Could you handle the pressure if you only had 30 seconds to pitch an idea?

The top floor: How to craft the perfect elevator pitch


Explaining a great idea can be far from easy. It can ultimately be difficult to get across the details of an innovative thought in the heat of the moment. Too many people will resort to complicated language and use 10 words when five will do.

How would you react if your boss asked for a rundown of a proposal but they are particularly pressed for time? Would the pressure see you fall into a world of miscommunication?

The elevator pitch can help in just such instances.

30 seconds may sound like a huge amount of time to express an idea, but it quickly dissipates.

What is the elevator pitch?

Imagine you’re in an elevator and your ideal business partner, employer or current boss walks in. You briefly introduce yourself and want to explain how and why your ideas are valuable. On average, you’ll have around 30 seconds to get information across.

That may sound like a huge amount of time to express an idea, but it quickly dissipates.

An elevator pitch will convey everything that’s unique about you in the most streamlined, captivating way possible.

The key ingredients

So, what goes into the best elevator pitches? Well, there’s actually quite a few things to remember, considering you’re working on a short timeline.

Keep this criteria in mind if you’re writing a script or noting down some ideas: Concise, clear, memorable, visual and purposeful.

Moreover, research collated by Inc contributing editor Geoffrey James explained that elevator pitches produce the best results when they take those buzzwords and expand on them to include:

  • Benefits: Build your pitch around a unique selling point that’s most appealing to the person you’re addressing.
  • Differentiation: Business leaders are presented with proposals all the time, so try to focus on what makes you different.
  • Questions: Be sure to ask how you can take your idea to the next level at the end of the pitch. It’s important to do so tactfully, but if you’ve impressed up to this point then it shouldn’t be a problem.

Perfecting the craft

How easy is it to take all this information and apply it to your own elevator pitch? The answer lies in practice.

More on crafting an elevator pitch and some of the best techniques for practice can be seen in this video from Howcast:

Like any discipline, the more you do it the better you’ll get. Jot down a few ideas and then read them back to yourself in the mirror. This slightly odd technique will give you an idea of how your pitch will be received.

Much of communicating effectively is centred on understanding how others react to what you’re conveying. The perfect elevator pitch is certainly achievable, but only after you reinforce the core skills through practice.

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