How and when to use an elevator pitch

In many professional scenarios, when introducing yourself, you’ll have a limited period of time to capture the attention of the person you are meeting. From networking events to first-round interviews, having a concise way to explain who you are and what you are offering can set you apart from everyone else.

This is where an elevator pitch—also known as an elevator speech—can become the ideal tool. In a matter of seconds, an elevator pitch allows you to convey important information about yourself. Let’s take a look at what an elevator pitch is, when to use this quick speech, and how to deliver your own attention-grabbing pitch.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short summary of who you are and your professional accomplishments. The goal of an elevator pitch is to gain attention in a short period of time. Generally, an elevator pitch should only be 30-60 seconds in total length when delivered—or the length of an average elevator ride, hence the name “elevator” pitch.

An elevator pitch usually contains the following key elements:

  • A quick introduction
  • A summary of accomplishments
  • A unique personal differentiating factor
  • A call to action or statement of intent

When to use an elevator speech

Elevator speeches are an effective tool for quickly introducing yourself in a professional setting. They give you the chance to summarize who you are without the risk of rambling on and losing the interest of your listener. The following are all viable settings for putting your elevator speech to work.

An elevator pitch for networking

At a networking event, you have the opportunity to meet numerous people. Some of these people might even be important contacts who can help you find a new job position, connect you with employees for your own business, or even discover new investors for your start-up.

Whatever your goal is at a networking event, one of the best ways to help people remember you is to practice an elevator speech beforehand. With so many people shaking hands and meeting new faces, having a concise but catchy introduction will make you stand out. You can use this quick pitch to grab people’s attention and make them want to get to know you further.

An elevator pitch for an interview

An interview is an excellent place to put an elevator pitch to use. Most interviews—particularly round one interviews or initial chats with a recruiter—will involve the invitation to “tell me a little bit about yourself.”

This is the ideal setting to use an elevator pitch. Rather than providing a lengthy summation of every job role you have had, you can use an elevator pitch to succinctly explain why you would be a good fit for the role.

An elevator pitch for sales

Another time when an elevator pitch can be useful is when you are attempting to sell something. This could be selling a product or selling your entrepreneurial idea to an investor. Either way, an elevator pitch will help you quickly explain why your idea or product is worth buying into.

Elevator pitch examples

Before you write your own elevator pitch, it can be helpful to see examples of elevator speeches. The following are all different styles and types of elevator pitches. Use these as your elevator pitch templates; work in your own details and put in a personal touch to make your elevator speech unique.

Example 1 — At a networking event: Hi, my name is Brandon. I recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Hospitality Management. While completing my degree, I interned at the Baypoint Inn where I helped the manager increase bookings year-over-year by 25%. Now, I’m looking for a full-time role as a hotel manager. If you know of anyone hiring, please keep me in mind.

Example 2 — in a job interview when asked “Tell me a little bit about yourself”: I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and have over seven years of experience working in communications roles. Most recently, I helped ABC Business achieve 35% higher employee engagement rates with internal communications. I can’t wait to explore how my experience and skills will aid your business.

Example 3 — when selling a service: I design websites that convert leads into customers. My passion is helping a business turn its website into a profitable income source. Let’s talk about what your company needs.

Example 4 — when raising funding for a business: My partner and I founded ABC Delivery because we saw a need for improved local delivery options. Through our proprietary platform, we have cut delivery costs for restaurants and diners by 25%. At the same time, we have earned $5 in profit for every delivery made. Let’s talk about how you can join us in revolutionizing the delivery industry.

How to write and deliver your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch, when written and delivered well, can be the introduction that lands you your next job or provides you with a valuable connection. Use these tips on writing and delivering an elevator speech to help make your pitch perfect:

  • Keep it short: The key to a quality elevator pitch is delivering it in a short period of time. If your elevator pitch takes more than a minute to share, you need to shorten it. Try to eliminate any fluff and avoid going on tangents.
  • Don’t be afraid to brag: An elevator pitch should show off the best of you or whatever you are selling. This isn’t the time to be shy about accomplishments. While you don’t want to sound arrogant, you do want to sound confident in who you are and what you have to offer.
  • Use numbers: Whenever possible, qualify your achievements with numbers. Numbers are a powerful way to drive a point without requiring a lengthy explanation. It is much more meaningful to state “I increased revenue by 25%” than it is to say “I was an outstanding employee who helped drive company goals.”
  • Try it out: After writing your elevator pitch, make sure you test it out on friends and family. Be open to constructive criticism. Sometimes what sounds good on paper, doesn’t translate as well to speech. Make sure your elevator pitch sounds natural.
  • Practice: Once you have prepared and tweaked your speech, make sure to practice the pitch over and over. You can stand in front of a mirror, record yourself with your phone, or say it to friends. The more your practice an elevator pitch, the more comfortable you will feel delivering it in real-life settings.
  • Adapt: While it is important to have a practiced elevator pitch put together, don’t be afraid to improvise a little on the spot. Depending on the setting and who you are talking to, it might be worth highlighting a different achievement or approaching the speech from a different angle.

Looking for further career advice? We are here to help. Be sure to check out the Ladders Career Resource Center.