conversation underway and convey all the information you need to sell yourself. To get you started, here are a few tips, along with an elevator pitch builder and some examples.

Re-Start Your Elevator Pitch

Revamp your elevator pitch to make it personal, brief and memorable. A strong elevator pitch should:

1. Have a Purpose

When you chat with someone for some non-business small talk, it’s about connecting and caring about the person you’re talking to.

Unlike casual conversation, however, your elevator pitch should be created with intent. You must have a goal in mind. Is it to nurture a lead? Snag an investor? Land a job? Further your network?

Whatever your purpose is, that’s what should guide the creation of your pitch.

2. Say Who You Are and What You Do

Your pitch should explain — cohesively but succinctly — who you are. The trick here is to communicate some excitement about what you’re doing — if you aren’t enthusiastic about it, why would anyone else be?

Of course, the enthusiasm should be sincere. No one sounds authentic when they don’t believe in what they’re doing. Think about what excites you and use that to direct your pitch.

3. Have a Hook

No one wants to hear you talk about yourself and only about yourself, even if it’s for only 60 seconds. That’s why you need to get their attention. Make them want to listen with a hook.

Consider your audience. Now, find a surprising or tantalizing bit of information that’s relevant to them and makes them want to hear more.

What problem can you solve? What sets you apart? What is your audience really looking for, and how can you work that into your pitch?

Make sure your hook leads into your selling point to share how you can solve that problem.

4. Explain Your USP Early

Don’t bury the lead by withholding your unique selling point, or USP, until the end of the conversation. You may have lost their ear by the time you get to what makes you special, so use that upfront.

As soon as you’ve explained your purpose and who you are, explain how your skills, product or service can uniquely solve a pain point. Show off what makes you different from anyone else, and therefore makes you able to provide them with something they can’t get elsewhere.

5. Plan Time to Listen

There’s a lot of advice about creating the perfect elevator pitch out there. Often, that advice will include the directive to ask a question, and that’s a great idea — as long as you have integrated time to listen to the answer.

Asking a question is good advice, because it initiates a conversation and engages your listener. If you ask a leading question, but treat it as a jumping off point without hearing the answer, you may not get very far.

At the very least, factor in time to ask for a follow-up or to get their business card.

6. Create Less From More

Yes, an elevator pitch should be succinct. But if you want a strong pitch, start with more.

Outline the different parts (who you are, what you do, how you do it, why you do it, what makes you unique, what you’ve accomplished, your hook), and use them to craft your narrative. Write down a few ideas for each, and treat them like a puzzle that needs solving.

When you’ve got them laid out, organize them in a logical order with the most important information at the beginning.

Some of those won’t fit, but in the process of jotting down ideas, more ideas will be forthcoming. Save your best ideas — the puzzle pieces can always be rearranged to suit the audience or the situation if you have them in advance.

Elevator Pitch Builder

Now that you have an outline to work with, start timing yourself. Timing is crucial to a strong elevator pitch. Too long, and you’ve lost them. Too short, and you never had them. Of course, some of the length will depend on your field and industry, but err on the side of brevity.

For the most part, 60 seconds should be your max, but you should have both a 30-second and 60-second pitch at your disposal — depending on how far up your elevator is going. When you create each, consider what you have time to include.

For the 60 Second Pitch:

There’s a lot that can be communicated in a minute. Choose what you want to include carefully.

The order of your pitch may be different, but here’s a template for those precious 60 seconds:

  • Introduce yourself — 5 seconds.
  • Explain who you are and what you do — 5 seconds.
  • Get their attention with a statement or question — 5 seconds.
  • Discuss your USP and how it’s unique — 10 seconds.
  • Share your accomplishments — 10 seconds.
  • Communicate your goal — 5 seconds.
  • Offer a follow-up meeting. Give/take business card — 15 seconds.

For this template, there’s a five-second cushion, so if you know you need extra time explaining your USP, put it there. If it takes a bit to explain your work, use the extra time upfront. Remember, every pitch is different. This elevator pitch builder is only meant to be used as a starting point. Make sure you use your time how it’s best suited to sell yourself.

60-Second Elevator Pitch Example

“Hi, I’m Sarah Landrum. Nice to meet you! (Allow time to shake hands.)

I’m a freelance graphic designer and the co-founder of Landrum Designs, a logo design and branding firm based out of York, PA.

Did you know the average person decides within two seconds of looking at a company logo whether they like it or not? It may seem minor, but a poorly designed logo can damage your brand and cost you customers, not to mention time and money of a re-brand.

Having worked for over 7 years as a professional graphic designer specializing in brand identification, I’ve built my reputation on the longevity of my logo designs.

I can say that not only are my clients happy with what I’ve done for them, but my designs have gone on to win national and international logo and branding awards. I’ve won XYZ award and received XYZ recognition. I’ve worked hand in hand with some of the biggest advertising agencies and companies, like XYZ company, and out of over 300 contracts, have had only one logo changed.

I’d like to bring that award-winning history to your company. Would you be willing to meet with me for 20 minutes to go over my portfolio and see how I can help make sure your logo properly reflects your brand?”

For the 30 Second Pitch:

Thirty seconds isn’t a lot of time, but it’s more realistic for the time you will have available to hook a listener. It should be balanced a bit differently. Try this elevator pitch builder as a guide to get you started.

  • Grab their attention with a hook — 5 seconds.
  • Explain who you are and what you do — 5-10 seconds.
  • Choose a USP to fit your audience and discuss — 5-10 seconds.
  • Add in your biggest accomplishment to keep their interest — 5 seconds.
  • Share your goal and offer a follow-up — 5 seconds.

It takes skill and practice to pull off a strong elevator pitch in 30 seconds, but one way to do it is to be personable. If you they can’t remember what you said, leave them with a positive impression of who you are.

30-Second Elevator Pitch Example

“Did you know the average person decides within two seconds of looking at a company logo whether they like it or not?

I’m Sarah Landrum, the co-founder of Landrum Designs, a logo design and branding firm.

Having worked for over seven years as a professional graphic designer specializing in brand identification, I’ve built my reputation on the longevity of my logo designs. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest advertising agencies, like XYZ company, and out of over 300 contracts, I’ve had only one logo changed.

My designs have also won national and international logo and branding awards, including XYZ award.

I’d like to bring that award-winning history to your company. Would you be willing to meet with me for 20 minutes to go over my portfolio and see how I can help make sure your logo properly reflects your brand?”

More Elevator Pitch Examples That Work

The most challenging pitch is the one that works in under 30 seconds, but what you’re pitching matters a lot. Job seekers will need to frontload different aspects of careers than those pitching startups. Students — who often don’t have a lot of experience — should focus less on that aspect of the pitch and more on what makes them unique. Here are some examples of each:

Elevator Pitch for Job Seekers

Hi, I’m Kevin. I’ve been working in digital marketing for the last five years and am looking for a position that utilizes my expertise in social media. In addition to crafting the perfect 140-character tweet, I’m passionate about helping local businesses engage and build relationships with their audiences through social media.

My posts have been shared by BIGNAME1, BIGNAME2 and BIGNAME3, and have gone viral with over 267,500 shares! I’d love to help your business/clients get the same recognition and drive relationships with new customers. Would you be willing to meet for 20 minutes to review my work and discuss how I can enhance your social media strategy?

Elevator Pitch for Students

Hi, I’m Jess. It’s nice to meet you! I’m a senior at Penn State, where I study analytics. My goal is to be a programmer who focuses on business analytics.

I’ve done some work in the field during my internship at IBM, and I’ve narrowed my focus to such a degree that my skillset is unique to XYZ. I’d love to bring that focus to your company and help leverage your data to increase ROI.

Would you be willing to meet for 20 minutes to review my resume and discuss how I can help solve your data problems?

Elevator Pitch for Startups

I’m Mary, the founder of Safe Soaps. Do you know what’s in your soaps? You probably don’t want to! My small team and I create soaps free of toxins and perfumes. We sell to families who want to protect their children from overexposure to chemicals, including sodium laurel sulfate, which is in many commercial bathing products.

Unlike others in the industry, we offer all-natural ingredients that still foam. It’d be nice if we thought as much about what we put on our body as we do about what we eat. If you agree, I’m happy to provide a sample and meet up to tell you about our line.

Elevator Pitch for Innovators

My friend Gemma and I played basketball in college. Every day, when we put our street shoes on, the rest of the team complained because of how bad our feet smelled. But one day, Gemma’s feet didn’t stink as usual. Because of that, I was the only one on the team to make fun of.

I asked Gemma what had changed. She said she made a compound that stopped the smell. I laughed, until I got tired of everyone laughing at me.

Finally, I asked her about it, and together, we began marketing it as a product.

Notice how this pitch is different? That’s because it uses what’s called The Pixar Pitch, instead.

Not too long ago, the story writers at Pixar dropped a template for how they start writing a Pixar story. If you have any children, or ever go to the movies, you may know they’ve had some success. Here’s their outline of a great story:

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Telling a story is an excellent way to make a pitch — narrative structures are memorable and people want to hear them. Use Pixar’s template to create your own story. Keep it in your back pocket in the event you can tell it.

Ready to Put the Elevator Pitch Builder to Use?

Open up a Word doc, grab your pencil and paper, or chalk and chalkboard, and start crafting your elevator pitch.

Remember: every elevator pitch is a work of art that evolves over time. What’s right for someone else may not work for you.

Treating your elevator pitch as something that isn’t set in stone is crucial. It should be a fresh experience every time you say it, because when it begins to sound stale to you, it’ll sound stale to your audience.

Try out your elevator pitch in the comments or on social media, tagging me @SarahLandrum. Want more advice for selling yourself and growing your career? Subscribe to the Punched Clocks career advice newsletter to get it all sent right to you!




*Example 60- and 30-Second Elevator Pitch adapted from The Interview Guys

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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3 Comments on You Need to Try This Elevator Pitch Builder (With Examples!)

  1. Emmanuel
    December 1, 2016 at 2:27 pm (3 months ago)

    I have seen lot of tip on giving an elevator speech but what is missing is exactly what you have shared- actual sample of an elevator speech.

    Thank you for sharing

    Reply
  2. Shawn Dexter
    December 6, 2016 at 2:08 pm (3 months ago)

    Great break down Sarah! Love the samples.

    I think a lot of people miss out on the “hook” idea. A friend once said that “it comes out cliche'”. Well, it might be… if delivered wrong. But with only a minute or two to spare, you need to get the big idea across ASAP.

    Another great tip that works for me is using one-page BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS. It essentially lets the investor quickly capture – in a matter of seconds – that you’ve thought your plan out. I wrote about it here if you’re interested in checking it out: http://www.skipmba.com/business-model-canvas/

    Would love your input!

    Thanks for this! 🙂

    Reply
    • Sarah Landrum
      December 7, 2016 at 3:43 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks, Shawn! So glad you liked it! I couldn’t agree more – It all comes down to how you deliver and relate the hook. You have to make it natural and relevant, not just interesting, to make it flow. When well done it’s the selling point to a great pitch!

      Reply

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