TELL ME MORE!
. RMT 340 .
3 steps to a great elevator pitch
Has this ever happened to you?
You're in an elevator. The CEO of your hottest prospect is also in the elevator and realizes that
he recognizes you. He says, "I was curious, tell me what you do again. I can't remember." What
do you say?
You're at a party. You just happen to run into the VP of the company you want to work for. You
mention that you're looking for a job, and then the VP says, "Glad to meet you. Tell me more
about yourself!" How do you respond?
The elevator pitch is the most powerful and concise description of you, your
company, or your products boiled down to 25 to 35 words. It answers five basic
questions, and it encourages the listener to request, "Tell me more."
What is the purpose of the elevator pitch?
Elevator pitches are developed to relay just enough information to cause your interlocutor to ask, "Tell
me more." If you're lucky, the CEO will remain on the elevator and say, "If you have a few minutes, I
want to hear more." If you're even luckier, your prospective VP will ask you to set up an appointment the
next day to meet with him. All of that from the development, memorization, and tweaking of a few
simple yet incredibly powerful words.
How do you get ready to step on the elevator?
Building an elevator pitch consists of three steps:
Step 1: The five W's
Step 2: Iterating
Step 3: Adjusting to your audience
Step 1: The five W's
The first step is to develop answers to the following questions:
1. What does your company do? (For example, begin your answer with "We provide.")
2. Whom does your company do it for? (For example, begin your answer with "For small and
midsized healthcare providers.")
3. Why do they care? Or, What's in it for them? (For example, include in your answer "so that they
can," "who can no longer afford," or "who are tired of.")
4. Why is your company different? (For example, begin your answer with "As opposed to" or
5. What is your company? (For example, begin your answer with "My company is an insurance.")
In some cases, it may be important to develop answers to questions about other aspects of you, your
company, or your products that can help lead to that all-important "tell me more" request:
What environment is your company operating in? (For example, begin your answer with "My
company's industry is challenged to implement Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.")
What single thing does your company do better than anyone else? (For example, begin your
answer with "My company is recognized as the leading provider of.")
Examples of answers
Trey Research "For restaurants that need to measure and improve customer satisfaction, Trey
Research provides the answers you need in half the time through its proprietary combination of online
and offline survey techniques." (31 words)
Proseware, Inc. "For companies requiring compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, Proseware is a custom
financial software developer providing software and consulting solutions in half the time so that you can
sleep at night again." (30 words)
John Smith "I graduated in record time from Coho University with an undergraduate degree in
microbiology. I just started researching the influence of algae on prolonging the life span and increasing
the population of bottlenose dolphins." (34 words)
Step 2: Iterating
It looks simple, but the hard part is getting your elevator pitch to contain 35 words or less. Keep editing it;
rehearsing it; practicing it by saying it to your spouse, your friend, and people inside and outside your
Make sure that they get your elevator pitch. Smile when they ask, "What do you mean by … ?" or "Does
that mean you can help me to … ?"
Keep improving your elevator pitch until it becomes routine for you to say and crystal clear for your
audience to understand. Like a fine wine, it can only improve with age.
Examples of answers
Trey Research "If you're a restaurateur and can't keep your regulars coming back, you're lost. Using
proprietary online and offline survey techniques, Trey Research will find out how you can stop the losses
and start generating profit." (35 words)
Proseware, Inc. "With the spotlight on public companies and the severe penalties for noncompliance,
Proseware's customized compliance solutions, delivered in less than half the time, let you get a good
night's sleep." (30 words)
John Smith "Bottlenose dolphins depend heavily on algae for survival. Having just graduated from
Coho University in microbiology, I'll be one of three researchers helping to prolong the dolphins' life span
and population through this important research." (35 words)
Step 3: Adjusting to your audience
Every audience is different. You wouldn't tell your son's fourth-grade class: "I design J2EE software
applications to deliver SOA for F1000 companies." So make sure that your terminology and your
acronyms fit your audience members. Keep your elevator pitch at their level.
Examples of answers
Trey Research "Trey Research helps restaurants improve customer satisfaction so that people keep
coming back. Nobody else does it the way Trey Research does it — with combined telephone and
Internet contacts." (29 words)
Proseware, Inc. "In the aftermath of some of the recent accounting scandals, Proseware helps
companies make sure that they are following the law. No one else can help them comply as fast as
Proseware can." (33 words)
John Smith "Bottlenose dolphins need a certain algae to survive. With a Coho degree, I'm going to be
one of three researchers figuring out how this algae can help dolphins live longer and increase their
populations." (34 words)
Go for the gold
Elevator pitches that represent a company or a product must be used by all employees in the company,
including the sales team and the executive team. Each of these groups can help hone the elevator pitch.
They may even be able to provide alternate versions that they have tailored for their typical audiences.
Soliciting their input and feedback on these critical 35 words can help take your elevator pitch "up to the
Personal elevator pitches are important in job interviews and for meeting new business acquaintances or
new friends. They can even be useful for better informing your friends about what you do.
Don't forget that the goal of a successful elevator pitch is to prompt your recipient to ask you the all-
important "tell me more."
About the author Guy R. Powell is president of DemandROMI, a company that helps marketing organizations measure the return on their
marketing investments. DemandROMI helps companies prove and improve marketing performance so that they can deliver quantifiable revenue and
profit as a result of marketing investments. Guy is author of Return on Marketing Investment: Demand More from Your Marketing and Sales
An elevator pitch is a brief overview of an idea for a product, service, or project.
The pitch is so called because it can be delivered in the time span of an elevator
ride (say, thirty seconds).
When I was first asked to write an elevator pitch, the first thing that came to my mind was,
Why is an elevator pitch so important? I’m bootstrapping my business – I don’t need any funding so why should I
even care about an elevator pitch?
Well, I later came to find out that the process of formulating an elevator pitch brings to light many basic things that an
entrepreneur must consider about their business. Even if you’re not looking for funding, an elevator pitch can help
you figure out what’s at the core of your business.
There are numerous ways to formulate an elevator pitch; one thorough and useful method is K. Stone’s How to Craft
a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business. Yet as I mentioned before, many methods exist so search for
one that makes the most sense to you. I found the following tips to be useful when I wrote my 30 second elevator
1. First, avoid the cookie cutter – ―insert your name here‖ templates that you’ll find littered all over the net. You
want your pitch to stand out and be unique, so give it life and personality by allowing your pitch to paint a
picture or tell a story.
2. If possible, use a tag line yet avoid sounding cheesy – your elevator pitch isn’t a sales pitch.
3. Stick to hard facts and numbers! Avoid assumption or BS’ing; you’ve got to instill integrity in your message.
4. Make the pitch easy to understand; avoid acronyms or any jargon that your intended audience won’t
5. Focus on the opportunity/problem you’ve encountered and why your solution is the most unique in providing
value and benefit to the customer. *This part will comprise the bulk of your elevator pitch, so be sure and
spend some time figuring out why your product stands head and shoulders above the competition.
6. If possible, mention the size of your market and who would be willing to pay for it.
7. If you’re pitching to an investor, mention their return on investment and how much funding you’re seeking.
8. Last but not least, make sure it’s only 30 seconds long. Doing so will force you to trim the fat from the pitch
and only focus on what’s really at the core of your message.
Once you’ve created your elevator pitch, memorize it completely and try it out on your friends, family, and colleagues
(try cornering them into a cubicle). When reciting your elevator pitch convey passion, confidence, and instill some of
your personality into the pitch. It really makes a difference when your message has some feeling to it.
Now onto an example, here’s one from Intel for employees to use,
“Intel, the world’s largest silicon innovator, creates products and technologies
that change the way people live, work and play. Whether it’s a mobile lifestyle or a
new way to enjoy entertainment at home, Intel is helping people all over the world
accomplish things they never before dreamed possible.”
Preparing Your Elevator Speech
So, what's an elevator speech, and how do you get one?
What Is It?
An elevator speech is a short (15-30 second, 150 word) sound bite that succinctly and memorably introduces you. It
spotlights your uniqueness. It focuses on the benefits you provide. And it is delivered effortlessly.
Elevator speeches are intended to prepare you for very brief, chance encounters in an elevator. But elevator
speeches are not just for elevators! You should use it whenever you want to introduce yourself to a new contact. That
could be in the supermarket, waiting in line at an ATM or when you get your morning latte.
So, who better than you to describe with passion, precision and persuasiveness what you do? A great elevator
speech makes a lasting first impression, showcases your professionalism and allows you to position yourself.
And if you want to network successfully, you need an elevator speech!
How to Prepare an Elevator Speech, or What's My Line?
Now for a short course in preparing your elevator speech, or unique selling proposition.
First, and most important, think in terms of the benefits your clients or customers derive from your services.
Trust me, no one is going to be riveted if you say:
"Hi, my name is Stanley Manly, and I'm a public relations executive with twenty years of experience."
"Hi, I'm Sally Hopeful, and I'm an executive recruiter.
Two big yawns.
What's In It for Me?
Do you recall that old radio station, WII-FM: What's In It For Me?!
If you remember that people are always more interested in how you can help them, you're on the right track. Keep
that top of mind when composing your speech.
Here's how to improve the two examples mentioned above:
"Hi, my name is Stanley Manly, and I help inventors tell the world about their inventions."
"Hi, I'm Sally Hopeful. I partner with companies that need to find talented people to help their business growth and
become more profitable."
Now, you've got my attention!
Let's use my elevator speech before and after as an example:
Here's my before version (and I wondered why people looked at me with a frozen smile!):
"Hi, I'm Dale Kurow, and I'm a career and executive coach. I hold a Master's Degree in Career Counseling and have
been trained by a master level coach. (Who cares!) I've been an HR director for a multinational cosmetic company,
run a PR agency and taught college-level business courses. (So what!) I believe that coaching can be the catalyst to
change your life. (Are you asleep yet?)
See how that was all about me, me, me?
Now for the revised version:
"Hi, I'm Dale Kurow, and I help people become more successful at their work. For
example, I've helped a client change jobs with a 40% salary increase, I've helped a
client develop the skills to deal with a difficult boss, and I've helped a manager
devise new ways to keep her staff motivated."
Here's a few more examples:
I know an Avon representative who says:
"I help women look beautiful."
Or a business coach that says:
"I help you get more clients than you know what to do with."
And here's my favorite, one that is used by an IRS agent:
"I'm a government fund-raiser."
So, here's what you need to do to craft your elevator speech.
First, write down the "deliverables" -- the services or features that you provide. Then, think in terms of the benefits
that your clients or employer could derive from these services. You could use several successful client outcomes, as I
Once you've got that written, create an opening sentence that will grab the listener's attention, as our Avon
representative did above. The best openers leave the listener wanting more information. And you do not have to
include your title, especially if you think it has a negative connotation (an IRS agent, for example).
Finally, your elevator speech must roll off your tongue with ease. Practice your speech in front of the mirror and with
friends. Record it on your answering machine, and listen to it. Do you sound confident? Sincere? Is it engaging?
Tweak accordingly. Then, take it on the road!
. Sample Elevator Speeches .
Below are sample Elevator Speeches from many walks of life. You are welcome to print these to use as guides in
developing your own. Do not copy these verbatim. You're far better served by creating your own and incorporating
your own uniqueness and style of expression.
For A Lawyer for Non-Profits
“I'm saving the people who are saving the world! (she pauses and smiles.)
I'm Alice Andrson, a lawyer for non-profits. My company, Anderson NonProfit Strategies, based in
the San Francisco Bay Area, specializes in helping non-profits keep their fund-raising legal. For
more information e-mail me: alice@anpslaw.”
For A Web Designer
“I am a Techno Shock Therapist (pause for laughs).
My name is Andy Ebon, founder of EBS Virtual Communications. I help my clients with their
internet marketing and promotion needs through web development, web site promotion and
helping them incorporate their eMarketing with their overall marketing plan. Tell me about your
For The Self-Employed
“Hi, I teach people how manners make money & politeness promotes profits in the market place. I
teach etiquette to youth and adults. I'm Carolyn Millet, and it's my pleasure to meet you!”
For A Project Manager
“I translate the Tower of techno-Babble. I'm Paul Coker.
Some companies call my job project management or technical team leading. I help teams reach
their goal better/faster/cheaper by welding radically different perspectives into a single team
effort, avoiding wasted or dead-end efforts. Do you know of any companies that might need that
kind of leader for a team of tech specialists?”
“Hi. I'm Liz DeClifford, LD. I'm not a Latter-Day but I am Learning Disabled. I train others to live
productive, fulfilled lives. Here's my card; let me know how I can help you.”
“I turn conflict into agreement. I'm Robbie Gordon of the Conflict Resolution Institute. My
workshops & coaching reduce your conflict. We teach people how to understand, discuss and
resolve conflict so they can live happier lives. Let us replace the conflict in your life.”
For A User Interface Designer
“Hi. I'm Ed Swiss, and I connect people to computers. I create simple, effective user interfaces
that make it easier for people to do their jobs. Would you like me to simplify your workplace?”
For A Computer Consultant
“When it comes to data having an overbyte is good! I'm Dan Singleton, principal of Singleton
Consulting Inc. Our appetite for bits and bytes is exceeded only by our capacity to digest your
data! Our favorite flavor is COBOL! Call us, we're hungry for your business.”
“I'm the Fred Flinstone of the construction industry. I install computer systems for the gravel
industry. I'm Stephen Beard, project manager extraordinaire.”
For A Management Consultant
“I keep your company out of Dilbert's comic strip! I'm Alyson Abrams, a Silicon Valley
management consultant specializing in change. If your company is experiencing rapid growth or
change I can offer experience and wisdom to keep your employees happy and your profits in the
For An Insurance Company
“Settlement Alternatives provides turnkey solutions to all your insurance needs! Our website,
workbooks and presentations each provide information, guidance, options and alternatives to
help you resolve your insurance woes. Success is a click away...SettlementAlternatives.com!”
For An Insurance Agent
“I'm a money man with a plan: I make sure the money keeps flowing when your income stops.
(pause) Somewhere along the line, for one reason or another, you will no longer be working. My
plans insure that individuals and their families are prepared for that day; when it comes.(another
pause) Let's review your plan to make sure the money flows unabated. I'm Mark Eckhout with
MML Investors Services.”
“My firm takes over where Walt Disney left off. I'm Chal Daniels, and I will show you how to make
your dreams come true. What is something you have always dreamt of doing? (Pauses and listens
intently.) I can help you make your wish come true. Here is my card, call me, I'd love to work with
you. I give you my assurance our insurance can help you dream big dreams.”
For A Civil Engineer:
“Hi I'm Arnold Karman...I harness the forces of mother nature and put them to work for you. I'm a
civil engineer specializing in building bridges, roads and other thoroughfares. We help you get
where you're going safely and expediently!”
For A Software Engineer:
“I crunch bits and bytes for breakfast. I'm a software engineer who designs applications that don't
go snap, crackle or pop. I'm Tony “the Tiger” Pistoli.”
For Another Software Engineer:
“I'm the Claude Monet of Software. I'm Henri Pierre. My masterpieces are written with zeros and
ones! I write clean code and elegant programs which come in on time and under budget. My
artistry is yours, call me.”
For A Hardware engineer:
“Some think beyond the box. My brilliance is within the box. Im Sarah Barnes, a hardware
engineer. I design computer architecture for maximum efficiency, creating robust systems.”
For A Process Engineer:
“They call me Mr. Chips. I manage process engineers in the commission of ultra-fast microchips.
My rooms are super clean, my employees detail oriented and my teams are well coordinated. I'm
For A Toastmaster:
“Hi I'm Cassandra Cockrill…an evangelist for better thinking, better speaking, and better listening.
I help thousands of people each year to be sure that they communicate more confidently and
competently than ever before. I do it through Toastmasters. What about you, are you interested in
For A Financial Consultant:
“Hi, I'm Charles Riviera. I help my customers by putting them in touch with money! I'm a financial
resource consultant based in Miami.”
“I manage dead presidents! I am a money manager who helps people reduce their taxes (and my
hands are pushing downward as I say this), and increase their savings and investment returns
(now my hands are palms up, raising up to my shoulders). How can I help you?”
For A Customer Service Representative:
“I have a calling. I am a customer satisfaction representative who calls customers to insure
they're satisfied. “Yes” is my favorite word. What's yours?”
For A Credit Agent:
“I'm Bill Lovvett. I give credit where credit is due. I'm a commercial credit agent. Wouldn't you like
some credit too?” (smiles!)
For Self-Storage Facility Managers:
“We can help you think inside the box. We're self-storage experts providing you with space to
store your commercial or personal property. I'm Craig Harrison, manager of YOUR COMPANY
STORE in Denver. Could you benefit from off-site property storage?”
“I tell people where to put it! (smile and pause) I'm Bob Arnold, manager of STORE YOU here in
Tampa. If you've got 'stuff' we've got your storage space. As a full service storage site we offer a
variety of ways to store you! Won't you come see how our store is your store?”
“We're your attic without cobwebs and your basement without termites. We're MORE STORE, your
self-storage specialists. With four metropolitan locations to choose from, we offer a variety of self-
storage units to solve your storage problems. Our storage options make your life easier and your
own space less cluttered. Let us help you store and save.”
“We're the NASA of inner space. We provide storage space here on earth for all your worldly
possessions. We're STORAGE SPACE SPECIALISTS. Houston, we've got a property!”
“Our space gives you breathing space. We're ROOM-FOR-GROWTH STORAGE INCORPORATED,
a self-storage business catering to residential clients. Using our space liberates your place.
(pause for rhyme to sink in.) We're here to help.”