How to make your elevator pitch just right

July 31, 2014


Are you dragging your heels at networking events where you hold your elevator pitch in front of a crowd? Do you want to hide at speed networking when someone comes up to you and asks, “So, what do you do?”

This article will prevent this from happening. You will become the star of networking because you don’t pitch and you’re not boring – instead, you tell a story!

How do you tell a story in 30 seconds? Or even one minute or two?

By shortening your story to the basics.

You have to be to the point, persuasive and compelling to create a curiosity to hear more after your elevator pitch, the very first introduction you make, is over. You want to engage the person you are talking to.

Here are six steps to make your elevator a story that has an interesting note your talking partner wants to know more about.

Step 1: Find the right story

It’s the right story that will allow itself to be reduced to an elevator pitch and stay interesting. Generally, think about the result your clients get after working with you. Read some testimonials to recall what clients say about you.

Pick a particular client you worked with and write down:

  • What the customer wanted
  • What did you do / How was the process
  • What the customer liked
  • What the result was, and
  • How the customer felt afterwards

Step 2: Pick the key words within the story

Key words are those that describe well what you did, what the customer felt and how you measure the result and success. For example, a client recently told me she had a breakthrough during the mentoring session, realizing she was marketing a service to the wrong audience! Breakthrough is a powerful key word.

Step 3: Write a short key word version

Using these key words, create a shorter story following the same structure. If you have a fun or serious fact you can use to make your story stronger and bolder, do so now. Only use facts that add to the keyword and choose only one.

Step 4: Make the story more interesting

A chronological story is pretty boring and your talking partner will lose interest if you are not switching it up. You can make your elevator pitch more engaging when you start off with a question. For example, “Did you know that Toronto has more than 200 spas?”

Other ways you can make your story more interesting are:

Start with the end.

Lets use the same example from step 2: “A customer told me last week she had a breakthrough and realized she was targeting the wrong people for her service”.

Share your passion.

Let the listener know why you are in business. Yesterday I shared to a friend’s friend, “I am passionate about making other people’s passion a reality, something they can do every day and make a living out of.”

Be as specific as you can.

How are you helping the customer? Who is the customer? Saying you build websites is boring. Saying you helped a customer overcome her fear of bookkeeping by guiding her through the setup of her books in an easy program makes it interesting. Show your uniqueness.

Step 5: Strip out all the jargon

You may think you use plain language, yet often we don’t catch ourselves using industry-specific words. Ask a friend who works outside the industry for feedback. Look up synonyms in the dictionary.

Step 6: Create a 30-60-120 second pitch

The goal is to share a clear story and brevity is the tool to get there. Since you’ll have different networking events and chances of meeting people anywhere, create different versions of the same story.

Bring it down to 2 minutes, then one minutes and lastly 30 seconds. Or try to boil it down to 30 seconds, adding cool facts to the pitch to engage the listener for a longer time.

Image Credit: By Eric Kilbey via Flickr


Lisette Andreyko

Lisette is the founder of Kaleidoscope and is passionate about start-up leadership, personal growth and women in business (and psst.. about tea!). She enjoys connecting with small businesses through her network. You can find her on LinkedIn.