The Elevator Pitch: A How-To Guide

A man in a white business shirt and a blue tie speaks to a group as they clap for him

Executing an effective elevator pitch is key to driving new business, seed investment, and ultimately planting a lifeline for your business idea. Crafting one is not as easy as it may seem.

People often feel passionate about their own ideas, so they have a tendency to over-explain them. However, in the business world, time is money. So, how can you quickly outline your business ideas in English, while still making them sound enticing?

This is where the concept of the “elevator pitch” will help you. But how can you craft an effective pitch for business? What kind of positive business jargon should you use? We will answer both of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at what it means to make an “elevator pitch”:

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

In essence, an elevator pitch is a description of an idea, product, or company that can be delivered and understood in a short amount of time.

An elevator pitch requires you to explain your idea in a way that is very informative and (ideally) intriguing for the listener. An elevator pitch for business is usually made with the intent of making people want to buy a product, invest in a company, or adopt a new system or process.

The term “elevator pitch” comes from the situation in which one person pitches an idea to someone else while riding an elevator. Naturally, elevators move very quickly, so the speaker only has a short amount of time to express their ideas.

It is important to note that elevator pitches don’t have to take place in an elevator. They can happen in a meeting, at a coffee shop, or just about any place where two people can meet for a quick chat.

How long should I make my elevator pitch?

There is no set standard for how long an elevator pitch should be. However, the only difference between an elevator pitch and a regular idea pitch is the amount of time it takes.

In general, you should aim to take no more than 1 minute with an elevator pitch. If you can’t describe your business idea sufficiently in less than 1 minute, you may need to reevaluate your strategy.

Try Using Positive Business English Terms

Time is not the only concern during an elevator pitch. The entire point of any business pitch is to paint your idea in a positive light. Others should want to invest or somehow participate in your idea.

This doesn’t mean that you need to decorate your speech with fancy terms or vocabulary. In fact, you probably won’t have time for that anyway. But you still want your idea to sound good.

There are numerous business terms out there you could use. So, let’s take a look at a few positive business English terms to use during your next elevator pitch:

  • Actionable – able to be achieved.
    • We can offer actionable change in an antiquated industry.
  • Bring to the table – to provide something of value.
    • At the end of the day, consumers just want to know what you can bring to the table.
  • Buck the trend – when an investor makes a decision in opposition to market trends.
    • You won’t need to buck the trend with us.
  • Cast a wider net – to involve more people.
    • Our process casts a wider net than the competition.
  • Do more with less – get better results with fewer resources.
    • I can help your company do more with less.
  • Game-changer – a revolutionary new idea.
    • I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but this is a real game-changer.
  • Magic bullet – a quick and comprehensive solution.
    • We can’t promise a magic bullet for every problem, but we can promise results.
  • Move the needle – to change a situation.
    • We can help move the needle in the right direction for your business.
  • Organic growth – increased traffic or profits through traditional methods.
    • Websites need consistent organic growth to flourish in this market.
  • Raise the bar – raise the prevailing standard.
    • I aim to raise the bar with every subsequent project.
  • Scalability – the ability to change in size or scope.
    • We’re a small team now, but our design gives us almost limitless scalability.
  • Go viral – to circulate quickly on the Internet.
    • Our goal is to make content go viral every time.

Elevator Pitch Examples

Unfortunately, there is no elevator pitch formula. The exact nature of your speech will depend on your intent and goals. A pitch for students will naturally differ from a pitch for entrepreneurs.

Nonetheless, here are a few resources and examples to get your creative juices flowing:

Elevator Pitch Structure

As we mentioned above, elevator pitches don’t follow a specific formula. Still, there are a few important points that every elevator pitch should cover.

Make sure that you follow these tips:

  • Introduce yourself – you should never go into an elevator pitch without telling your listeners who you are. Introducing yourself should always be the first step (unless you already know the person).
    • Explain what you do – this does not mean that you should summarize your job history. But you should explain what you do in relation to the idea that you’re trying to pitch. Are you a law student who wants to open a law firm? Are you a nurse who wants to develop an app to help diagnose patients? Or are you simply an entrepreneur with an interesting new idea? No matter your circumstances, you need to sell yourself along with your idea.
      • Explain what you WANT to do – this is where you get into the meat of your idea. Find a way to summarize your idea in as few words as possible (without cutting out any vital details). This may require you to speak quickly, but you should focus more on trimming your summary down, as listeners may not be able to follow if you rush through your entire pitch.
        • Why should they care? – this is the part where you try to sell your idea. You’ve introduced yourself, explained what you do, and explained your idea, so now it is time to explain what this idea can do for your listeners. Can your idea make them a lot of money? Is it relevant to a specific person, company, or group? In any case, you should make the selling points as clear as possible.
          • What do you want? – Finally, you will need to be very direct about what you want from your listener. Job seekers want to get hired, entrepreneurs likely want partners or investors, and so on. You should never finish an elevator pitch without being very clear about what you want from your listeners.

Conclusion

Knowing how to make an elevator pitch in English is all about expressing your idea succinctly using positive and engaging vocabulary.

That being said, an elevator pitch can only be as good as the underlying concept. So, before you prepare to make your next elevator pitch in English, make sure that your idea or selling point is ready for the public!

For more English speaking and job interview tips, check out Magoosh Speaking.

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